Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fun with Veggie Dogs

Our good friends had an Olympics Opening Ceremony party last Friday. They made an awesome spread complete with handmade empanadas, G’s famous homemade hummus, a fruit salad featuring the Olympic rings carved from watermelon rind, and veggie pigs in a blanket. This was the first of three meals we would have last weekend that featured the wonderment that is a veggie dog.

I know that some vegetarians poo-poo processed vegetarian products that resemble meat products, but I personally love them. It’s not that I miss meat and I personally don’t like any product that is too “meaty” but who doesn’t love the concept of the hot dog? You put it on a bun and add all kinds of things to it so that you don’t notice the consistency of the strange tube like thing you are eating – how American is that? And, as I plan to set out in this post, they are downright versatile.

So, first up, we have veggie pigs in a blanket. These couldn't be easier. Just cut some veggie dogs into thirds, wrap in dough and bake until golden. Our friends used leftover empanada dough (maybe if we're lucky they will post a comment with the recipe for their empanadas). We have used the biscuit or crescent roll dough that comes in a tube in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Kids love them!

On Saturday, we went camping and had (you guessed it!) veggie dogs over the camp fire for dinner! The key to roasting veggie dogs is not to leave them on too long. The casing can get a bit chewy if left on too long.

And, finally, for Sunday dinner:

Vegetarian Corn Dog Casserole
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups thinly sliced celery
1-1/2 cups sliced green onion
1-1/2 pounds vegetarian hot dogs
2 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (8.5 ounce) packages dry corn bread mix
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

Cooking Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a shallow 3 quart baking dish.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, then saute celery for 5 minutes. Stir in green onions, and saute an additional 5 minutes. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
Cut hot dogs lengthwise into quarters, then cut into thirds. In the same skillet, saute hot dogs for 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Mix hot dogs into celery and onions. Set aside 1 cup of this mixture.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, sage, pepper, and corn bread mix. Stir well to combine, then stir into remaining hot dog mixture. Mix in 1-1/2 cups cheese. Spread mixture into prepared baking dish. Top with reserved hot dog mixture and remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown.


This was tasty and the kids love it!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Eggplant Bulgur Casserole

I love casseroles because 1) it’s all in one – easy to serve, easy to clean-up; 2) it’s a great way to get more vegetables in my kids' diets; and 3) I am from the Midwest – doesn’t everyone from the Midwest love a casserole?

This is a great recipe for mid-week. I made it the night before I wanted to serve it for dinner and then we took it later in the week for lunch. The eggplants and tomatoes are from the local farmer’s market. Bulgur is a great whole grain that has a slightly nutty flavor. It is available by other grains and flours in most grocery stores. Instead of the Indian spices, you could use Italian herbs. We served it with goat cheese sprinkled over the top. Yum!

Eggplant Bulgur Casserole

2 medium eggplants, chopped into 1 inch square pieces
4 tomatoes
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
1 cup bulgur
2 cups water

1. Add mustard seeds to 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot and sauté over medium high heat until the seeds start to pop.
2. Turn down to medium heat and add onions and sauté for a few minutes until they start to soften.
3. Add the eggplant, tomato, cumin, turmeric and coriander and continue cooking over medium heat for about 5 minutes – eggplant should be starting to soften and skin may be browning.
4. Mix in the bulgur and cook for a few more minutes before adding the water. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.