San Diego boasts sunny weather year-round, beaches and a laid-back nature, but one of its best offerings is authentic Mexican food.

I really feel bad for anyone who hasn’t yet packed their bags just to try this Mexican food, but I know that’s impractical. Fortunately, there’s a cheaper way to take your understanding of the taco to the next level — make it at home!

Local spots around here always offer Mashed Potato Tacos. It may sound strange, but when you make and eat them, you will rejoice. And, please, while you’re enjoying them, don’t think about the calories or carbs! Enter the creamy, comforting fiesta without any guilt. You can worry about burning it off later.

Thanks to my boss who shared his secrets with me, we were able to make these quickly and easily. Here’s how you get the party started.

Make a batch of basic, creamy mashed potatoes. Add some Mexican blend cheese and green onion at the end.

Then, assemble the taco in this order (more details in the recipe):

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While making the lentil burgers yesterday, and getting his hands into it (like the picture here) the Meat-eating Military Man said:

This is NOT right or normal. A carnivore should not be getting his hands into mashed lentils and making burgers.

Well, Meat-eating Military Man, it’s also not “normal” for a vegetarian to dig her hands into “mashed” up cow and make burgers.

But we both do it…because we love each other. ;)




When you start a blog, you (usually) always vow you will update regularly. And then…you don’t. Just like how I haven’t posted — or tweeted, or really been on facebook — in almost two months.

Well, the Meat-eating Military Man took the kitchen hostage and has been forcing vegetarian me to eat sausage and steak all day! Help! Just kidding… :)

The reality is, the Meat-eating Military Man was gone quite a bit, we traveled for weddings and holidays, and we just got plain old busy. I know you’ve heard/read that busy excuse over and over like a bad jingle.

Before I let the very boring jingle go on any longer, let’s talk about food. Here’s what we made last night: these lentil burgers with Saveur‘s Roasted Garlic Chipotle Mayo, and Apple, Manchego and Chive Salad [attempted, recipe not perfected.]

I saw the mayo while flipping through this month’s Saveur, and made the burgers just so we could eat the sauce. The picture looked that good.

Roasted Garlic Chipotle MayoRoasted Garlic Chipotle Mayo

The spicy sauce certainly did not disappoint. The Roasted Garlic Chipotle Mayo was so easy to make (4 ingredients), and made those vegetarian lentil burgers finger-looking good for the carnivore in our house.

vegetarian lentil burgers

Lentil Burgers with lettuce, tomato, avocado and Roasted Garlic Chipotle Mayo

I made the Apple, Manchego and Chive Salad because the Meat-eating Military Man and I tried — and loved — it at Cafe Lurcat. I wanted to lick my plate clean, but of course I didn’t because a lady does not do that at a fine restaurant! ;) The flavors were just so fresh and perfectly married, I needed to replicate it right away. I searched the internets, and begged my mother-in-law (an amazing cook and food connoisseur) to help me figure it out!

Well, after testing and trying different combinations — of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, lime, and honey — we landed on the recipe after the jump. It was tasty, but wasn’t exactly right. The search goes on.

Apple, Manchego and Chive SaladApple, Manchego and Chive Salad

Have you made this salad? How do you make it? Cafe Lurcat, I’ll maybe eat a bite of local, sustainable sausage if you tell me…

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Endive and Blue Cheese Salad

Creamy Sweet Potato & Rosemary Soup

I’m embarrassed. My last post was over two weeks ago. Yikes! This is a testament to how busy it has been around our household — the Meat-eating Military Man has been making me read many books and write papers about meat. He rebelled against vegetables.

Just kidding. :)

He’s been absolutely wonderful while I juggled work and additional projects and assignments. He has done more than his fair share of housework, has cooked multiple meals and never complained when weekends had to be traded in for work. Thank you, Meat-eating Military Man, my officer and gentleman!

I finally got into the kitchen long enough to make salad dressing and soup from scratch. Both recipes — the Endive and Blue Cheese Salad and Creamy Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup — are from the Food Network. These caught my eye because they were seasonal and more importantly, because when making vegetarian meals I’m sure meat-eaters will love, creamy and cheesy are key words. :)

The Meat-eating Military Man loved this simple vegetarian meal. Hey Meat-eating Military Man, do you still dislike soup and think soup and salad can’t make a complete meal?

These two dishes were delicious. They didn’t require any tweaking, which is a rarity for me! The dressing in the salad was finger-looking good. I’ll be making the dressing again and using it for other salads. The soup was creamy and the right amount of sweet.

This post was written in support of Meatless Monday. Join the Movement!  

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Meatless Monday: Slow Cooker, Vegetarian Stew

Perfect for Fall

Please meet my new best friend:

I won this Crock Pot during in Publications International’s raffle at BlogHer11! I have never won anything like a raffle, so I was pretty excited. It was funny, too, because my awesome friend had just bought me a slow cooker after I mentioned not having one — just because! She’s amazing.

Anyway, I finally busted out the Crock Pot because as you may have noticed, serious cooking has decreased in our household. :( It’s busy season for both of us and especially for me, the (amateur home) cook. I’ve been working seven days/week, so we’ve been making a lot of quick, simple meals.

With fall underway though, I hope my new best friend will come to the rescue.

For our very first slow cooker meal, we made EatingWell’s Kabocha Squash, Chickpea & Red Lentil Stew. I tweaked the recipe a little. It caught my eye because the description said it was modeled on North African stews. I’m always looking for new flavors from around the world!

Using seasonal kabocha squash and hearty chickpeas and lentils, it was the perfect fall meal.

Topped with crushed peanuts and cilantro

We ate the stew over brown rice and wilted spinach. (See it in the background?)

Lots of vegetables

I honestly wasn’t sure if the Meat-eating Military Man would like this vegetable-loaded meal – since he has said he doesn’t like chickpeas, lentils and soup. Sometimes I just make a dish and expect to hear, “can this not go on our rotation?” Shockingly, he loved this meal. Seriously, I was flabbergasted. I, on the other hand, liked it, but it wasn’t my favorite — everything ended up too mushy. The peanuts and cilantro helped add flavor and texture.

Lesson learned from this meal is that if someone in your family says they don’t like a particular food, don’t take their word for it. I almost felt mean while prepping this stew, but I’m glad I did — and so is the Meat-eating Military Man. We’ll just have to find ways to tweak it so it’s even better!

Also, anyone have any great ideas for meals during busy season?

This post was written in support of the Meatless Monday Campaign. Join the Movement! 

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Thai Tofu and Butternut Squash Red Curry with Thai Jasmine Brown Rice

Once upon a time, the Meat-eating Military told me he did not like tofu or curry (like when he told me he did not like soup). Imagine his horror if he knew I combined the two tonight!

Well, there was no horror. Instead, he cleaned his bowl and said, “Was that curry? I thought I didn’t like curry!”

I thought so, too, Meat-eating Military Man! (No, I knew better. I knew he just needed to try it again. But the jury is still out on Indian curry. Stay posted.)

For this curry, I drew inspiration from Heidi Swanson’s book, “Super Natural Every Day,” and from my friend’s Pumpkin and Chicken Curry in San Francisco. I didn’t have pumpkin though, so used butternut squash instead. It was a great way to use seasonal squash!

Happy Fall with Thai flavors

After a long day at work, the Meat-eating Military Man and I wanted a delicious, but easy-to-prepare dish. This curry was perfect. He helped chop all the veggies and I put it all together. I’m glad it tasted good — you know if the Meat-eating Military Man liked it, it was good.

(My only critique: Next time, I’ll make sure to have some green around — Thai Basil leaves would have been great.)

Click “Continue Reading” to get the recipe! 

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Emeril Lagasse’s Cold Cucumber Soup Is Refreshing and Flavorful–Perfect For a Summer Meatless Monday

Cold Cucumber Soup with a dollop of sour cream

Once upon a time, the Meat-eating Military Man told me he did not like soup. I responded with, “oh really?”

Hearty fall and winter soups made with pumpkin, squash, carrots, broccoli, and potatoes convinced him they could be both flavorful and filling. Now that I had won him over with hot soups, how would he respond to cold cucumber soup?

I had been thinking about making some when the Meat-eating Military Man returned home, but had not researched recipes. Fortunately, right around the same time, my friend served Cold Cucumber Soup for dinner at her house!

It was flavorful, rich and more complex than I imagined the soup would be. I practically licked my bowl clean.

I enthusiastically asked her for the recipe and she pointed me to Emeril Lagasse’s Cold Cucumber Soup. The Meat-eating Military Man and I made this easy soup together–just coarsely chop the vegetables and herbs, sprinkle with spices and then blend with plain yogurt and sour cream in a blender.

This soup is perfect for a summer Meatless Monday and pleasing to look at, too. Here’s Emeril’s Cold Cucumber Soup recipe. I didn’t make any changes!

This post was written in support of the Meatless Monday Campaign. Join the Movement! 

A great recipe for the vegetarians and carnivores at your kitchen table!

Meaty: Chicken Peanut Soba Noodles

Meatless: Tofu Peanut Soba Noodles

When I made these soba noodles, I knew I couldn’t sell it to the Meat-eating Military Man by saying, “we’re eating buckwheat noodles tonight.” He would have lost interest at buckwheat. I don’t blame him. Had I not eaten these noodles in my parents’ house, I might be skeptical, too.

Instead, I said, “we’re eating Asian-style noodles.” I wasn’t lying, but I made sure to keep his interest. To further sell it, I added, “with peanut butter sauce!”

And at peanut butter, he was sold. I win!

The Meat-eating Military Man would have eaten this dish with tofu, but I knew he would appreciate having meat. So I added chicken to his carnivorous portion. This recipe is one that is easy to serve vegetarian- or carnivore-friendly because you add the vegetarian or carnivorous option at the last step. The base for both–soba noodles, scallions, snow peas, peanuts and peanut dressing–are the same.

Here’s how simple it is to cook the tofu and chicken without complicating the process:

Cook both the same way and at the same time 

 Two skillets with meat and tofu is what our stovetop generally looks like–it really doesn’t add extra time.

I gathered inspiration from Heidi Swanson’s 101 cookbooks and from Claire Robinson of Food Network’s Five Ingredient Fix. The recipe below shows what I did to make this. The recipe may make a large amount (serves 6-8), but because it tastes good chilled, it’s the perfect dish to keep for leftovers. Lunch is ready to go without any extra effort!

Click the “Continue Reading” link to get the recipe and enjoy the carnivorous or vegetarian version. The Meat-eating Military Man certainly enjoyed his bowl.

P.S. – Take a close look at these funny chopsticks. (Hint: sumo wrestlers). Our friends got these for us when they were in Japan. :)

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Making Patties

Remember that lentil burger I packed with me to a friend’s Fourth of July BBQ?

Well, we (yes, Meat-eating Military Man included!) love it so much, I make it regularly and make sure there are patties readily available in the freezer. They are perfect for days when we don’t have time to cook a whole meal from scratch. It’s better than grabbing that fast food burger!

Heat oil in a skillet and cook burger on both sides–ready in minutes

I first saw this lentil burger recipe on 101 Cookbooks and then modified it by adding garlic and some spices. Of all home-made veggie burgers I have tried, this one was best in texture and flavor. If the Meat-eating Military Man will eat it, you know it has to be good.

Make up a batch, enjoy some this Meatless Monday and then freeze the rest in individual baggies so you won’t ruin your diet when you need a meal fast.

Click the “Continue reading” link to get the recipe!

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Yesterday, I served the Meat-eating Military Man this for dinner:

This is a ceramic pot so not the stone pot (‘dolsot’), but still gets the job done.

A beautiful pot filled with air! It’s part of a new diet plan we’re trying. Just kidding! We like food way too much in this house to forgo it for air.

When the meat-eating military man opened the lid of the ceramic pot, this was inside:

Rice on bottom with some meat, mixed veggies, fried egg on top. Dolsot Bibimbab.

He loves this tasty Korean meal called Dolsot Bibimbab (돌솥 비빔밥). Warm rice is placed at the bottom of the pot and then topped with an assortment of seasoned vegetables (great way to get the Meat-eating Military Man some more veggies–I win!), some meat, and a fried egg. Some people put a raw egg in that is supposed to cook from the heat, but I like to fry mine first. Once it looks all pretty in the bowl, you mess it up! Mix the contents into deliciousness with some sesame oil and hot red pepper paste or gochujang (고추장). Yum! Since the dish consists mostly of rice and veggies, it’s it’s a great way to use up leftover rice and vegetables.

Close-up view

There is Bibimbab too with the same contents, but since bibimbab does not come with the stone pot or dolsot, it is not served sizzling hot. The hotter temperature really makes this dish taste that much better.

Here’s why: when the rice is placed into the heated pot, it fries and gets crispy. This rice is called nurungi and is so good. You scrape it off the pot as you eat the bibimbab and it adds a nice texture and flavor.

I love dolsot bibimbab, but need it to be vegetarian. So I order it sans meat at restaurants and put some pan-fried tofu cubes in it at home! This is not customary and my Korean grandmas are probably looking at me in complete bewilderment, but I’ll show them the Meat-eating Military Man’s meat-filled bowl to appease them.

Click the “Continue reading” link to see the recipe and enjoy eating one of our favorite Korean dishes!

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