In The Kitchen With
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Most teenagers love animals, and, for many of them, this leads to an interest in being vegetarians. When our oldest son announced at age eighteen that he would no longer eat meat, chicken, or fish, I didnít pay much attention. A year later, when he converted our youngest son in one of those late night brother-to-brother chats, I finally had to take a good look at my meal planning.
Our sons wanted to avoid meat. Since I care about fat and calories, a diet of macaroni and cheese casseroles wasnít an option. Luckily, my husband was amenable, and I gradually converted myself into a low fat vegetarian cook. Over the years as the boys have left home, I do cook more with poultry and fish, but we still eat many vegetarian meals, and the challenge of low fat vegetarian cooking continues to intrigue me. Anybody can make something taste good by throwing in a stick of butter, but cooks have to be more creative if they want to get the fat out.
I enjoy naming recipes after characters in my books. Would Jane Darlington enjoy my vegetarian pasta recipes? How would Dan Calebow react to my meatless split pea soup? (Cal Bonner, the definitive junk food junky in Nobodyís Baby But Mine, continues to be a challenge, but Iím working on him.)
Here's Chaz's Lemon Pound Cake. It's just like hera little tart, a little sweet. Chaz adapted the recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home, and it's become a Phillips family favorite. I love the fact that it uses yogurt instead of a big quantity of butter or shortening. It's also perfect for entertaining because it's best when made a few days ahead so the lemony richness has a chance to soak through. We've tried it several ways, but agree that it's best plain with perhaps a square of chocolate on the side.
- 1 1/2 C all purpose flour
- 2 t baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 C plain, whole milk yogurt
- 1 C sugar
- 3 extra large eggs
- 2 t grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
- 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 C vegetable oil
- 1/3 C sugar
- 1/3 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt into medium sized bowl.
In larger bowl, whisk together yogurt, 1 C sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.
Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet. With rubber spatula, fold vegetable oil into batter making sure it's all incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the glaze by cooking the 1/3 C lemon juice and 1/3 C sugar in small pan until sugar dissolves and mixture is clear. Set aside.
When cake is done, let cool in pan for 10 minutes, than take out and place on baking rack set over a pan to catch glaze drips. While cake is still warm, pour glaze over cake and let soak in. Cool and refrigerate. (I like it best after 48 hours in refrig.)
Surely Blue would fix this for summer Sunday afternoon dinners at the farm. This is also my daughter-in-law Gloriaís favorite. I use the sweet mint from my garden and make this all summer.
- About 8 Cups of seeded watermelon cubed or balled
- 1/3 Cup loosely packed chopped fresh mint
- Juice of 1/2 to one lime (to taste)
- Optional: 1/2 C crumbled feta added just before serving.
Toss melon, mint, and lime in pretty glass bowl. I like to refrigerate for a few hours to mix flavors. Add feta just before serving.
Heath Champion doesnít cook, but he loves this dip, and so do his kids. Heís an expert at conning Annabelle into making this for the family (and any of his health-conscious clients who show up unexpectedly.)
- About 6 ounces of low fat cream cheese (not fat freeroom temperature)
- 1/3 C packed brown sugar
- 1/2 C canned pumpkin
- About 1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon (to taste)
- Dash of salt
Chill at least 30 minutes. (Can be made a day ahead of time.) Serve with apple wedges or ginger snaps.
So much for healthy eating! Last month I received an e-mail from a reader asking for the recipe to the "Fruit Cocktail Cake" referred to in FIRST LADY. This is a dessert I made in the late 70s or early 80s and havenít made since. Please e-mail me if you try it and let me know how it is.
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Mix the following ingredients in an ungreased 8X8X2 inch cake pan.
- 1 C flour
- 1 C sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 can (8 1/4 oz.) fruit cocktail (undrained)
- Optional: 1/2 C chopped nuts
- Bake 30 minutes. Frost immediately.
FROSTING: (My old notes say not to double for double recipe.)
- 1/4 C butter, softened
- 1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese softened
- 1 C confectioners sugar sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
This is not only one of Colinís favorite dishes, but my husband Billís as well. Because itís quick and easy, Colin frequently fixes this on nights when itís his turn to cook. (Husband Bill, unfortunately, is cooking challenged.) Sugar Beth even loves this entree, despite the fact that itís incredibly healthy. Colin, being a guy, doesnít measure.... Serves 2 people with huge appetites or 3 people who eat normally.
- About 3/4 of a bag of whole wheat rotini** (Both Colin and I prefer Bella Terra Organic.)
- 2 (14 oz) cans STEWED tomatoes with Italian seasoning, if available. (Donít used diced tomatoes.)
- Lots of fresh garlic sliced. (Original recipe calls for 2 cloves. I use about 6)
- Red pepper flakes to taste ( 1/2 teas.? Colin and Sugar Beth love it spicy.)
- 1/2 C sliced pitted olives and/or capers to taste
- 2 T olive oil
1. Boil water for pasta
2. In large skillet or medium saucepan, saute red pepper flakes and sliced fresh garlic in olive oil until golden. Donít burn it. (HINT: To get garlic smell out of your fingers, rub your fingers against sides of stainless steel sink. No, Iím not kidding, and donít ask me why.)
3. Add stewed tomatoes. Bring to boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes while pasta is cooking. Break up tomatoes when spoon.
4. When sauce has slightly thickened, itís ready to serve. Spoon pasta into bowls. Toss olives or capers over hot pasta, then ladle on sauce. (Bill loves the olives, but I prefer capers because of their zing and low fat content.)
5. If desired, top with a little parmesan or feta
**Iím only cooking with rotini these days. I got tired of trying to keep spaghetti from dangling down my chin or splashing on my clothes. Even when I go out to eat, Iíll ask the kitchen to substitute rotini. Itís so much easier to handle.
I had a big argument with Sugar Beth Carey, the heroine of AINíT SHE SWEET?, about posting this recipe. Iím a nutrition nut and this recipe is nothing but JUNK!!!! Except, as Sugar Beth rightly pointed out, itís delicious junk. Thanks to Sugar Beth, this has become the Phillips Family Special Occasions Only Dessert. (And doesnít that woman know all kinds of ways to make trouble?!)
- 1 brownie mix prepared in 13x9x2 pan and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 package (4 serving size) chocolate fudge INSTANT pudding and pie filling mix PREPARED.
(Or prepackaged chocolate pudding, if youíre short on time)
- 1 small jar caramel ice cream topping (Sugar Beth uses Smuckers)
- 1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip
- (Nuts optional)
Mix container of Cool Whip with about ĺ of jar of caramel topping.
In a trifle dish or pretty glass bowl, layer half the brownies in the bottom. Add half the prepared pudding, then some of the caramel/whipped cream topping. Repeat. Youíll end up with a little left over caramel/whipped cream topping. Wash down the sink. Do not eat like me! You can put nuts between layers. Instead, Sugar Beth toasts almonds or pecans and puts them in separate dish for people to use as optional topping. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours but not more than 24. This serves about 12 18 people depending on how piggy everybody is.
The hero of Breathing Room, Ren Gage, is Hollywoodís favorite villain. Heís also half Italian, and when he was a child, his nonna tried to keep him out of trouble by teaching him to cook. Here is a Classic Marinara recipe guaranteed to make your home smell like an Italian cucina. It has the added advantage of being low fat, vegetarian, easy to prepare, and multi purpose. A Phillips Family staple, I must have made this 1001 times. You may vary the vegetables you chose according to preference. Food processor speeds preparation.
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 pound of mushrooms, rough sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes (chopped or processed in food processor)
- 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 T dried basil, dried oregano, sugar
- 1 t dried thyme, rosemary
- l/2 t crushed red pepper
- (options: Capers, spinach, eggplant in any combination. Meat can also be added according to preference.)
1. Saute vegetables, garlic, and spices in a little olive oil until soft.
2. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce.
3. Heat to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to low and cook about 1 hour.
4. Serve over rotini or your favorite pasta. Garnish with parmesan or feta.
WIND LAKE BED & BREAKFAST BAKED OATMEAL
(Courtesy of Molly Somerville Tucker)
Michigan mornings can be chilly, even in the summer, and we thank Molly for sharing this recipe to warm up her guests before they take a plunge in the lake. For busy mornings, this can be made day before and refrigerated. Microwave individual portions when ready to serve.
- 6 C old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 C skimmed milk
- 2 eggs or 1 C non-fat egg substitute
- ĺ C brown sugar
- Ĺ C unsweetened applesauce
- ľ C canola oil
- 4 t baking powder
- 1 t salt
- 1 t vanilla
- Ground cinnamon
- (Optional: raisins, prunes, chopped apples, pecans)
I think Phoebe Calebow, Molly Somerville's big sister, would love serving this to Dan and the kids. Warning! I didn't measure anything while I was making this, so these directions are a little whifty! I served 4 people with this quantity.
- 2 Cans (4 Cups) Chicken or Vegetarian Broth (The boys weren't home, so I used College Inn's Low Fat)
- 4 or 5 medium-to-small Sweet Potatoes
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- Thyme to taste
- About ľ C Peanut Butter
MAT JORIK'S BACHELOR DAYS RICE IN A SKILLET
What kind of cook do you think FIRST LADY's Mat Jorik might have been before Nealy's staff relieved him of the burden? Since Mat's a no-nonsense guy, I think this might have appealed to him. I love this recipe because it's prepared and baked in the same pan-a big old iron skillet. I think Lucy would prefer Version One while Baby Butt would love gumming on Version Two.
- 2 cans (4 C) Chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 -3 T olive oil
- 2 red pepper diced (optional)
- 1 - 2 C frozen green beans (precook a little in microwave first)
- 1 C frozen peas
- 2 C rice (I use pearl rice I buy in bags in Mexican food section)
- 1 T basil
- Ĺ T oregano
- garlic, salt, pepper to taste
- Optional toppings: a bit of grated cheese and or diced fresh tomatoes
(Same principle, completely different taste)
- 3 C (1 Ĺ cans) chicken or vegetable broth
- 2-3 T olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 diced small to medium sweet potato
- 1 C rice (I like bagged pearl rice from Mexican food section)
- 1 C green beans or peas (If using frozen green beans, pre cook in micro a few minutes)
- 1 T basil
- Ĺ T oregano
- about 2 T balsamic vinegar
- about 1 T Worcestershire sauce
- salt, pepper to taste
As some of you may remember, Shelby Traveler, in LADY BE GOOD, has had a little trouble taking off the weight that accumulated during her pregnancy. Since Shelby loves good food, but also wants to slim down, I know she'll enjoy this recipe. (Note that this tastes best if you let first series of ingredients sit out at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving)
COMBINE IN SERVING BOWL:
- About 5-6 C chopped ripe tomatoes
- About 1 C finely chopped sweet onion (I use less)
- l/2 C chopped fresh basil (I use more) or 2 T dry basil
- l/3 C balsamic vinegar (Or use half Balsamic and half Rice Vinegar. Don't use cider vinegar. It's too strong.)
- l/4 C oil (I used half olive oil and half canola-both good heart healthy oils)
- 1 - 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- About 3 minced garlic cloves (to taste)
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
Cook about ĺ pound of a thinner pasta such as angel hair, thin spaghetti, or a smaller rotini in salted water. Drain but don't rinse. Gently toss in serving bowl with above ingredients. Dish onto individual plates and top with grated Parmesan or mozzarella.
GRACIE AND JILL'S LAZY DAY VEGETARIAN LASAGNA
This recipe should be attractive to busy cooks since you don't have to precook the lasagna noodles. The last time we checked, Gracie Snow Denton, from Heaven, Texas, was doing triple duty as a wife, mother, and the mayor of Telarosa, Texas. My Vegetarian Lazy Day Lasagna is right up her alley. I also made it for that wonderful historical romance author Jill Barnett when she came to visit, and she enjoyed it so much she's been making it for friends. So, let's have Gracie and Jill share this recipe. (I've also made lots of adjustments to reduce fat.)
This recipe is simple to assemble, but cooking plus resting time takes at least an hour and a half, so get started early.
- Vegetables of choice. (See below)
- 1 48 oz jar prepared spaghetti sauce (Prego Extra Chunky)
- 1 lb. low fat cottage cheese
- 8 oz. low fat tofu
- Uncooked lasagna noodles (How many you use depends on size of pan. You don't need an entire package)
- About 2 C shredded mozzarella
- About l/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 C water
2. Add spaghetti sauce to vegetables
3. With potato masher, mash tofu and cottage cheese together in medium bowl. Set aside.
4. Spoon about 1 Ĺ C vegetable mixture in bottom of lasagna pan.
5. Cover with layer of noodles.
6. Top with Ĺ of ricotta/tofu mixture
7. Add 1/3 of vegetable sauce.
8. Layer of noodles
9. Rest of ricotta/tofu mixture
10. l/2 of mozzarella
11. l/3 of vegetable sauce
12. Layer of noodles
13. Rest of vegetable sauce.
Pour 1 C of water around sides of pan. Cover tightly with foil. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Uncover. Top with rest of Mozzarella and parmesan. Bake 20 minutes more uncovered until bubbly. Let stand 15 - 20 minutes. Serve.
Here's a recipe that suits Bobby Tom Denton, from Heaven, Texas, just fine. I adapted it for the former Chicago Stars wide-receiver from Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites. I don't measure things too well, so I hope you can deal with approximations!
- 2 large or three medium-sized sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
- 3+ cups chopped onion
- 3 or more large cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 T+ minced fresh green chili (I used serranos. For less kick, try jalapenos) 4 t ground cumin
- 4 t ground coriander
- 3 cans (15 ounce each) black beans (pinto beans also an option)
- 2/3 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves (I bought some of the mild flat Italian parsley by mistake and used it anyway. Great for people who aren't crazy about cilantro.)
- 2-3 T fresh lemon juice
- 8 large flour tortillas (I buy the fat free ones)
- Your favorite salsa.
2. While sweet potatoes are cooking, sautť onions, garlic, chili in a skillet generously sprayed with Pam. Cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Add cumin and coriander. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn't stick.
3. In food processor, combine beans, cilantro, lemon juice. Process. Add sweet potatoes and process again. (Alternative: Mash with potato masher for rougher texture.)
4. Stir in onion mixture, salt to taste, and heat to desired temperature in microwave.
5. Warm tortillas in microwave. Fill each tortilla with about ĺ cup of mixture and serve with salsa.
This recipe provides a different slant on the more common black bean burritos. I like to serve with a salad or a simple plate of raw vegetables. The richness of the sweet potatoes eliminates the need for cheese, but you can certainly top with some Monterey jack or cheddar if you'd like.