Let me start by telling you that my sister Julie (one of my most avid readers) is a vegetarian. She pointed out, quite rightly, that I have not been providing any vegetarian recipes, or vegetarian substitutes for my recipes. Well, she's right. I'll let you in on a little secret – it's because we eat meat at every meal. Julie challenged me to an all vegetarian night, and by golly – we did it. Now, if we weren't allowed to eat meat, you can bet your tooshey that we were going to be making up for it by piling on the cheese. So, Julie – this one's for you!
Weeknight Dinner: Peeta's Cheesy Goodness, I've Been Starving My Whole Life Until You Came Along Buns…and Julie's Produce Aisle Skillet.
Start with the buns. They'll cook while you're doing the dinner part… Now, there will be no spoiler alerts in this blog, so for those who are reading the Hunger Games or shamelessly watching all the movies and pretending like you read the book (you know who you are, losers), then you can read easy. I'm just going to talk about how I managed to make Peeta's Cheesy Goodness, I've Been Starving My Whole Life Until You Came Along Buns. Now, if I were Katniss, and I had been eating nothing but goat's milk and fawn for like… 18 years, and this sexy-ish dude handed me one of these buns… Yeah, he'd be my boyfriend in like a second. Unfortunately Katniss doesn't always do what we think she should do, so I guess Peeta's going to have to stuff more cheese in these babies or do SOMETHING to get through to her.. I digress.
I found this recipe on Pinterest, which originated from a blog called Yammie's Noshery. Honestly, I didn't really change much, but just enough to make homemade bread Cari-proof, and I cut it in half (which I regretted later because I could have eaten all 20).
What You'll Need (for the buns):
- 1/2 cup of warm water from the kitchen sink
- 1 packet of dry active yeast
- 1 tbs of sugar
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 cup melted butter
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 oz. part-skim/low fat mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup low fat colby jack cheese
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- A little bit of melted butter, mixed with 1/4 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tbs fresh parsley chopped
Mix together water and yeast in a bowl, and let it set for 5 minutes. You will start smelling the yeast when it has been sitting for a while, that's a good sign (I think). Add in the sugar, garlic powder, melted butter and oil. Add the flour slowly – 1/4 cup at a time – and the salt. I mixed mine in my stand mixer with the dough hook. If you do not have a stand mixer, I'm so sorry. You're going to have to knead that dough by hand for 10 minutes… Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, grease a small bowl and wet a cloth. Then, form the dough into a ball, and place into the greased bowl. Cover with a wet cloth for 30 minutes to let it rise!
(While my dough was rising, I cooked the Produce Aisle Skillet so they were all ready at once!).
Preheat the oven to 375. Get out a large muffin pan (the kind that only has six muffins). Spray each muffin bump with non-stick cooking spray (I feel creeped out by this stuff, but it will really be necessary, so bare with me). Separate the dough into little balls – I made five, but you can make your rolls as big or small as you want. Smoosh it into a flat circle, and place a 3/4" size of mozzarella cheese into the middle. Pinch it closed, and roll it back into a ball. Do this until all your dough is gone – I placed each roll into a muffin bump in my pan, but you could really cook them on a cookie sheet and that would be fine. I was concerned the cheese would go all over, but it did not. Mostly because I'm an excellent pincher.
Sprinkle each roll with colby jack cheese and parmesan. Bake in the oven for 14-15 minutes. The bread will not be super brown, but when you push on it, you'll know if it's done if the bread is soft in the middle and crispy on the top. Brush each roll with the butter mixture (butter, parsley and garlic powder). And fight everyone off because you're going to want to eat every single one of these and not share them with Mr. Grumpy at all. He will get angry and steal one of your rolls. I imagine this is exactly how Katniss and Peeta felt, and am not surprised she was so moody around him.
Julie's Produce Aisle Skillet
Julie, I accepted your challenge and had a meat-free dinner. I thought you'd be proud. But, because Mr. Grumpy and I do work out (as much as we can), protein is very, very important to our diets. So, this Produce Aisle Skillet was the perfect answer. Quinoa, veggies, feta cheese (got the cheese in there, see?) and a lemon honey vinaigrette? Delicious, and vegetarian friendly!
I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite blogs – Iowa Girl Eats.
What You'll Need:
- 1 3/4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (or broth is fine) – we use the organic kind. Full disclosure – I actually used chicken stock. Sorry Julie. I forgot I was being a vegetarian, but I thought you'd appreciate my honesty. That was tricky!
- 1 cup quinoa: rinse it so that it is sticky when you're done cooking it
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 small zucchini, cut into small, quarter pieces
- 1/2 small yellow squash, cut into small, quarter pieces
- 1 can of Mexicorn, drained
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 1 roma tomato, diced
- 1/2 cup feta
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 lemon's worth of lemon zest (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
- 1/2 lemon's worth of lemon juice (about 2 tbsp)
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
First, prepare all your veggies. It took me longer to chop all the vegetables than it did to actually make the dish. Next, bring the stock to a boil in a saucepan. Add the quinoa, and cover the saucepan with a lid. Turn down the heat to low, and cook 25 minutes. DO NOT PEAK AT THE QUINOA. I get real upset when Mr. Grumpy cheats and peaks. The point is that the liquid is absorbed, and that won't happen if you keep looking at it.
Meanwhile, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, 1 garlic clove, salt and pepper in a dressing jar (I use little tiny mason jars) and shake it.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Use one of your larger pans because the skillet is the most massive skillet you've ever seen (but makes THE BEST leftovers). Add garlic and onion and saute until translucent. Then, add zucchini, squash, and corn. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and saute it for 6 minutes. Add cooked quinoa and half the honey lemon vinaigrette, and then stir. Cook for a few more minutes — I did around 2 more minutes to make sure my veggies were all cooked nicely.
Add remaining vinaigrette, tomatoes, feta cheese and basil. Stir, and let it cool before serving (this is a good time to brush the butter on your Peeta Buns!!).