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!