Semi-Veggie Jessie

Vegetarian recipes for beginner home cooks

Broccoli and Red Pepper Stir-Fry October 29, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — semiveggie @ 4:22 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Broccoli and Red Pepper Stir-Fry

I have a foolproof method to guarantee your success in the kitchen.  My method is easy and effective; once you start using it, your friends will be fighting for a seat at your kitchen table.  In addition, this method can help you avoid ordering take-out too often.  A few years ago, J. and I were on a first-name basis with our local Thai food delivery guy.  Our addiction to curry got so bad that our delivery guy got us a Christmas present one year for being his best customers.  Don’t be like us.


So how can you avoid take-out temptation?  Just use one of these three forbidden ingredients:


1.  A bottle


2.  A can


3.  A package


I know what you’re thinking.  A food blog is supposed to be about how to make food!  You didn’t come to SemiVeggie to learn about how to reheat a pre-packaged frozen burrito.  I’m pretty sure you know how to do that on your own.  And honestly, most days I love to make food from scratch.  I often make my own pizza dough and salad dressing, and I’ve even gone so far as to attempt making my own mayonnaise before.  Cooking from scratch is fun and rewarding, when I’m in the mood.  But why is there a weird bias in the food world against using pre-made items?  You’re viewed as virtuous when you make cookies from scratch, but seen as weak when you succumb to the tube of chocolate chip dough.  Yet both scenarios involve you standing in your kitchen, creating food for loved ones.  Yes, I know that prepackaged food is full of sodium and chemicals.  I realize that it’s healthier to make everything from scratch.  I can even promise you that it’s way more fun to make your own salsa rather than buying it.  But sometimes, a bottle can make the difference between cooking dinner and ordering greasy Chinese take-out.  I’m telling you right now that it’s ok to use “the forbidden three” in the kitchen every once in a while.


For example, last year I attempted to make lemon meringue-topped cupcakes for a friend’s birthday party.  I spent over an hour making the lemon curd filling from scratch, melting butter and stirring the creamy custard.  The lemony end result was incredibly delicious, and my kitchen smelled like summertime.  Yet by the time I had finished scrubbing out the crusty yellow glaze from the pot I realized I wasn’t having fun anymore.  I just couldn’t face the thought of whipping egg whites for meringue, and I was dreading creaming the butter for the cupcake batter.  I was sick of cooking, tired of standing, and was about ready to pour the lemon curd down the drain.  I was dangerously close to leaving the kitchen, cupcake-less.  Then, I spotted an old box of yellow cake mix in the back of my pantry.  I’m pretty sure it was full of hydrogenated fats and high fructose corn syrup, but it saved my cupcakes and my sanity.  I added lemon juice to the cake mix and poured the batter into a cupcake pan.  After cooling the cupcakes, I spread the pale yellow lemon curd on top instead of icing.  Success!  No one ever knew about my original meringue ambitions, and my friends were thrilled with the sugary treats.


Let’s say it together: “It’s ok to use forbidden ingredients”.  This recipe uses bottled stir fry sauce.  You can make your own sauce, if you want – throw some chopped ginger, soy sauce, water, cornstarch, honey, and garlic together and simmer.  Or, you can use some pre-packaged help. Sometimes, chopping veggies is all I can manage after a long day of explaining to fourth graders why it’s a bad idea to use violin bows to stage a swordfight.  So, on days like that, I chop my veggies, and I let the bottle do the rest.  Dinner is served in ten minutes, and it’s even faster than take-out.  Just make sure to tell your usual delivery guy that you won’t need his services tonight.


Broccoli and Red Pepper Stir-Fry


Two tablespoons of olive oil

Two cloves of garlic, minced

One head of broccoli, chopped

Two red peppers, diced

One block of extra-firm tofu

Preparation: Take the tofu out of the package.  Place a heavy bowl on top of the tofu.  Let drain for twenty minutes.

8 oz. stir fry sauce

Optional additions: cashews, peanuts, or sesame seeds



Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and cook for two minutes.  Add red peppers and broccoli.  Toss to combine ingredients.  Cook for five minutes, stirring to make sure the veggies don’t burn.


Meanwhile, cut drained tofu into cubes.  Heat up a dry skillet over medium heat.  Place tofu cubes on skillet and cook for one minute.  Flip the tofu cubes and cook another minute.  Continue to flip tofu until the cubes are browned all over.  Sprinkle tofu with salt and pepper.  Add the browned tofu to the veggies.  Pour stir fry sauce on top, and mix to combine.  Add nuts or sesame seeds, if you want to be fancy.


~Semi-Veggie Jessie


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

Filed under: Recipes — semiveggie @ 12:50 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


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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