Thursday, July 21, 2011

Food, Family and the Dinner Table

Last week we had some friends over for dinner. I had planned a vegetarian meal that I thought would appease most everyone. We sat down to eat, visited and enjoyed our time together and after they left, I thought something seemed "off" about the meal.

I was trying to figure it out when I realized how relatively plain the meal was. It hadn't occurred to me to make a lot of sides, fillers, salads, etc. No dessert was planned although the kids located ice cream in the outside fridge I had forgotten about. And it hit me. Our family is changing how we "do" dinner.

We no longer have a meat, a veggie, a pasta or bread, some other side and dessert. Often, we have a big platter in the middle of the table, family style, full of rice/couscous, roasted veggies and more veggies.  Dinner is no longer about food. It's about family. A time to sit and visit about the day, find out what's new, what's on the agenda for the evening. Our meals consist of good real food, enough that we are fed and nourished, but not so much that we eat until we are stuffed.

The food is no longer the main attraction. We are.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

So You Want to Try Meatless...

Several years ago now my husband started going vegetarian. Much to my chagrin. I hated it. In my estimation supper included a meat, vegetable, pasta or rice or bread (or a combo) and possibly a salad. Meat was the main attraction!

So there I was, stuck with how to handle the situation. I offered to make meals 2-3 times a week that were either vegetarian or the meat could be easily removed or was more like a side dish, and I kindly explained to him I was happy to help but I was not going to become a vegetarian. I'm still not. =)

However, over the past few years we've gone to 95% of our meals being vegetarian. I will usually grill a chicken breast for the girls to have along side if they want it, but I buy very little meat.

Why in the world would you want to do this? I've found a few surprising reasons:
1) Meat is expensive. I spend $10 or less every pay period on meat now unless we are hosting a special event or guests, and I want to accommodate the meat eaters. Even then, I have a few go to vegetarian meals that do work for most every body.
2) Since I don't buy much meat, I can spend more on the stuff I do buy. Hormone free, cage free meat and eggs, organic milk, more produce in general, less processed, higher quality items.
3) I really do feel better. When I do have meat, especially a heavy item like a burger or a steak, it really wreaks havoc on my system. I've found more often than not, unless it's a couple of nuggets, meat free works better for me.

Some days I come across a vegetarian meal I want to make it every night of the week, make everyone I know try it, and certainly tell everyone about it. If you are reading this: you're everyone. Congratulations!!

This meal hits the trifecta: cheap, fast, everyone will eat it. I found it on It's the sweet of the brown sugar and spicy of the pepper jack that compliment each other so well.

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 (10 ounce) can whole kernel corn drained
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 14 cup salsa
  • 14 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons butter divided
  • 8 (8 inch) flour tortillas
  • 112 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese divided
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in beans and corn, then add sugar, salsa, and pepper flakes; mix well. Cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.
Melt 2 teaspoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the skillet, sprinkle evenly with cheese, then top with some of the bean mixture. Place another tortilla on top, cook until golden, then flip and cook on the other side. Melt more butter as needed, and repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.

If you've been wanting to try meatless, here's your chance! Serve with chips, salsa and sour cream. Delish!