Semi-Veggie Jessie

Vegetarian recipes for beginner home cooks

Grandma Sara’s Lentil Soup October 19, 2010

Filed under: Recipes,Tips — semiveggie @ 4:17 pm
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Recipe: Grandma Sara’s Veggie Soup

Picture this: You’re standing in front of your fridge at dinnertime, staring at the contents. “Hmm, that celery is going limp”, you think. “I should use it up. Why did I even buy celery to begin with? What the hell do you actually make out of celery? I should have bought mushrooms instead – at least mushrooms can go into a salad. Celery is useless”. After staring at the leafy stalks for a minute, you suddenly realize that Glee has already started. Before you know it, you’re camped out in front of the TV with a bowl of cereal in your hands, happily munching Capt’n Crunch and singing along to the latest Beyonce-Josh Grobin mashup song. Now, I love cereal for dinner as much as anyone, but too many nights of sugar and carbs can really impact your energy levels. Plus, you spent good money on that celery, and it won’t take much effort to transform it from a limp stick into an amazing meal.

“But Jessie”, you whine. “Cooking takes time, and effort, and I don’t even like celery anyway”. How can you overcome your inertia and actually start cooking? You don’t need fancy equipment or tons of time, you simply need to go create something edible! Here are some action steps:

1. First, go into the kitchen.
2. Make yourself stay in the kitchen for twenty minutes.
3. During those twenty minutes, explore! Dig in the pantry and see what’s there. Did you buy curry powder on a whim and never use it? Have your dishes been piling up in your sink so high you haven’t been able to reach the water faucet? Open up the curry and wash your dishes.
4. After twenty minutes, give yourself permission to leave the kitchen if you want. Hopefully your kitchen is cleaner and more organized than when you first ventured in. Go through these four action steps once a day for a week, then come back to this list.
5. If you don’t want to leave the kitchen yet, or you’ve already spent a week introducing yourself to your kitchen, then the next step is to decide on one ingredient. Pick just one item you would like to eat. Today’s item: celery.
6. Google “celery + vegetarian + recipe”. Seriously, you’re already obviously an Internet user, so use the Internet to your advantage. I find tons of dinner inspiration by simply googling the contents of my pantry.
7. Go through the results until you find a recipe that includes ingredients you already have in your pantry.
8. Stay in the kitchen! I know it sounds obvious, but if you leave your kitchen you will not cook dinner. I bring my laptop into my kitchen so I can listen to Pandora while I cook.
9. Follow the recipe, and don’t leave your kitchen until dinner is finished! Get a stool for your kitchen so you can sit and surf the Internet while the oven is preheating.
10. Enjoy your dinner! Even if it your concoction tastes weird, you just learned more in twenty minutes than you would have by watching Glee.

This recipe was passed down to me from my fiance’s Grandma Sara. If you’ve never tried cooking celery, onions, and carrots together, you are in for a surprise. Your kitchen will smell incredible, and your friends will be in awe of your amazing culinary skills. In terms of dinners that can be eaten with a spoon, this soup is a million times better than Capt’n Crunch.

Grandma Sara’s Veggie Soup


Two tablespoons of olive oil

Three stalks of celery, diced

Three carrots, peeled and diced

            I sometimes just cut up baby carrots

One small onion, diced

Two cloves of garlic, diced
            Or one teaspoon of the pre-diced garlic

Two small cans of tomato soup

One can of corn

Three cups of water or veggie broth

8 oz. lentils or chickpeas

Extra veggies, based on what you have in the fridge: mushrooms, diced tomatoes, or spinach

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese to taste


In a large stock pot, heat up the two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, onions, and carrots. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add the water, tomato soup, corn, and lentils (or chickpeas) to the pot. If the soup is too thick, you can add more water. Add any extra veggies you want. Season with salt and pepper (I like lots of salt in this soup). Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook for 30 minutes if using lentils. If you’re using chickpeas, your soup will be ready after cooking for 15 minutes. Ladle 1/2 of the soup into a blender, and blend it up. Add the blended soup back into the rest of the pot and stir. If you like your soup creamier, you can blend the entire pot of soup. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve!

~Semi-Veggie Jessie


Whole Wheat Couscous Salad with Avocado and Raisins October 18, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — semiveggie @ 12:50 am
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Semi-veggie?  I know, it doesn’t seem fair.   You secretly wish I would declare allegiance to your side, whether you are a card-carrying PETA member or a regular at the Outback Steakhouse.  You want to force me to decide, already!  You think I’m completely tormented by my gastronomic limbo.  After all, my double-agent culinary agenda means dirty looks when I request the last vegetarian meal on an airplane, not to mention the quiet gasps around the dinner table when I take a bite out of a chicken leg.  “How can she live like that?”, you wonder.  Well, you can relax.  I’ve made peace with my semi-veggie eating habits, and I’m excited to share my daily dinners with you.  For example, this couscous salad is delicious, filling, and easy.   This unusual combination of ingredients will quickly become a favorite dish.  

Whole Wheat Couscous Salad with Avocado and Raisins


One ripe avocado, cubed

1/2 cup unsalted cashews

1/2 cup raisins

One 16 oz. can of chickpeas

Two red sweet peppers, diced

Large handful of fresh spinach

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup whole wheat couscous, cooked and drained

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients.  Pretty, isn’t it?  I love the colors in this salad.  Next, mix the drained couscous into the salad.  The warmth from the couscous will melt the shredded cheese nicely.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  


~Semi-Veggie Jessie



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