Category Archives: Uncategorized

Basil Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Happy September! Are you looking for something delicious to make? Still holding onto summer as the school year starts? Well, look no further because this recipe is my new obsession.

This summer I shared my homemade marinara sauce to celebrate the bounty of summer tomatoes. After that I showed you my favorite cashew basil ricotta “cheese” that I put on almost everything. Now we put them together! I took the ricotta and stuffed it into some jumbo pasta shells, topped it with sauce, and baked it until it was perfect.

This is a recipe that tastes just as delicious straight out of the oven as it does three days later, cold from the fridge. Make it for a large meal or for dinner for the week because these leftovers will last.

What are you eating this week?

Get the recipe!

Getting To Know You

Last week, Willow at Will Cook For Friends tagged me in a game.  It’s a getting to know you game!  I think it’s a great opportunity to get to know your fellow bloggers, outside of the recipes.  I’m so excited to have been tagged!  So, without further ado, here’s a little about me (and the game):

The Rules:

1. Remember to post the rules (check!)
2. Share 12 things about yourself your readers don’t already know
3. Answer the questions presented by the person tagging you
4. Ask 12 questions of your own, and tag others to play along (tag 12 if you can, but 6 is totally fine, too)
5. Be sure to comment on the blogs of those you’ve tagged to let them know they’re in

12 Things About Me:

·  My favorite sandwich when I was little was peanut butter and American cheese.  I have no idea how I got started on it, but I have very distinct memories of making that sandwich.  It’s probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever willingly eaten.

·  Sometimes, I wish I could just be a full time student for the rest of my life.  I tend to forget how cool things are, and how much I like learning about them.  I’m kind of a huge nerd, in case you couldn’t tell.  And on the same note…

·  I was a huge theater dork in high school.  I did musicals and (non-musical) comedies.  It’s funny looking back on it because I’m not that great of an actor, and at best you could say that I can carry a tune (sometimes).  But I loved it anyway.

·  When I interact with other people, I am smiling and/or laughing almost constantly.  Sometimes this gets me in trouble because people tend to think I’m super interested in them, but really I just don’t want to be rude.  And I often use the laughing and smiling to cover up being intenselyawkward.  Because I am soooooo awkward.  Like, first season of “The Office” awkward.

·  I am the least confrontational person ever.  It’s a problem.  I don’t get things done.

·  I love cats.  And I want one.  So badly.  I relate to cats – they’re independent and self-reliant but can sometimes also be cute and cuddly and sweet.  I feel like I’m the same way.  I also love taking naps in sunny spots.

·  I love dancing!  More on this below.

·  I also love reading.  I love how you can put your own life, your own problems, on hold in live in another world for just a few hours.  I love how you can get lost in that world and somehow become a part of it.  Reading is an escape, in such an amazing way.

·  I make lists like crazy.  Sometimes people think I’m stressed out because I list the gazillion things I have to do, but really making that list keeps me calm.  Making something into a list makes it easier to go through and check things off.  I’m not stressed out until I start yelling.  I try not to get to that point too often.

·  I like writing.  When I was in 5th grade, I decided to write a chapter book.  It was pretty decent for a 5thgrader, though I never made it past 50 pages or so.  Since then I’ve given up the idea of writing something real and big, but I’ve always loved creative writing assignments in school.  Now, of course, I’ve translated some of that love into this blog, but it’s not quite the same.

·  I play soccer.  It’s fun.  Once upon a time (in high school), I was pretty decent.  Now, I’m mostly just out of shape, playing in a rec league with people who are much better than I am, but it’s still a lot of fun.

·  I’m a huge clutz.  HUGE.  Like, trip over my feet when I walk, drop things constantly, and am always getting bruises from walking into things kind of clutz.  Most of the time I just laugh at myself.

Will Cook for Friends asks:

·  What is your favorite quote or saying?  This is a complicated question.  I have a ring that has an inscription on the inside that says, in Hebrew, “Don’t lose hope.”  I think this is an incredibly important thing to remember.  But I wouldn’t necessarily call it my favorite quote.  I’m going to throw another one out there, because I think it describes my life very well, and it’s by my favorite author, Douglas Adams: “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

·  What did/do you want to be when you grow up? I totally wanted to be a spy.  No joke.  I thought I would be all Sydney Bristow-like from Alias.  Up until about a year ago, I still totally thought this was going to happen.  Since then, I’ve changed my mind and now I’m heading towards becoming a dietician.  It’s a much more realistic goal, I think.

·  When you began blogging, what were your expectations and were they met, exceeded, or neither?  I expected family and friends to follow my blog and for it to be more of a creative outlet for me than anything else.  It has gone way beyond my expectations.  I have followers I’ve never heard of before, I have pictures up on foodgawker, and I have people whose blogs I really admire tagging me in awesome things like this game.  The more my blog expands, the more of a creative outlet it becomes for me, since I’m inspired by so many other people and encouraged by the comments readers leave and I find myself pushing harder with recipes and photography.  It’s really become a passion of mine, which is something I totally did not expect.

·  Is there a food or dish you’d really like to make but are afraid is too hard? If so, what is it?  Anything involving agar agar.  I want so badly to try using it, because I know I can do totally awesome things with it.  But for some reason it terrifies me.  I’ve gotten as far as buying some, but it’s been sitting in my cupboard for 2 months now.  I’m totally open to ideas on ways to ease me into it.

·  What would you say is your biggest kitchen mishap?  One time I tried making butternut squash gnocchi.  I had seen recipes before, and I tried following one, but in the end I had to add so much flour to the mix that it just tasted like regular gnocchi, which was exactly not the point.  Plus, it didn’t really cook up quite right.  I’m pretty sure I ended up throwing out most of the mix.

·  What would you say your greatest accomplishment up till now has been (in the kitchen or otherwise)?  Figuring out what I actually want in life.  I know, that seems like something that’s not an accomplishment, but it took me a little longer than I would have preferred.  I’m not the most patient person, and I like working towards goals, but for a little while I felt like I was flailing; unhappy with where I was but not having any idea where I would from there.  And I’m in my 20’s, so who’s to say I won’t change my mind again, right?  But this is still recent enough that I feel like it’s a huge accomplishment.

·  What first inspired you to cook?  I don’t think there was a specific inspiration.  I don’t even remember when I started.  Growing up in a traditional Jewish household, we always hosted at least one large meal each weekend, more than one if it was a holiday.  So Fridays, after school, I was required to help my mom cook and bake.  Duncan Hines brownies were my specialty.  I was never inspired, I just did it.  Since then, it’s actually my interest in nutrition and how food affects the body that’s grown.  I tend to look at cooking from that perspective, and then I get inspired to change recipes to fit what I’ve learned.

·  After a long hard day, what would be your ideal meal to come home to?  Pizza.  It’s a cure-all for me.  DC is seriously lacking in good, thin crust pizza, and it makes me sad about life sometimes.  You can put anything on a pizza to fit your mood, and when it’s good pizza, it’s exactly what you need.

·  What is one of your guilty pleasures?  Watching Grey’s Anatomy.  Please don’t judge me too harshly.

·  Besides food/blogging, what are some of your favorite hobbies or past times? I ballroom dance.  Competitively.  I started a few years ago, took a break for a bit, and now I’m back at it.  I love it, it’s such a great combination of dancing and competitive sport.  Plus, the sparkly costumes are AWESOME (the fake tans, not so much).

·  Where would you most like to travel to, visit, or return to someday, and why? South America.  Specifically, I really want to go to Machu Picchu, but South America in general is the only inhabited continent I haven’t been to, and I’ve heard great things and I really just think it’s time to head down there.

·  If you could have any famous person over for dinner (or any meal), who would it be and what would you make?  Does the famous person have to be alive?  If not, it would totally be Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s series.  I love his humor, and based on pretty much everything he’s ever written, I think it would be the most entertaining dinner ever. 

12 Questions for My Fellow Bloggers:

·  What’s your favorite cooking/food memory?

·  If you had unlimited funds and all the time in the world, what would you do with it?

·  What’s the one song that when you hear it, you can’t help but sing along, no matter where you are or what you’re doing?

·  What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and from whom?

·  What’s your guilty pleasure?

·  What’s your comfort food?

·  What’s your signature dish?  Why?

·  What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

·  When you’re not cooking, what do you do in your free time?

·  What made you start blogging?  What keeps you going with it?

·  Who, or what, inspires you?

·  What’s your favorite time of the year, and why?

I want to hear from you!

·  Ruby @ That’s So Vegan

·  Nikki @ The Tolerant Vegan

·  Sarah @ Sarah Cupcake

·  Colleen @ The Smart Cookie Cook

·  Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out

Can’t wait to see what you guys have to say!

Lots of Exciting Things Happening…

Big things are happening here at The Inventive Vegetarian.

So first of all, I am very excited to say that I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award!  A big THANK YOU goes out to Chris over at Sweet Mornings who nominated me!

Liebster is German for “dearest” or “favorite,” and the award is for up-and-coming with less than 200 followers.  Here are the rules for the award:

– Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog
– Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you
– Copy and paste the blog award on your blog
– Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed
– Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment on their blog

So, the blogs that I would like to nominate are:

Just As Delish – beautiful photography and creative recipes
I Can Cook That – the way Kaitlin attacks recipes from all over is inspiring, which is pretty much the message of the blog
Spoon With Me – my mouth just waters every time I read a new post
Awakening With Food – some incredibly creative dishes, not to mention amazing chocolate desserts
Sundays with Jennie – Jennie is a busy med student with a sense of humor and some delicious recipes up her sleeve.  Reading her posts are always a treat.

I just want to say thank you thank you thank you to everyone who reads my blog.  I started blogging just about 6 months ago, as skeptical as can be, and what started as a hobby has turned into a passion.  Thank you so much to everyone for looking, for commenting, for passing along recipes.  I’m so happy to share my virtual table with you all.

In related news, I’ve finally given in.  I created a Twitter account.  I hate myself a little bit right now for doing it, but then again, this is also how I felt when I started blogging, and now I can’t seem to stop!  So go ahead and follow me on Twitter @InventiveVeg.  At some point I’ll figure out how to use it.  I hope.

Finally, I also created a Facebook page.  I know, I’m being sooooo social network-y today!  Or maybe I just have a lot of organic chemistry I’m trying to avoid.  Either way, “like” me on Facebook!

Ok, that’s it for my big announcements.  Thanks again to Chris for the award, and now I have to get back to work.  Or maybe I’ll start planning out my next cooking project instead…

Cheers!

I guess you could say that this blog is over a decade in the making.  It really all started when, as a very strong-willed 10 year old, I decided to become vegetarian.  The details of why are not important, the point is, I was no longer willing to eat animals.  Much to my parents’ chagrin, meat was only the latest thing I decided I didn’t like enough to eat.  For the first few years of vegetarianism, I ate little more than bagels and cream cheese.

Lucky for me, I grew up in a house that loved food too much for me to continue being the least healthy eater ever.  My family entertained every weekend, meaning I would come home from school on Fridays and immediately wash my hands and help my mom bake or cook whatever was being served that weekend.  My assignments ranged from soup to salad to that Duncan Hines brownie mix we always seemed to have in the pantry.  These Friday afternoons shaped me in two important ways:

1. I grew up always cooking different things.  Despite the Hungarian Jewish heritage my mom brought to her kitchen, the only “traditional” things I’ve ever made were Challah and Hamantaschen.  I was constantly exposed to new dishes and different ingredients.
2. I have absolutely no idea how to cook for only 1 or 2 people.  Cooking for a dozen people, on the other hand, is the most natural thing in the world.  I apologize in advance for my recipes that could feed an army.  I’m still learning portion control in cooking.

Over a decade after I became the world’s pickiest eater, I now have my own kitchen, and I seem to have inherited my mother’s compulsion to buy every cookbook on the shelf as well as her need to feed people.  I’ve also spent the last who knows how many years hearing my friends exclaim that vegetarian food just can’t be filling.  How could I possibly not eat meat?  Where do I get my daily dose of protein?  Aren’t I always hungry?  Part of my attraction to cooking is to prove these skeptics wrong.

I’ve also taken an interest in health and nutrition, and I try and incorporate what I’ve learned about the body into my cooking (though I make no excuses for my baking – there’s no such thing as a healthy cake, no matter what they’re marketing these days).  And during my forays into nutrition and food literature, I’ve also been leaning closer and closer to becoming vegan.  My recipes often reflect my search for ways to satisfy my cravings for staples like macaroni and cheese in healthy and/or vegan ways (also, it’s been kinda fun to experiment with vegan baking – I still surprise myself when I turn out a delicious cake with no eggs!).

Anyway, this blog is really a combination of so many things.  It’s part record of my culinary growth, part journey to new and tasty food palettes, part proof to the unbelievers that vegetarian and, dare I say it, even vegan food can be delicious and satisfying.  This blog is a collection of ideas, experiences, and most importantly, recipes for the inventive vegetarian or vegan meal.  I try to keep my recipes as simple as possible and as healthy as I can.  I just hope that you, too, can come to appreciate the meatless wonders that I have enjoyed.

Cheers and good eating!

 -The Inventive Vegetarian