When Game Day is Over: Go Meatless on Monday

Why am I writing about a meatless Monday recipe on a Friday? It’s not because I want the weekend to be over. Heavens no. It’s so you have time to prepare. It’s Super Bowl Sunday, after all, and if all the TV shows and food blogs are to be believed, you are going to have eaten your way through nachos, chicken wings, dips, and chili. And washed it all down with beer.

And you are going to feel very bloated on Monday.

One way to help with that is to skip the meat on Monday. I’d recommend skipping dairy, too. Which is why this recipe might be just the ticket to feeling better by Tuesday.

This recipe doesn’t require a lot of preparation. But it will require a trip to Wegmans or your fave grocery store unless you have a  stash frozen cauliflower and spinach in your house.  If not, and if you are an introvert like me, then you want to avoid Wegmans on Sunday because that is THE place to be.

I routinely forget this, despite shopping there since the doors opened 20-some years ago. Invariably, I will go in there after taking the dog for a long walk at Asbury Woods. Since wood walkers don’t care what you look like, I typically look like a 50-some-year-old woman who rolled out of bed, brushed her teeth, and put a leash on a 90-pound dog. Sometimes my hair is so bad, I wear a hat.

Of course, that can make things worse. I will take the hat off in Wegmans and have a combination of bed head and hat hair.

It is not pretty.

I keep lipstick and lip gloss in the cup container of my car. So I try to swipe some of that on before I head in to Wegmans. It doesn’t really help. Because now I have bad hair and lipstick. So it’s kinda like a car wreck: You try to look away, but can’t.

Of course, I could take the time and shower and put on makeup. But I’m really just taking a walk in the woods, enjoying nature. I might scare a few squirrels along the way, but that just gives the dog some amusement. This is why I have a dog. He doesn’t care what I look like. He’s just happy I take him for long walks.

So, if you do see me in Wegmans on Sunday morning, please don’t think I’m rude or that I’m avoiding you. OK, I might be avoiding you. But only because I really need to go home and take a shower.

My latest strategy is to go to Wegmans late on Saturday night when all of you are out on date night, or whatever married couples do these days. Then it’s just me and the high college kids with the munchies.

Because you aren’t  burying this dish in loads of cheese – the veggies really need to star. The key is a really good marinara sauce. You can make your own or use a jarred variety. Read the label and pick one without any added sugar. I like Rao’s (expensive, but very tasty), Newman’s Own, Classico Reserva (read the label to make sure you are getting the right Classico). Some others that I haven’t tried are Amy’s and Victorios.

The second secret is to buy frozen riced cauliflower. I bought the already seasoned kind, but that was an accident. Buy the unflavored kind and control your sodium and spices.

This may be made with shells, which you will need to cook, or fresh sheets of pasta, which you don’t. If you are vegan, you will want to buy the dried lasagna noodles and cook them briefly so they are pliable to roll.

Go team! Happy weekend! Feel good about yourself!

XOXOXO

marnie

marniemead@gmail.com

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Vegetarian Lasagna Rollups
This is a vegetarian lasagna that can also be vegan, if you choose to make your own pasta or buy pasta made with no eggs. If you buy the dried pasta sheets or lasagna noodles, you will need to cook them for 3 to 3 minutes in boiling water, drain, and run under cold water, in order to use them in this dish. If you want more of the American lasagna flavor, add some grated Parmesan or mozzarella cheese to the spinach mixture and top with cheese.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Microwave the spinach and the cauliflower according to the package directions. Drain spinach into a colander to drain and cool.
  2. In a food processor, puree the riced cauliflower with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasonings. Add milk or broth 1 tablespoon at a time, until it has a ricotta-like consistency. Mix in nutmeg and lemon zest.
  3. Spread equal amounts of cauliflower mixture on to each sheet of pasta. Count on 1 to 2 sheets per person, depending on appetite. Top with spinach. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Roll up.
  4. I used a slow cooker for this. You can use a 9-inch-by-9-inch or a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan (depends on how many roll ups you made).
  5. Spread some sauce on the bottom of the slower cooker insert or in your pan (about 1/3 of the jar). Place the rolled up pasta seam side down in your pan. Cover with remaining marinara sauce. Cook in slow cooker for 2 hours on low. Or put in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes. If you put cheese on top, it should be bubbly and hot.
  6. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes (otherwise they don't hold together). Slice and arrange on plates with some sauce. Sprinkle with cheese (or cheese substitute). You can garnish with some chopped parsley to make the plate pretty.
Recipe Notes

If you want to make your own pasta without eggs, follow Mario Batali's recipe here.

My pasta recipe is 1 egg to 1 cup flour, adding water if necessary to finish binding it.

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Share Some Love in February

February is here and I feel the need to share a little love. This is not like me because I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day, or any time where love is measured in a public fashion. This is a childhood scar – not from my parents – but from high school. All the popular girls received flowers on Valentine’s Day through some convoluted fundraiser. I received none, of course.

This was in the days before parents could send their kids flowers or candy to make sure their kid wouldn’t suffer social humiliation at school.

It made me a stronger person today. Really.

Anyway, there’s not a lot of love in the air these days. My phone bings with alerts on the political front. I shy away from booting up my computer because, inevitably, I am drawn to Facebook, where the vitriol can barely be confined to the screen. It feels like it is leaping through time and space and invading my personal solace.

My entire working life, and what supported my family, is in support of the First Amendment. But it doesn’t mean I have to share, or like, what is said. I could just not launch Facebook, but then I would miss cute baby pictures, dogs dancing in snow posts, or even news that someone’s loved on has passed on. I would miss the milestones of your life. I would miss your warm vacation pictures (please keep posting). I would miss your family.

So I keep reading. Because there is much love around. And I find apps and extensions that block certain words or posts I don’t want to see. They aren’t perfect, but they do the trick for now.

Another solution is to take a walk in nature. I’ve been taking a lot of walks. Asbury Woods, now that the snow has covered the mud, is among my favorites. It’s an ideal walk to meditate, collect, and continue.

So I’m here to share a little love today with a simple heart cookie made from meringue.

XOXOXO

Marnie

Marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

Print Recipe
Meringue Heart Cookies
This will make 1 to 2 dozen cookies, depending on the size. Cream of tartar is optional, but is a great stabilizer for the egg whites. The almond flavoring makes these taste more like cake. These don't spread when baking, so you can make them close together, about 1/2 inch apart.
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. A stand mixer is best to make these cookies. You can use a hand mixer, but then it becomes a more active project. In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they are white and fluffy and starting to make peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time (no more than 1/4 cup), and continue to beat until the meringue holds stiff peaks.
  3. You want the sugar totally absorbed into the egg whites. To test, just get a dab of the mixture on the edge of a plate and use your finger to test to see if there is any gritty texture from the sugar. If so, keep the mixer going. The cream of tartar will prevent over mixing.
  4. This is going to take anywhere from 7 to 20 minutes, depending on your mixer.
  5. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip or a star tip. The different tips will make different types of hearts. You can also use a gallon-sized zip-top bag and snip a ½ inch off at one corner.
  6. Draw heart shapes on a piece of parchment paper as a guide. Place the parchment on your baking sheet, with the ink side down.
  7. One technique with the round tip: Think of making a Y with the tops of the Y touching. Start by making a small round as the left side of the heart and pull straight down to create tear drop shape. Repeat for the right side of the heart, making sure your round touches the left side, and drag the bottom of the drop down into the left side so they connect.
  8. A technique with the star tip: Outline your heart, then fill it in.
  9. Decorate with sprinkles.
  10. Bake for about 60 to 70 minutes, alternating the baking sheets, top to bottom and front to back, about halfway through baking. (The time does depend on how humid or dry a day it is.) The meringues are done when they release easily from the parchment paper. When the meringues are finished, turn OFF the oven. Open the oven door slightly, and leave the meringues in the OFF oven for about 30 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Crack eggs when cold. But bring whites to room temperature before whipping.

Use your stand mixer; this will make it so much easier.

These are best made in dry conditions. When it is humid, they get chewy quickly.

You can dip or brush these with white or dark chocolate and add more sprinkles.

Adapted from JoyofBaking.com

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