Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Awesome Sandwich

This sandwich is hearty and satisfying.  Tender, tasty warm tempeh with smooth avocado and crispy lettuce on fresh bread makes for a fabulous lunch.  The tempeh is delicious on its own too and if you cut it in larger slabs be great on the grill.

Spicy Tempeh Avocado Sandwich
If you cook the entire  package of tempeh you'll have enough tempeh for about four sandwiches.  The spice levels below result in a mild spiciness level.  Double chipotle and chili powder if you want it very spicy.  You can find chipotle pepper in adobo sauce in most grocery stores in a small can in the Mexican foods section.

1 package of tempeh
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice or apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce*
1 tablespoon chili powder*
1 tablespoon cumin powder
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegetable broth (or water)
Generous splash water

Olive oil
1 ripe avocado
1 lime, juiced

Cut the tempeh into 8 equal squares, then cut each square in half by thickness so there are 16 thin squares.  Whisk all the marinade ingredients (the lime juice thru the splash of water) together in a tupperware and put in the tempeh.  Close the container and shake to coat the tempeh.  Marinade at least five hours and preferably overnight; shake the container a few times.

When ready to cook, heat a small amount of olive oil and a few tablespoons of the marinade in a skillet just large enough to fit the tempeh pieces without overlapping.  Once very hot, add the tempeh pieces and cook on medium heat for about five minutes or more-- until the liquid is absorbed and the tempeh browned.  Flip the tempeh and add a few more tablespoons of the marinade and cook the same way on the second side.  Once both sides are browned add a good quarter cup or so of the marinade and stir the tempeh to deglaze the pan, allow the tempeh to absorb this final amount of marinade.

While the tempeh is cooking, mash the avocado with the lime juice and a few shakes of salt.  Spread a large spoonful of avocado on a piece of bread, add a few pieces of lettuce and then a layer of warm tempeh pieces.  Top with another piece of bread and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Salad Lover

A bad/good situation: being over hungry with a fridge and backyard full of fresh produce.  Had the foresight to make a batch of quinoa earlier in the day; it was cooling in the fridge.

Inspiration: ginger dressing on a quinoa salad.  Final product?  Delicious.

Quinoa Vegetable Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing
4-6 servings.  Use whatever vegetables you have around.

3/4 cup dry quinoa
1.5 cups water

1 large kale leaf
1 large handful spinach
1/2 portobello mushroom
1 medium tomato
1 small green pepper
1/2 can white beans, rinsed
2 carrots
Small avocado

Bring the water and quinoa to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool in the fridge.

Finely chop all the vegetables except the avocado.  Place in a large bowl.  Once the quinoa is cool, combine together then toss with the dressing.  Place avocado slices on top and enjoy.

1 carrot
2 inch piece of ginger
About 1 tablespoon sized chunk of shallot or onion
1 large clove garlic
Soy sauce-- start with 2 tablespoons
Rice vinegar-- start with 3 tablespoons
Dark sesame oil-- start with 2 teaspoons
Sesame oil-- start with 2 tablespoons
Water-- start with 1/4 cup

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender (very easy and little chopping needed if using a Vitamix) and blend until smooth.  Test and add additional seasonings as needed.  The dressing should be good and on the strong side as its taste will become diluted once it's tossed into the salad.  I used the entire recipe for the salad.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July in a Bowl

Very happy with how this soup came out.  Double the recipe if you want leftovers.  The broth is very flavorful due to the combo of the seasonings and all the delicious fresh backyard and local vegetables.  It's also fast and easy to make-- about 20 minutes start to finish.

Black Bean Garden Soup
3-4 bowls.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
Kernels cut from one ear of corn
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
About 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dry)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 can of black beans, drained
1 can of water
1/2 very large tomato, chopped (1 medium tomato)
1 very large kale leaf, stem removed and finely chopped
Juice of one lemon

Warm up the oil over medium heat in a dutch over (or a crummy soup pot like I used as I wasn't expecting this to be blog worthy).  Add the onions and let them cook a few minutes, then stir and add the jalapeno and cook a few more while you cut the corn off the cob.  Add the corn and allow to cook two or so minutes more.  Add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring.  By now the onions should be browned or browning and the pepper smell should be strong.  Add the oregano, cumin, coriander and salt; stir.  Then add the beans, water and tomato and turn the heat to high to bring to a boil.  Make sure to stir well and bring anything stuck on the bottom of the pan off. Once it is boiling bring the heat down to low so it is at a low bubbling simmer.  Let it simmer on low for about five minutes.  Add the kale and lemon juice, stir and let cook about a minute more.  Taste for salt level and you'll likely need to add at least a 1/2 teaspoon.  Then serve piping hot.

You could serve with sour cream, yogurt, fresh cilantro and/or hot sauce but I found this soup was just too perfect on its own to mess with the flavors.  I imagine this soup would be even better the next day, but it didn't make it past dinner.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Leftover quinoa, sugar snap peas, cucumber & lettuce.  Quick dressing emulsified in a small jar-- yogurt, olive oil, chives, parsley, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic and salt.  Delicious.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Super Fresh

After a trip to the farmers' market compiling this tasty lunch was a snap.  Fresh sugar snap peas, cucumber, lettuce leaves and kohlrabi with homemade faintly "basiled" hummus drizzled with leftover creamy basil dressing (recipe in the previous post).

Garden Hummus

1 can chick peas, drained
1 heaping tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Large pinch salt
1 clove garlic
2 fresh chives
2 large basil leaves
About 1/4 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender.

Shortly going to try cooking and eating the kohlrabi leaves...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Herb Garden Harvest

We have massive amounts of oregano, basil, sage and mint in our garden so yesterday I made it my mission to use mass quantities of at least a few of them.  The result was a really excellent dinner.  The bean dish uses a hot oven which I only recommend if it is under 80 degrees.

Creamy sage beans and crunchy green salad with basil dressing.
Creamy Sage Beans
4 servings.  Takes an hour and a half to make.

1 bulb of garlic
2 cans white beans (cannellini/great northern/navy/etc), drained
1 carrot, diced
6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
2 cups veggie broth
Fresh ground pepper

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wrap the garlic in foil and roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes.  You'll know it's done when tongs easily can mash the bulb. Remove from the stove and reduce the oven to 380.

While the garlic is roasting and cooling prep the rest of the bean dish and make the salad below.  Combine the beans, carrot, sage, broth and a few grinds of pepper in a small dutch over.  Once the garlic has cooled enough that you can handle it, use a serrated knife to cut the top 1/2 inch from the bulb so you have chopped off the very top of each clove, exposing them.  Squeeze each clove on to a cutting board.  Finely chop the roasted garlic and stir into the dutch oven.  Cover and place in the oven for about an hour, stirring occasionally and making sure the beans never get dry.  The beans should grow in size, the dish should become creamy and when you remove the pot everything should be very moist but not soupy.

Crunchy Green Salad with Basil Dressing
4 side dish servings.  Resist the urge to drink the dressing.

1 small head of dark leafy lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
Handful of spinach, torn into bite sized pieces
4 stalks of celery, sliced into bite sized pieces
Roasted hazelnuts, chopped into small pieces (or pine nuts)

Creamy basil dressing:
About 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves (handful)
Juice from one lemon
Large pinch salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 clove of garlic
2 heaping tablespoons Greek yogurt
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Place all items into a blender or food processor and process until everything is pureed.  Makes enough dressing for about 2 recipes of the salad above.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Best Veggie Burger

So one of my favorite food and cooking blogs TheKitchn.com created a recipe in an attempt to replicate the amazing veggie burger of Northstar Cafe in Columbus, Ohio.  I'm very excited to try it and those looking to make a homemade veggie burger that is grill-friendly this one will do it.  Link to the full post and recipe below


TheKitchn.com: Best-Ever Beet and Bean Burgers
Inspired by the veggie burgers at Northstar Cafe in Columbus, Ohio
makes about 6 burgers
Photo from TheKitchn.com
1/2 cup brown rice (doubled if you like more rice)
1 onion, diced small
3 large red beets (about 1 pound), diced small
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons parsley, minced
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
thin slices of provolone or monterey jack cheese (optional)
Bring a large amount of water to a boil. Add a handful of salt and the rice, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the rice until it's a little beyond al dente. You want it a little over-cooked, but still firm. This should take about 35-40 minutes. Drain the rice and set it aside.
Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the onions are translucent and softened. Stir in the beets. Cover the pot and cook until the beets are completely tender, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan using the cider vinegar.
Empty the black beans into a large bowl and use a fork to mash them up a bit. Add the cooked rice, the beet and onion mixture, the lemon juice, the olive oil, and all the spices. Stir to combine and then taste for seasonings. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once it tastes the way you like it, add the flour and stir until you see no more dry flour.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over the highest heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil - the oil should completely coat the bottom of the pan. When you see the oil shimmer and it flows easily, the pan is ready.
Using your hands, scoop up about a cup of the burger mixture and shape it into a patty between your palms. Set it in the pan, where it should begin to sizzle immediately. (If it doesn't sizzle, wait a minute or two before cooking the rest of the burgers.) Shape and add as many more patties as will fit in your pan. Once all the patties are in the pan, reduce the heat to medium-high.
Cook the patties for 2 minutes, then flip them to the other side. You should see a nice crust on the cooked side. If they break apart a little when you flipped them, just reshape them with the spatula - they'll hold together once the second side is cooked. If you're adding cheese, lay a slice over the burgers now. Cook the second side for another 2 minutes.
Serve the veggie burgers on soft burger buns or lightly toasted sandwich bread along with some fresh greens.
Cooked burgers should be eaten that same day. You can also save leftover mix in the fridge for up to a week and cook just one or two burgers as you want them.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Vacation

After two back to back fabulous trips, I wanted a dinner that was simple, full of vegetables and super healthy.  The garden kale, the grocery store and the Vitamix delivered.  This soup is not attractive (looks thick and pea green) but it is really delicious.  I promise.

Summer Fresh Vegetable Soup
2-3 servings as a main dish.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 very large carrots or 4 med. carrots, roughly chopped
4 stalks of celery with their greens, roughly chopped
Large pinch of salt
2 large portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 large kale leaves, destemmed and roughly chopped

1/2 lemon, peel and seeds removed
Handful of raw cashews*
2 cups water
1 veggie bouillon cube
Sriracha or other hot sauce
Unsweetened almond or other milk

*Replace with 1-2 tablespoons of cashew butter or tahini if using a regular blender.

Add the first five ingredients to a hot, deep pan and saute over medium high heat for about five minutes, stirring regularly.  Add the mushrooms and garlic, stir and saute for a minute or so.  Bring the heat down to medium and cover with a lid.  Let cook for 5 minutes.  Stir again, add the kale on top of the vegetables and cover again with the lid to steam the greens, 5 more minutes.  Uncover and stir again.  The mushrooms should be browned and releasing their juices.

Add the lemon, cashews, water and bouillon to the blender.  Add a squirt of hot sauce (you can always add more later).  Add a splash of milk (you can always add more later).  Add in the cooked vegetable mixture and pour in any pan juices.  Blend at high speed until blended.  Blend 2 minutes until hot in the Vitamix.  Blend until combined in a regular blender, and then pour into a pot on the stove to heat through.  Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Lovin

A delicious and even fast dinner if two are cooking together.  An early summer salad and Beijing-inspired dumplings.  All vegetables in season at the market... we had a fresh mushroom medley in our dumplings from the nice mushroom man.  (Apologies on the poor quality photos.)

Green Salad
Asparagus, sugar snap peas and cucumbers in avocado mint dressing.  Four side dish servings.

Small bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
Pint sugar snap peas, cut into 1 inch pieces
Large hunk of cucumber, cut into small cubes
1/2 avocado
Mint leaves, a few
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest from half a lemon
Salt, generous pinch

Blanch the asparagus and the pea pods, separately, in boiling water.  (I did the pea pods for about 30 seconds and the asparagus for about 2 mins.)  Dunk immediately in an ice bath. Prep the cucumbers.  Make the dressing-- combine the remaining ingredients in a blender.  Stir everything together in a boil, test for salt.  Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

Mushroom Tempeh Dumplings with Delicious Sauce
Two main dish servings for very hungry people.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup of finely diced mushroom, whatever varieties you like
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/3 block of tempeh, crumbled/cut into very small grain-sized pieces
Ginger powder (or grated fresh)
Splash of rice wine vinegar and ginger beer if you have on hand
20 or so wonton wrappers

Chili garlic sauce, jarred
Rice wine vinegar
Soy sauce
Lime juice
Dark sesame oil

Heat the oil in a wok or deep cast iron skillet.  The onion, mushrooms and garlic should be so fine they are nearly shredded or grated.  Start sauteing the onions first for a minute or two, then add the mushrooms, garlic and tempeh.  Stir fry at medium high heat for several minutes.  Dust with ginger powder, a generous pinch of salt, add the vinegar and ginger beer and stir.  The tempeh will absorb much liquid so add some water if you need to keep things from sticking.  Cook until everything is browned and soft.  Turn off the heat, unload the mixture into a bowl and set aside.

Get a large pot of water bowling.  Brush one wrapper at a time with water, then put a spoonful of the tempeh mixture into the wrapper.  Follow the package instructions to make into dumplings--you basically fold into a triangle and stick the corners together.  This recipe should make about 20 dumplings.  Boil them 10 at a time, placing them gently into the boiling water and boil for 2 minutes until they start to become translucent then fish out with a slotted spoon.

To make the sauce, add a few heaping teaspoons of chili garlic sauce into a small bowl.  Add about a tablespoon of soy sauce, a generous amount of vinegar, a splash of lime juice and a splash of sesame oil.  Stir or whisk together.  Add a generous splash of water and taste the mixture for spicy, tartness and salt levels.  If too salty add a splash more of vinegar and water.  If not spicy enough add more chili sauce.  If too vinegary or generally intense, add more water.  Taste again until you get it right.

Serve the dumplings with small personal dipping bowls of sauce.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Back to the Blog!

Sorry dear readers for my absence.  Things have been a little busy.  And I'm sad I've missed posting many delicious meals.  Below is a photo from a particularly good should-have-been-blogged meal.

But first, a healthy summer dessert treat!  It comes out thick, creamy, sweet, minty and delicious!  Also comes out a pretty pale orange color, flecked with red and green.

Minty Fruit "Sherbet"
2 servings.  Technically more like a frozen yogurt-smoothie-cream but sherbet is the closest noun that describes its taste and texture.

1/2 pound frozen mango chunks (half a regular sized bag)
4 frozen strawberries
1 frozen fruit pop (I used an old large acai berry frozen bar)
4 dates, pitted
5 fresh mint leaves
About 1 cup of plain yogurt (regular style, not Greek/strained)

Blend it all up.  You'll need a high quality blender for this and I wanted it thick so had to frequently use my tamper to press everything through the blades of my Vitamix.

A post I wish I would have done was this dinner I made many weeks ago, made with warm fresh fava beans and local asparagus with a light dressing and parmesan shavings:

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Black Eyed Peas

Make this stew.  It is smoky, savory, delicious.

Black Eyed Pea Vegetable Stew
Five or more main dish servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 or so mini portobello mushrooms, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon chipotle chilies in adobe sauce, chopped
1 can black eyed peas, rinsed
1/2 can black beans, rinsed
2 veggie bouillon cubes + 5 cups water or 4 cups vegetable broth + 1 cup water
bunch of kale, destemmed and chopped
1 lemon, juiced

Saute the carrots, green pepper and onion in the oil in a deep soup pot for several minutes.  Then add the mushrooms and garlic, saute for several minutes more until the carrots have softened.  Add a generous pinch of salt.  Add all the spices and the beans; stir.  Add in the water and broth, bring to a boil then reduce to low heat so the mixture is barely bubbling.  Add the kale, stir to combine and allow to cook until the kale is wilted.  Then add the lemon juice, stir.  Serve alone or over rice

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring Pot Luck Dish

Quinoa Fruit and Vegetable Salad
About 8 side dish servings

1 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 celery root, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
handful of spinach leaves, chopped
5 button mushrooms, chopped
5 large strawberries, diced
2 navel oranges, peeled and cut into small pieces
juice of 1 large lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare the quinoa: bring it to a boil with the water and broth, then cover and cook for 15 minutes on low.

Clean and chop all the vegetables and fruit and put in a large bowl.  In a small bowl whisk some snipped chives and a few leaves of finely chopped mint together with the lemon juice.  Then add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, generous pinch of salt and some pepper, whisk together well.  Pour dressing over fruit and vegetables, stir to combine.  Place in the refrigerator.

When the quinoa is done, cool in the refrigerator for awhile to bring the heat down.  Then stir into the bowl with the fruit and vegetables.  Refrigerate until completely cool before serving.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pickle Experiment

I'll know in two days whether these are good or not... and hopefully they'll be good and I'll be posting about them...


Maybe it's because I'm wishing I was in Key West, but this was my post run smoothie today, and it was awesome, nearly transporting me to an island far far away.

Key Lime Cherry Super Smoothie
Two servings

4 key limes, peeled and seeded (or two regular limes)
large handful of spinach
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1/2 cup plain Greek, or other, yogurt
1 1/2 cups frozen dark sweet cherries
1/2 cup water

Blend like crazy.  Drink immediately.  Super tart and refreshing.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Inspired by a cookbook by a cooking school in Thailand, I put the following dinner together.  Luckily, I had a good set of ingredients on hand (except curry paste which is omitted but would be a good addition, added in the onion/broccoli saute).  It came out really good but does have many steps, so not a quick meal to make.  It's worth it though, it's super awesome.

Thai-Style Tempeh and Broccoli in Coconut Sauce
Three to four servings.  Amounts below are approximate, this is not an exact science.  Tofu would work well in place of the tempeh and other vegetables could be substituted or added.

vegetable stock
"thin" coconut milk (unsweetened So Delicious from a carton)
juice of two lemons, divided
rice wine vinegar
1 block of tempeh (or very firm, drained tofu)
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
ginger, finely chopped, equivalent to the amount of garlic
1 teaspoon lemongrass (from a jar)
2 teaspoons cumin powder
red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon or so, lemon zest
olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
small bunch of broccoli, diced
1 tablespoon corn starch
Sriracha hot sauce
soy sauce

quinoa or rice

Part one: marinate the tempeh
Add about 3/4 cup coconut milk, 3/4 cup stock, juice from 1 lemon, the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, cumin, zest, several shakes of red pepper flakes, a splash of vinegar and a pinch of salt to a sealable container and whisk together.  Cut the tempeh in half by width then into about 2 inch or so squares.  Put the tempeh pieces into the marinade, close the container and shake it all together so the sauce covers all the tempeh.  Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to four hours.

Part two: grill/cook the tempeh
Heat an electronic or other type of grill.  Once hot, add the tempeh pieces.  Steaming the tempeh would also work well-- place the tempeh into a steaming basket above water in a pot and steam until tender but still firm.

Part three:  make the dish
Once the tempeh is in the grill, add about a tablespoon of oil into a pan or wok and turn the heat to high.  While that is heating, combine 1 cup of quinoa with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of stock.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, cover and turn to low and allow to cook for 15 minutes.

Saute the onion and broccoli for about ten minutes at a high heat, stirring frequently.  Add a pinch of salt to the pan.  Flip the tempeh in the grill if necessary.

Once the onion is soft and brown and the broccoli is bright green and browning add the marinade to the pan.  In a small bowl whisk together about 1/2 cup more of both coconut milk and stock with a squirt of Sriracha sauce, add that to the pan as well and stir to combine.  Add the tempeh -- which should have nice grill marks and be about halfway done (firm-tender)-- stir and bring to a boil.  Cover the pan and turn the heat down, so it is bubbling slowly.  Cook for five minutes.

Combine 1/3 cup more of coconut milk with the cornstarch and whisk together.  Once the five minutes is over, remove the lid, add the cornstarch mixture, the juice of the second lemon and about 2 teaspoons of soy sauce.  Stir.  Taste for salt and spiciness level (add more soy sauce, lemon juice and/or hot sauce if you like).  Then serve over quinoa (or rice).

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sunday Funday

A fun-cooking Sunday.  From a surprisingly amazing smoothie (last recipe in post) to a dessert I was really happy with-- possibly best vegan ice cream I've made yet, lemon flavored.  And a creative farro dish in between.

Vegetable Fried Farro
Four main dish servings.

1 cup farro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely diced
4 carrots, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Coarse salt
About 1/2 bunch of kale, destemmed and chopped
Dark sesame oil
4 eggs, whisked

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Spread farro onto a baking sheet and toast the farro in the oven for 10 minutes.  If rushed, skip this step.  Put on two pots full of water to boil.  Add the farro to one once boiling, and cook for about 20 minutes or to the right level of doneness for you.  Keep the other pot warm so that you can bring it to a boil quickly later.

While the farro cooks, warm the olive oil in a skillet and then add the onion and carrots.  Saute for about 10 minutes, add the garlic, a generous pinch of salt and some pepper and saute for at least 5 minutes more.  Once the farro is done, drain it and leave it in the pot.  Bring the second pot to a boil and add the kale, cook for 5 minutes (or more if you prefer).  Meanwhile whisk the eggs and set aside.  Once the kale is cooked, drain it and toss it in the same pot with about 1 teaspoon of dark sesame oil and a generous pinch of salt; set aside.  Add the farro to the skillet with the onions and carrots, stir fry briefly; turn the heat to medium low and then pour in the eggs, stirring to spread evenly.  The eggs will cook quickly and once they are nearly done, add the cooked kale and stir together the entire contents of the skillet.

Shown served with a spinach and mushroom salad.

Lemon (Vegan) Ice Cream
Use a high speed blender OR soak the cashews for several hours until they are very soft before blending in a regular blender.

1 can full fat coconut milk
1 cup boxed coconut milk (like So Delicious)
About 1/2 cup raw cashews
About 1/2 cup maple syrup, or other sweetener
1/2 cup plus a bit more fresh squeezed lemon juice
Zest from 2 small lemons or 1 large lemon
2 teaspoons corn starch

Blend all the ingredients and either chill for a few hours in the fridge or use the much faster Jeni's home chilling method I described in my last ice cream post.  Once chilled, make the ice cream in your ice cream maker.

Power Juice-Smoothie (aka Juithie)
Two large servings.  Very delicious.  Sweet, but not too sweet.  Tart and tangy, but not overly.

2 sweet apples, cored and chopped
3 pieces kale, destemmed
2 large oranges, peeled and deseeded (I used valencias)
1 small lemon, peeled and deseeded
2 small carrots, rinsed and chopped
Sliced frozen peaches, the equivalent to about 2 peaches
About 3 tablespoons flax seeds
About 1 cup water

Blend thoroughly.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Simple Saturday Soup

Soba Noodle Miso Soup with Tofu, Kale and Mushrooms
Four servings

1 tablespoon seasame oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch ginger, chopped
4 "baby bellas" or other mushrooms, chopped
About 6 ounces dry soba noodles
1/2 block tofu, drained in a towel then cubed
1/2 bunch kale, destemmed and chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon miso paste
Red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
Small handful of finely shredded coconut, optional
Juice of 1/2 lime

Warm the oil in a deep skillet then add the onion, garlic, ginger and mushrooms and saute for 5 or so minutes.  Don't worry if things stick a bit.  While that is cooking, bring a pot filled with water to a boil for the noodles.  Once boiling, add the noodles and cook just a few minutes until noodles are al dente.  Drain and keep them in the pot.  Meanwhile, prep the tofu
and kale.  Once the onions, etc, are browned and softened, add the tofu to the skillet and allow one side of the cubes to brown a bit.  Add one cup of the vegetables broth, deglaze the pan.  Add the kale and the rest of the broth, bring to a simmer, stir and wilt the kale.  While kale is cooking, add in the soy sauce, a few shakes of red pepper flakes, the coconut and the dark sesame oil.  Place the miso into a brothy area in the skillet and stir it in that area with a fork until it dissolves, then stir the skillet well again.

Add the vegetable and broth mixture into the pot with the drained noodles. Stir in the lime, warm everything through and taste for seasonings.  Serve immediately.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Cleaning Out the Fridge

I pretty much think cows' milk is gross.  It is for baby cows.  But, whatever.  We had some left in the fridge because our foster baby just moved out, and we're about to go out of town.  We also had an entire, unopened carton of baby spinach.  That would surely go bad.  So, spinach soup.  This came out very good and all the dairy made it seem decadent-- two thumbs up.  This is NOT vegan.  But it IS delicious.

Creamy Spinach Soup
About four servings

About 1/2 cup of butter
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can navy beans, drained
1 large pinch of sea salt

a few grinds of pepper
a large pinch of dried basil
the entire carton of baby spinach (the smaller one, not the huge one)

1 cup of whole milk
3 cups of water
2 veggie or nochicken bouillon cubes (I used one of each)
About 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a large and deep skillet or medium sized soup pot (I used a big, deep iron skillet and then my trusty Vitamix to blend).  Then saute the onions for a few minutes, add the garlic and saute a few minutes more, until everything is soft.  Add the can of beans, stir and warm through.  Add the spices and stir.  The add in the spinach, no need to chop.  Pour the milk and one cup of water over the spinach, turn up the heat and stir a bit, cook for a minute or two, so the spinach starts to shrink in size.  Then smash the bouillon cubes and add them and the rest of the water into the pot, stir together and allow to cook a few minutes.  Meanwhile, grate the cheese.  Then dump it all into a blender and blend, or add the cheese to the pot, turn off the heat and blend with a stick blender.

Enjoy with a Duvel and a glass of water, if you like.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Decadent Dessert

So delicious.
Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream
3 cups of boxed coconut milk, like So Delicious
About 1 cup of peanut butter, smooth or chunky
About 1 cup of 2% fat plain Greek yogurt
1 date, pitted
About 2 tablespoons maple syrup
About 2 tablespoons sugar
About 1 tablespoon corn starch

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend thoroughly.

Now use the Jeni's home trick to quickly cool the mixture:  Pour the mixture into a gallon zip lock bag and close it.  Then fill a large bowl with ice and cold water, and plunge the bag into the ice bath.  Leave it in the bath for 15 or more minutes, until the contents of the bag feels as cold as the ice water.  Then pour into your ice cream maker by clipping off a corner of the bottom of the bag. Follow ice cream maker instructions.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Roast it

Was seeking a hearty, warm, nutritious dinner.  So roasted up a bunch of vegetables, glazed them with a sauce, and served them with quinoa and beans.  Roasted celery root is delicious-- but the vegetable itself looks crazy.  Cut off the knobby, beat up outside and dice the creamy white vegetable within.  Any vegetables will work fine but I definitely recommend the combination below.

Roasted Vegetables with Maple Balsamic Glaze
Four servings

1 very large sweet potato
1 celery root/celeriac bulb
1/2 large onion
2 large broccoli stalks
pint of mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic
olive oil
coarse salt
fresh pepper
a few sprigs of fresh thyme

About 1.5 tablespoons maple syrup
About 1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
About 2 teaspoons soy sauce

Preheat over to 400 degrees.  Peel and chop all the vegetables into bite sized pieces.  Toss in a bowl with about 2 tablespoons olive oil, large pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper and the thyme. Spread into a roasting pan and roast for about 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring every ten minutes.

Whisk together the maple syrup, vinegar, and soy sauce.  Put the cooked vegetables into a large bowl and pour the glaze over them, stirring to coat them all.  There should be just enough glaze to just cover all the vegetables, they should not be soaking wet with it, just a bare glaze and touch of flavor.  Serve with a quinoa and bean or other starch and bean pilaf and enjoy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Not Fat Tuesday

An imprecise, delicious one-pot meal.  We ate it with some bread and avocado, simply and tasty.

Creamy Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
4 servings.  All measurements below are estimates, I measured nothing and you don't need to either.

1 tablespoon olive oil
About 1 1/2 red peppers, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
5 small mushrooms, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups diced boxed (or canned) tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
a few shakes of red pepper flakes
fresh pepper

large handful cashews (use tahini instead if not using a high speed blender)
1 cup or so unsweetened, plain almond milk (or another milk you prefer)
About 1 cup Greek yogurt

Saute the onions and red pepper in the oil until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Then add the mushrooms and garlic and saute for a few more minutes.  Then add the tomatoes, broth, red pepper flakes, pepper and salt.  Bring to a low simmer for a few minutes.  If using an immersion blender, add about 1 tablespoon of tahini, the almond milk and yogurt to the pot, turn off the heat and blend.  Then bring to medium heat and heat through.

If using a high speed blender, add the tomato/pepper mixture into the blender with the cashews, milk and yogurt and blend for a few minutes until creamy and hot.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Spring Sunday

A salad for dinner during an early spring day.  Can be served warm or cold.

I recommend enjoying this salad with one of the best beers in the world, which I just discovered is carried at Whole Foods!  No trip to the BK (or Japan) required.

Orange Sesame Quinoa Salad
4 main dish servings

1 1/2 cups of quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water

2 tablespoons finely diced onion
1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and chopped
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup diced red pepper
1 orange, divided into segments then diced

1 orange, peeled (or juiced)
1 small piece of ginger (grated)
1 teaspoon miso paste
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
2 grinds of pepper
pinch of salt

Bring the quinoa, broth and water to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, prep the kale and onion and put into a large bowl.  Prep the pepper and orange and set aside.  When the quinoa is cooked, mix it into the bowl with the raw kale and onion, stirring well.  This will wilt the kale and soften the onions.  Put in the fridge to allow to cool a bit.

To make the dressing in a high speed blender, place all the ingredients (whole orange and ginger chunk) into the blender and blend at high speed until creamy.  To make without a blender, juice the orange and grate the ginger and whisk all the ingredients together until they are combined very well.

Stir together the quinoa, dressing, red pepper and orange pieces.  Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed.  Serve warm or cold.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Promise of "Great Mouth Feel,"

said by an actual human who ate this stew who was raving about how delicious it was.  True story.  This post needs no more introduction. I leave you with the very easy recipe:

Sweet Potato Stew
About 5 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 gigantic sweet potato or two regular sized potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 2.5 cups)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
A few shakes of red pepper flakes
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can diced tomatoes without salt
1 can chick peas, drained
1 can white beans such as navy beans, drained
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup boxed unsweetened plain coconut milk (Like So Delicious)
Juice of 1 lime

Saute the onions for a few minutes in the olive oil.  Then add the onion, potato, garlic and bell pepper, saute several minutes more.  Once everything is getting browned and softening add the spices and stir in.  Then add the tomatoes, beans, broth and milk and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and partially cover for about 20 minutes and the potatoes are tender.  Test for salt level and add a pinch more if needed.  Then turn off the heat and stir in the lime juice (do not skip this step!).

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Life Gave me Lemons

So we had a delicious lemony dinner.  Lemon tofu with gravy, lemon quinoa with kale and chick peas, and avocado with lemon on the side.

Baked Lemon Tofu with Tangy Gravy
4 servings

1 block of extra firm tofu

3/4 cup of vegetable broth
A glug of soy sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
A glug of apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons cumin

5 button mushrooms, finely diced
1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
About 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
A little water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes

This is how to quickly marinate tofu when you want marinated tofu at the last minute: Cut the tofu into blocks, place in between a folded kitchen towel to drain it, pressing down time to time or laying canned foods on top.  While that is drying out a bit whisk together the broth, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and apple cider in a sauce pan.  Remove the tofu and cut into smaller squares.  Place the tofu into the saucepan, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.  Partially cover.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and spread a thin layer of olive oil on top of it to prevent sticking.  Start preparing the quinoa below.  Let the tofu simmer for 15-20 minutes so it absorbs the flavor.  Then fish the tofu out of the marinade and place on the prepared baking sheet, no overlapping or touching.  Put in the oven.  Let it bake while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Add the mushrooms to the leftover marinade in the saucepan and bring back to a simmer.  Cover and let simmer about 10 minutes until the mushrooms are very soft.  Add the liquid smoke, a few tablespoons of water and the cornstarch, stir to combine.  Then stir in the nutritional yeast.  Keep simmering on low, stirring frequently, while the tofu bakes.

After they tofu has been in for twenty minutes, flip them and let them bake for another 5-10 minutes.  They should be nicely browned, dried out a bit but still moist.  The gravy should have thickened (if not, keep cooking and stirring or add a bit more cornstarch and cook longer).

Serve with the gravy on the side.

Lemon Qunioa with Kale and Chickpeas
4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion or 1 small onion, diced
About 1/3 of a red pepper, diced
4 small stalks of celery or 2 large, diced
Pinch of coarse salt
About 1 tablespoon cumin

1 cup of quinoa
Juice of 2 lemons (just over 1/2 cup)
About 1 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
1 can of chick peas, drained

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped into bite sized pieces

1 avocado cut into chunks, fresh lemon juice squeezed over

Saute the vegetables in the olive oil until the onions are browned and the pepper and celery have softened.  Add a pinch of salt and the cumin and saute a few minutes more.  Stir in the quinoa and continue to saute for a bit.  Then add the liquid and bring to a boil, stirring.  Once boiling, bring to a low simmer, stir in the chick peas, and cover.  Cook for 15 minutes.

Stir in the kale.  Add additional broth if the mixture is dry at all.  Cover and allow to cook a few more minutes.

Serve with the avocado.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Another (vegan) coconut ice cream recipe.  Because coconut is amazing-- and it contains plenty of healthy fats so needs no dairy to become creamy.

Plus, it is both healthier and easier than making dairy ice cream with eggs and cream.

This one has undertones of tropical fruit.  It freezes well.  This recipe is a keeper, but does require a really high quality blender-- if you don't have that, soak the cashews in some coconut milk overnight or for at least a few hours and replace the dates with another sweetener, and this should still work fine.

Coconut Ice Cream With a Hint of Tropical Fruit

1 can of full fat coconut milk
About 1/2 can worth of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
About 1/2 can worth of unsweetened plain boxed coconut milk
2 kiwis, peeled
A few chunks of frozen pineapple
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Small handful of raw cashews
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup
1-3 tablespoons of sugar
2 dates, pitted and chopped a bit
Large handful unsweetened coconut flakes

Put everything but the flaked coconut in the blender (start with the lower amounts of syrup and sugar).  Blend thoroughly.  Taste for sweetness level and add additional sugar or syrup.  It should be slightly sweeter than you want it in the end.  Once you blend in any additional sweetener, put the flakes in and quickly blend on low speed to incorporate and chop up just a bit.

Now use the Jeni's home trick to quickly cool your mixture (Jeni's ice cream, that is, get the cookbook it's amazing):  Pour the mixture into a gallon zip lock bag and close it.  Then fill a large bowl with ice and cold water, and plunge the bag into the ice bath.  Leave it in the bath for 15 or more minutes, until the contents of the bag feels as cold as the ice water.  Then pour into your ice cream maker by clipping off a corner of the bottom of the bag. Follow your ice cream maker instructions (my Kitchen Aid takes 10 minutes of churning and voila!, c'est ca).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Emergency Dinner in Less Than 10 Minutes

The situation: a sick, over-tired baby, in and out of total crying meltdowns coupled with a single, over-hungry adult.  The baby began to be occupied by playing with magnets on the fridge and chasing the cat, so I saw my brief opening.

Here's my emergency dinner, made in about 6 total minutes and cleaned up in about 2.

Veggie Burger with Fruit & Vegetable "Smoothie-Salad"
For one hungry adult and one finicky small human.

Super-fast burger:

  • Veggie burger into the microwave for 1 minute
  • Two pieces of bread into the toaster
  • Grab pre-washed spinach, sliced cheese, mayo and mustard from the fridge
  • Assemble the veggie burger and begin to eat.

Speedy smoothie:
Prep each fruit/vegetable and put right into blender as you go.  Use whatever fruits you have and any leafy green will do and will taste great.

  • Core a pear and cut into large chunks
  • Core an apple and cute into large chunks
  • Peel a kiwi, cut in half
  • Peel an orange, break into a few pieces
  • Large handful of spinach
  • Generous dump of flax seeds
  • About 5 chunks of frozen mango
  • Pour in a generous amount (about 1 cup) of plain, unsweetened coconut or almond milk

Blend like crazy.  

Give the baby some, start drinking yours.  For the one minute the baby is interested in drinking her smoothie you can get the blender clean and put your plate in the dishwasher.  Done & done.  Now you can "relax"-- slowly drink and enjoy the smoothie while you attend to (put to bed) the needy little one.  

Good night moon!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kale & Mushroom Soup and Salad

After spending some time in the South, I wanted a super-veg-heavy dinner.  The kale was tangy and delicious, the soup was savory and delicious, perfection.

Kale Salad
About four servings.

Large bunch of organic kale
3 carrots
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 lemon, juiced (fresh is a must for this)
Coarse salt
Extra virgin olive oil

First, prep the kale by rinsing it thoroughly, de-stemming all the pieces, and chopping into small bite sized pieces.  Put in a large mixing bowl.  Peel the carrots and then grate them, set aside.  Place the pine nuts on a baking sheet in a 350-400 degree oven until they start to brown and become fragrant (a few minutes).  Set aside.

Now, you "massage" the kale which starts to break it down making it more tender and almost like you steamed it.  Pour the lemon juice over the kale and with freshly cleaned hands, plunge your hands into the kale and rub the lemon and kale together, a vegetable massage if you will.  After you do that for a bit, sprinkle a generous amount of salt across the kale and massage that through.  Lastly, drizzle a generous portion of olive oil across the kale and massage that through the kale very thoroughly.  Your kale should have drastically shrunk in size by now.  Toss the carrots and toasted pine nuts in with the kale and serve.

White Bean and Roasted Mushroom Soup
Makes about 8 servings.
I was looking for a bean and mushroom soup and this perfectly fit the bill!  This soup is really wonderful.  I made a smaller quantity by using 1 onion, 1 pint mushrooms, 2 cans of beans and 4 cups of vegetable broth.

Pasted below.  From: http://shewearsmanyhats.com/2011/10/roasted-mushroom-soup/

A satisfying soup, that uses a healthy pureed white bean and broth base instead of cream, so it can be enjoyed often, guilt-free.

16 oz. mushrooms, halved or quartered
2 large sweet onions, quartered
3 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ teaspoon salt, divided
1½ teaspoon pepper, divided
8-10 fresh sage leaves*
8-10 stems + 1 tablespoon leaves fresh thyme*, divided
48 oz. chicken broth (vegetable broth can be substituted for a vegetarian version)
3 – 15 oz. cans white beans, not drained (I prefer cannellini beans)
Additional salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 450°F. 

Toss mushrooms, garlic and onion in olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. (You may want to keep mushrooms separate on baking sheet for roasting, because you’ll have to separate later. So, separate now, or later.) Spread on baking sheet. Add sage leaves and stems of thyme. Roast in 450° F oven for 10 minutes, toss and roast for additional 15 minutes. 

While vegetables are roasting, add broth, beans, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves to a large stock pot over medium heat and simmer.
When vegetables are done roasting, let cool slightly. Separate mushrooms from other roasted vegetables (if not already separated).
Retrieve 2 cups of the white beans, and 1 cup of broth from the stock pot, add to a blender along with the roasted onions, garlic and herbs. Cover and blend until smooth.
Add pureed bean mixture back to stock pot, whisking in until smooth. Add roasted mushrooms to soup. Salt and pepper to taste.
Warm over low heat until ready to serve.

*Dried herbs may be substituted for fresh. The rule of thumb is one part dried, to three parts fresh.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Eating Your Fruits and Vegetables

Easy, very nutritious, super-creamy and delicious soup.  This soup is dairy free, full of healthy fats and protein, high in fiber and full of vegetables.  But most importantly this soup is very, very tasty.  After the soup recipes is a delicious juice/smoothie recipe that makes a great healthy dessert or snack.

Creamy Skillet Soup
Makes two large servings.  A great, hearty, tasty lunch or dinner.  Serve with a simple greens salad and your favorite bread.  The kale turns the soup bright green.

1/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup unsweetened boxed coconut milk (I used So Delicious)
Generous amount of Tabasco sauce
About 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or a slice of lemon if using Vitamix, peel and seeds removed)

About 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1/3 of a bell pepper, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped
About 1/2 pint mushrooms, roughly chopped
Pinch of salt
Fresh pepper

10-15 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
About 5 pieces of kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
About 1/2 can of great northern beans
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
1/2 vegetable bouillon cube

Soup base, Vitamix:
Put the first four ingredients into the Vitamix, then proceed making the rest of the recipe.

Soup base, stick/immersion or regular blender:
Chop/crush the cashews and allow to soak in the milk for at least four hours in the refrigerator so that the cashews become soft enough to fully blend.  Once soft, add the lemon juice and Tabasco sauce and set aside.  If you don't have the time for this step, add 1-2 tablespoons of tahini to the milk.

Saute the onion, carrots and bell pepper in a deep pan until they start to soften.  Add the garlic, mushrooms, salt and pepper, saute a few minutes more until the onions are browning and the mushrooms are soft.  Add the next five ingredients, raise the heat to bring the mixture to a boil, deglaze the pain, press the bouillon cube into the water to help it quickly dissolve, lower the heat and cook just enough to wilt the kale.  Then take the pan off the heat.

Add the pan ingredients into the Vitamix and blend for a few minutes until creamy and piping hot.

If using a convention blender, blend in batches with the soup base, combine it all back into a soup pot on the stove and heat through.

For a stick/immersion blender, combine the soup base and the pan ingredients into a large deep stock pot, blend and heat through.

Once blended, taste the soup and add additional salt, pepper or hot sauce as needed.

This soup is also delicious made with additional or different vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, spinach, chard, cabbage, sweet or regular potatoes.  The beans can be omitted for a lighter soup.  Plain greek or regular yogurt is a great addition.  Plain, unsweetened almond, soy or cows milk can be used instead of the coconut milk.  Full fat canned coconut milk/cream can be used or added.  The quantities of the vegetables need not be precise.  The trick to the deliciousness is the soup base, using a variety of vegetables and keeping the cooking time short so the flavors are fresh.

Citrus Blast Juice Drink
Three servings.  Refreshing, sweet, tangy, complex and delicious.

1/2 grapefruit, peel and seeds removed
2 small nave1 oranges, peeled and halved
About 1 cup of pineapple chunks
1 small apple, cored and in chunks
1 slice ginger
1/2-1 cup water

Blend together until frothy and serve immediately.  If using a conventional blender, cut the fruit into smaller pieces.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Easy Healthy Breakfasts All Week Long

Steel cut oats are better than rolled oats for the following reason:
1)  They taste better
2)  They have a better texture and consistency
3)  You can save the leftovers to eat later, and they don't turn into concrete.

The issue with them is that they take a lot longer to cook.  One of my favorite cooking blogs is thekitchn.com and it has the solution to this: prepare the oats in advance and then eat them all week.  The recipe is below but you should read the full post.  I do this often Sunday night and then have easy breakfasts all week by warming up just the portion I want each morning. I usually mix in frozen or fresh berries, bananas or raisins with some flax seeds before microwaving then top with almond milk and maple syrup before eating.

How To Cook Steel-Cut Oats for Breakfast the Night Before
From www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-steelcut-oats-for-134185

1 teaspoon butter or olive oil
1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups water
3-fingered pinch salt
1 cup milk (optional)

2-quart saucepan

1. Start this the night before you want to have steel-cut oatmeal. Measure out your oats. This quantity will make about 4 servings.

2. Heat about 1 teaspoon butter or olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Add the oats and fry them for about 3 minutes, or until they start smelling toasty.

3. Pour in the water and add the salt. Stir.

4. Bring to a rolling boil.

5. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Leave it on the stove, and go to bed!

6. The next morning, uncover the pan and bring the oatmeal back up to a simmer. If you would like thinner and creamier oatmeal, stir in a cup of milk before reheating.

When the oatmeal is warm, scoop out and enjoy!

Additional Notes:
• Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
• Re-heat leftovers in just the same way: warm up on the stove, or in a bowl in the microwave.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Goods, Canned

Tired and hungry adults combined with a nearly-empty refrigerator and a sick baby meant dinner needed to be simple and easy tonight.  Over the years I've been testing various recipe and methods to get a decent pot of easy veggie chili out of the ingredients I almost always on have (read: canned goods).  There are some amazing chili recipes online that are much more involved -- click here for an amazing and quite involved recipe-- but what we're talking here is convenience that tastes good.

Chili A La Mode
(Greek yogurt is in fashion chez moi)
There's a lot of flexibility in this recipe but the two most important keys are:

1)  Be generous with the onion, garlic and dried spices, and
2)  Let the pot simmer as long as possible (no less than 45 minutes).

Really Easy Vegetarian Chili
About four servings.

About 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
About 1 tablespoon cumin powder
About 1 tablespoon coriander powder
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
About 1 teaspoon salt
Lots of fresh pepper
1/2 cup of salsa
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can pinto (or other) beans, drained
1 can black (or other) beans, drained
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup quinoa (optional)

Saute the onions in the olive oil until they begin to soften, then add the garlic and saute a few minutes more.  Add all the spices, stir and saute a minute or two more.  Then add all of the other ingredients and stir to combine well.  Turn the heat to high and once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer, partially covered.

The minimum it should simmer is 15 minutes-- that's how long the quinoa needs to cook.  But for the best taste, you should let it simmer for at least a half hour and ideally 45 minutes to an hour.  Just be sure to stir the pot regularly and if it starts to get dry at all, add some vegetable stock or water.

Serve by itself or with any or all of the accoutrements:
Greek yogurt
avocado slices
fresh cilantro
hot sauce
lime wedges

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Any Given Wednesday

Morning started off with a blast of goodness: a long weekday run and an awesome smoothie.  I'm calling it the Citrus Blast Smoothie.  And if what they say is true-- that vitamin C prevents colds-- then I'll be immune for the rest of Q1.

Dinner was a giant success today. If you want to try farro or are looking for a good farro 1 pot meal, this is the recipe for you.  The unbiased critics in my house gave it very high marks.  And unlike yesterday's farro dish, this one is good-lookin'. It would be a great pot luck dish.

Breakfast: Citrus Blast Smoothie (and a frozen waffle-- blueberry Kashi)
Two servings.  This tastes like a delicious citrus melange, not at all like leafy greens.  Spinach and flax seeds are in for their purported health benefits.

2 kiwis, peeled and halved
4 naval oranges, peeled and halved
1 cup pineapple chunks
Large handful spinach
Flax seeds

Blend it all up and serve immediately.  A standard blender should do just fine with these ingredients, just chop the fruit up into smaller pieces if you're not using a Vitamix.

Dinner: Farro with Roasted Vegetables and Panache
The panache is the roasted pine nuts and simple dressing-- don't omit either because they make this extra delicious.   A life without panache is full of ennui! I'd recommend a simple side salad for a nice meal with lots of texture variation. This would also make a fantastic side dish.

This makes about 4 main dish servings.  

1 cup of farro*, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes
2 parsnips, peeled and diced**
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large stalk of broccoli, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 can chick peas
1/2 cup or so tomatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
coarse salt & fresh pepper

The longer you soak the farro, the shorter the cooking time.  Drain off the soaking water, and place in a pot, cover the farro generously with water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for about 35 minutes, less if you soaked it longer than I did.

Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.  While the faro is soaking, chop all the vegetables. Try to get them uniform in size and not much larger than the chick peas.  Drain and rinse the chick peas.

Put the vegetables (except the tomatoes), garlic and chick peas into a roasting pan large enough to hold everything in more or less 1 layer.  Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt.  Mix thoroughly and shake the pan so the vegetables aren't stacked on top of each other.  Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes and while the farro is cooking.  Every ten minutes or so, stir.  Halfway through the bake time, stir in the chopped tomatoes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, vinegar, a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of the pepper mill.  Once the vegetables have reached your desired done-ness remove from the oven.  Spread the pine nuts onto a small baking sheet and put into the warm oven for a few minutes while you assemble the dish.  They won't take long; once they are starting to turn brown and become aromatic, remove them immediately.  Test the farro for done-ness (should still be firm, don't let it get mushy) and combine the vegetables, farro, pine nuts and dressing in a large bowl.  Serve warm.

*Couscous, quinoa, or a small pasta like orzo would also work well.
**Use 2 carrots if you have no parsnips on hand.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Farro First Timer

So you could say I've been into the quinoa foodie fad-- one plank of the "ancient grain" craze.  Quinoa is delicious, nutritious, and versatile  what can I say.  I'm troubled by all the articles talking about how demand for this seed (it's not a grain actually) by rich Americans has caused the price to rise, making this Bolivian staple out of reach now for regular Bolivians.  The politics of food is a complicated thing.  I'll leave it to actual experts to write about that.

But anyways, to Farro, the "original" grain.  Apparently American foodies have recently discovered it and Italians have rediscovered it and it's now appearing on menus (and blogs and all over the inter-web) like crazy.  So earlier this winter I bought a bag of it and then forgot about it until this weekend, when I was unloading groceries and noticed it in the cupboard... so I moved the bag to the counter where it sat until tonight.

So, this grain is delicious.  It's wheaty tasting, slightly nutty with an awesome chewy texture.  I was eating it plain out of the pot.  It would be great warm with just some butter or olive oil and salt.  But I wanted to turn it into a one pot meal for myself, with leftovers for lunches.  Here's my creation that turned out quite good but warning: this dish is NOT pretty.

Creamy Greens Farro
Makes about three main dish servings.

1 cup of farro

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
2 large cloves of garlic
1 stalk of broccoli, chopped
1 can of great northern beans
Handful of spinach
About a half cup of tomatoes (I used a handful of grape tomatoes)
Salt & fresh pepper
Vegetable stock or water
Soy sauce
Lemon juice

This is really easy to make-- the only trick is you first need to soak the farro.  Cover it with cold water and soak for 20-30 minutes.  Then drain, cover again with water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.  You can cook it longer if you like it softer, but I found this amount of cooking perfect.

While the farro is cooking, saute the onions in the olive oil.  Once they begin to soften add the garlic and broccoli and saute for several minutes.  Once the onions are browning and the broccoli is bright green add the beans, spinach and tomatoes, a generous portion of pepper and some salt, and enough vegetable stock to deglaze the pan (about a 1/2 cup).  Turn the heat up, stir the mixture so that the spinach wilts and everything is heated through.  Then turn the heat off and put the contents of the pan into the blender or food processor.  Add a splash of soy sauce and lemon juice and blend until creamy.  Taste for seasonings and add any additional salt or pepper.

Combine the cooked farro and creamy greens together in a bowl.  Serve this stew-like dish in small bowls.  This is filling as it is very high fiber and high protein.  Perfect for a winter night.

First Post: Sunday in the Kitchen

Cooking is one of my favorite extracurricular activities.  It's a very concrete, tangible activity, and makes for a healthy, happy life.  Cooking has become my creative outlet in my adulthood and I enjoy cooking for friends and family, it's an enjoyable gift to give.  It's fun to search the internet for inspiration, recipes, and ideas.  Often I'm searching for spice and flavor combinations, ideas on using the last two ingredients in the cupboard, and inspiration when I'm lacking motivation to cook.

Some of my friends and family think that cooking healthy and vegetarian is an impossible, burdensome task that is out of reach, or they just don't comprehend how one could survive on vegetables alone.  That, combined with my gratitude for all the blog and online cooking magazine recipes I've read through the years, I thought-- if everyone is doing it then why can't I?  And then, I got a Vitamix blender for Christmas, which has brought me to a new level in the kitchen--  there's nothing like a fancy power tool to supercharge your creativity. So on a dark, cold night in February, I'm going to give it a stab!

Last Sunday was my moment of inspiration for the blog.  I made a lot of different food based solely on my creativity and what we had in the kitchen and everything was really successful-- and my family (including 15 month old foster baby) agreed and showed it by drinking/eating like crazy, which is always the best reward.  So I thought I'd start by sharing my meals and recipes from yesterday.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with Strawberries
Two adult servings plus one for a little person.

1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups of unsweetened almond milk
1 cup water
Flax seeds
Lots of fresh strawberries, diced
Maple syrup, honey or brown sugar

Combine the oats, water and milk, bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer for about 15 minutes, add strawberries and flax and cook for 5-10 minutes more.  Stir in sweetener to taste and serve.  

Orange, Apple, Ginger Juice
Two servings

5 naval oranges, peeled & halved
1 small apple, cored & in chunks
Slice of ginger
1 cup water

Blend in Vitamix.  Serve immediately.

Smoothie Snack: Kale & Fruit
Two servings.  This tastes really good.  The baby drank hers up in one giant, prolonged suck.  

1 cup fresh strawberries, stems pulled off
1/2 frozen or fresh banana
2 large kale leaves, stems removed
1 kiwi, peeled & in chunks
1 orange, peeled & halved
1/2-1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (such as So Delicious)
Flax seeds

Blend in Vitamix.  Serve immediately.

Lunch: Easy Speedy Vitamix Soup For One
This was my super-fast lunch for myself.  Normally I saute and cook my soups before blending but when you're rushed it's possible to make a tasty soup from raw ingredients right in the Vitamix.

A few slices of onion
1 clove of garlic, skin removed
Large handful of cleaned spinach
2 carrots, peeled & in chunks
1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk (such as So Delicious)
Small handful raw cashews
A few drops of Tabasco
Salt & pepper to taste

Blend in Vitamix for several minutes until steaming hot.  Serve immediately.  

Dinner: Quinoa Pinto Bean Vegetable Casserole
Makes 6-7 large portions.  Made this for family dinner with a simple side salad and then had enough leftovers for 4 lunches!  This dish is hearty, filling, tasty and full of protein and fiber.  You can make it as spicy as you like.  I imagine sour cream, salsa, avocado and/or guacamole would make good toppings, but we just had it as-is and we loved it.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
Vegetable bouillon cube

Large head of broccoli, chopped into small pieces & microwaved for 2 mins

1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large portobello mushroom, diced, or similar portion of small mushrooms
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup salsa
Hot sauce (I used Tabasco)

1 egg, beaten
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare quinoa: put all ingredients into pot, bring to boil, lower heat to a slow simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes.  Once the quinoa is done, pour into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, microwave (or steam) broccoli so that it still has a crunch but has begun to cook.  Saute the onion in a little olive oil.  Add garlic and mushrooms once onions have begun to brown.  Add salt, pepper and cumin.  Saute until mushrooms soften.  Add beans, cooked broccoli,  tomatoes, and salsa.  Stir and bring mixture to boil.  Lower heat and let simmer for a few minutes.  Add hot sauce to taste.  

Pour the bean and vegetable saute into the bowl with the quinoa.  Add the egg and stir the mixture well so that everything is incorporated.  Spread evenly into an 8 by 8 or 9 by 9 baking pan.  Sprinkle the cheese across the top.  Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the cheese just barely is starting to brown.  Let the pan cool for a few minutes before scooping out the servings.

Easy Coconut (Vegan) Ice Cream 
This and the quinoa-- both totally made up by me-- were my final two dishes that convinced me I was ready to start the blog.  The rum and three kinds of sweetener give this ice cream a nutty, complex flavor.  The rum and cornstarch give the ice cream a nice consistency and ensures that it freezes correctly.  

1 can of coconut milk (full fat version!)
About 1 cup boxed unsweetened coconut milk (such as So Delicious)
1 date, pitted & chopped
About 3 tablespoons maple syrup
About 2 tablespoons sugar
Small handful of ice cubes
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 teaspoons dark rum (other kinds of booze work too)
Large handful unsweetened coconut flakes

Put all the ingredients except for the coconut flakes into the blender and blend at high speed until smooth.  Taste the liquid-- add additional sweetener (syrup and/or sugar) if needed.  (Remember that when it freezes it will taste less sweet.)  Blend again for a few seconds.  Add in the coconut flakes and blend BRIEFLY at medium speed-- this will chop these into fine, small bits that add nice bites to your ice cream.

Pour this very cold mixture immediately the ice cream maker and follow the instructions.

I didn't sweeten mine a lot and then used a little bit of maple syrup as a topping, which was really fantastic.