Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

A Holiday Fritatta for vegetarians November 25, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 8:29 AM
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For the past 8 years I’ve been a vegetarian (specifically a pescatarian because I still eat seafood). I primarily made the choice for health reasons and secondarily because I was quite skeptical of meat not prepared by my dad. Since cutting meat out of my diet, I’ve never looked back. This diet has helped me think more about what food I’m putting in my mouth and strive for better balance in my meals. I can’t imagine ever eating meat again because I don’t miss it…anyway, I digress.

The holidays for vegetarians can be difficult. Sure, it’s a challenge when all the meals center around roasted/fried/brined meats. But, the harder part is convincing the host you don’t need a Tofurkey to feel included. A few years ago, my aunt was hosting Thanksgiving for the family and was nervous about what I would be eating. Most of the time I was fine just eating the sides, but I knew she would feel better if I brought my own protein. After a quick discussion with my mom, I decided to make a fritatta. It’s simple to make, warm, rustic and a veggie-friendly protein that doesn’t make the rest of the world raise an eyebrow. Oh, and it’s really inexpensive to make.

That first fritatta Thanksgiving, my asparagus and Gruyere cheese fritatta was quickly devoured by the entire family. Since then, I’ve just switched out the ingredients each holiday to keep it interesting. This year my family is traveling and won’t be cooking any part of the Thanksgiving meal. So, I decided to celebrate a little early and make my fritatta before we left.

My mission this week was two-fold: create a new delicious fritatta and use up as much food in my fridge as possible. My mother gave me some of her fresh herbs that needed to be used. So, that is where I started my recipe search. Basil. Not a bad place to start, eh? I searched for a recipe on a new site my dad found,, for some inspiration. Quickly (cause their search is pretty awesome) I found a fritatta recipe based around basil and tomatoes, two of my favorite things. Using this recipe as a guide, I knew I only needed to pick up some eggs, an onion and a tomato to make this meal happen (talk about recession friendly!).


  • 1 Thinly sliced onion
  • 1/2 shalot; sliced
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 md Tomato; diced (be sure to remove the seeds)
  • 1/4 c Fresh basil; chopped
  • 1/4 c fresh Italian parsley; chopped
  • 1/4 c shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 c shredded mozzarella
  • 3 tbs ricotta cheese
  • 1 16oz container Egg substitute
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Sauté the onion and shalot in butter and 1tbs of olive oil in a large pan (oven safe) until translucent.
  2. Add in the chopped herbs, salt and pepper and tomatoes.
  3. Remove the veggie mixture from the pan and set aside. Turn your oven on to a high broil
  4. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and once it is heated, add half the eggs and all the ricotta cheese.
  5. Cook for less than a minute on low heat, combining the egg and cheese.
  6. Add the veggie mixture back into the pan and top with the remaining egg. Cook until the egg is mostly done, just a little liquid at the top.
  7. Top with Parmesan and mozzarella and place pan into oven to broil until all the cheese is melted and is slightly browned.
  8. Remove the pan from the over and let cool for a few minutes. Slice like a pie and serve!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Dining In: Homemade Hot and Sour Soup November 19, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 2:28 PM
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I didn’t always love hot and sour soup. Growing up I opted for egg drop when we would go out for Asian food, but my dad always seemed to order at least a cup of hot and sour soup. If it was on the menu, he would give it a whirl — most often with general disappointment in it. Now, my dad is very particular about his soup…it’s never hot enough for him. Sometimes he may comment on the flavor, consistency, but ALWAYS the temperature. When my mom fixes soup she will often warm the soup bowls and microwave my dad’s portion before serving it to him. Anyone who has shared enough meals with my dad is well aware of his temperament when it comes to soup.

So, back to hot and sour soup. Later in life I decided to give it a whirl and really liked it. Like my dad, I love to order it whenever I get the chance; however, I do not fuss as much about the ‘hot’ part of the soup.

When I came across this recipe for an easy hot and sour soup, I knew it was time to try making this delicious soup myself. I made a few changes to make it vegetarian, but it truly is an easy soup to make. Don’t be intimidated!


  • 3 fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 package firm tofu, cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1 can bamboo shoots, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 scallion, minced


  1. Lightly steam the mushrooms in a bowl of hot water. Cover, and set aside for a few minutes. Remove the mushrooms and slice thinly. Reserve the mushroom liquid.
  2. Pour the stock and soy sauce into a large pot along with the salt. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, add the sliced mushrooms, the mushroom liquid, and bamboo shoots. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Toss in the tofu, pepper, and vinegar. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  4. Whisk together the cornstarch with 4 tablespoons of cold water. When pot is boiling, add the cornstarch slurry and stir well until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the egg. Stir gently until it is incorporated.
  5. Serve the soup with a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkling of scallion.

As you can tell from the above photo, my wonderful parents joined me for dinner. My dad graciously picked up some spring rolls from our favorite Thai place and a couple bottles of Pinot. He loved the soup (you can see the steam rising from the bowls)!


Dining In: White Lasagna with Spinach and Basil November 12, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 7:39 PM
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I have always loved any pasta dish, especially lasagna. I want to believe that is due to my Italian heritage (thanks Dad!)…but I’m pretty sure I just love carbs, cheese and tomatoes. My best friend’s mother Linda makes the most delicious homemade lasagna for birthdays, holidays and other special occasions filled with fresh veggies and topped with just a little cheese and sauce. The lightness of the dish is truly impressive. When I saw this recipe for Green Lasagna on BrokeAss Gourmet, I thought that this could be the beginning of my own unique homemade lasagna.

  • 1 package no-boil/refrigerated lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves (I used the leftover purple basil from last week)
  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 15-oz container ricotta cheese
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, cleaned
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • yellow and red tomatoes


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a large rectangular pan with a little olive oil and set aside.
  2. In a food processor or blender, combine ricotta, basil, 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Puree until smooth.
  3. Saute the onions over medium heat until light brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Spoon a little of the ricotta sauce into the bottom of the pan. top with an even layer of noodles. Spoon on more sauce and half of the spinach and onions. Top with noodles, another layer of sauce and the rest of the spinach and onions. Top with noodles, more sauce, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan.
  5. Bake covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes. Remove foil and add sliced tomatoes. Cook for the remaining 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.



Dining In: Farfalle with Gorgonzola and Veggies November 4, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 8:06 PM
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After almost a year of cooking from a recipe once a week, I finally felt a bit challenged. For months I’ve been bookmarking and favoriting dishes that sounded good, and I have quite a collection now. However, I blame my indecisiveness more than anything else.

Finally, this recipe from Serious Eats grabbed me. Was it the Gorgonzola? The Zucchini? Well, to be honest, the photo really called me. The pasta dish looked simple and sounded flavorful. I swapped purple basil for regular basil (since they were the same price and the purple looked a lot fresher) and increased the portions of both the zucchini and celery to make it a bit heartier. The recipe below will serve 1-2.

The dish was warm and filling, and next time I think I will include a yellow squash as well. Enjoy!


  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 large rib of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 pound whole wheat farfalle
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 ounces Gorgonzola, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 large sprigs purple basil, chopped


  1. Place 4 quarts of water in a large pot, season with salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Wash the zucchini and trim the ends, then grate them on the largest side of a box grater and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and butter and sauté the shallot and celery over medium heat, stirring, until the vegetables soften and begin to turn translucent. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for another minute.
  4. Add the zucchini to the pan and sauté until the zucchini begins to soften and wilt.
  5. In the meantime, add the pasta to the boiling water and stir occasionally as the pasta cooks.
  6. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. When the pasta is almost al dente, add the lemon juice, 1/8 of a cup of the pasta cooking water and the cheese to the pan, stirring to melt the cheese. Stir in the parsley and basil and let the mixture simmer gently for a moment or two.
  7. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sauce. Let the pasta cook in the pan for a minute and transfer to a warm bowl and serve immediately.