Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Vegetarian Caesar Salad Dressing

I've been getting in to making salad dressings at home lately.

I like the taste of Caesar dressings, but do not like the flavor of anchovies. I googled "Vegetarian Caesar Dressing" and got this recipe.

I am not vegan, so I decided to use real Parmesan cheese. I also think it would be better with a little more garlic, and I would do things in a different order to ensure they blend well.

Here's my interpretation.

Reese's Vegetarian Caesar Dressing
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup water (or a little less if you like it creamy)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 6 tbs lemon juice (a little over 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste (I like it a little saltier)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place the garlic cloves in a food-processor or mini food-processor and pulse until diced fine.

Add water, oil and lemon juice, and pulse again until emulsified. Add cashews, cheese, salt and pepper, pulse or blend until well combined and creamy.

Vegetarian Meatballs #2

This is another recipe from my Great-Aunt Heather's cookbook, "Vital Vittles".

My VERY carnivorous husband LOVES these pretty much any way I prepare them, baked with brown gravy, mushroom gravy, or marinara.

I did not have whole wheat bread crumbs or regular soy sauce, so I substituted Panko bread crumbs and Tamari low-sodium soy sauce in their place.

Heather Leno's No-Meatballs

Combine in a blender:

  • 1 pkg Mori-Nu firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cup onion (I chopped it in big chunks)
  • 2 tbs Tamari Low-Sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
Whiz until smooth, transfer to medium mixing bowl.

Add the following ingredients to bowl:
  • 1 cup ground walnuts (I ground them in my mini food-processor, sometimes I use a combination of walnuts and pecans)
  • 1 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs ground flaxseed
  • 2 tbs parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp basil
Mix well, scoop onto prepared cookie sheet (I use a large cookie sheet with parchment paper lined - SO EASY for cleanup!) with a small scoop.

Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes until brown and firming to the touch.

At this point you can either freeze them for later use or bake them in a baking dish covered with a gravy of your choice, sweet & sour sauce, or spaghetti sauce.

I baked 16 of them in a 9x9 baking dish with mushroom gravy at 350F for about 35-40 minutes and the rest in Scott's home-made marinara sauce for the same amount of time in a separate dish.

*Cooking note: I baked mine longer than the original recipe instructed, as the first time making them gave me meatballs that started to fall apart. I increased the baking time of the meatballs themselves and also increased the baking time with sauce.

Mushroom Gravy #2

Tonight I made some vegetarian meatballs, and I decided to bake them with a nice mushroom gravy. Since I am out of wine, I couldn't make Walt's Mushroom & Wine Gravy.

I decided to wing a mushroom gravy and base it on the mushroom & wine recipe, but doing things in a little bit different order.

Reese's Mushroom Gravy
  • 1 to 2 tbs olive oil (amount depends on how stick or non-stick your pan is)
  • 2 to 3 cups sliced mushrooms
Saute mushrooms in oil until limp, keep covered to retain the juices until almost done, then it is ok to remove the lid and let a little evaporate.

While mushrooms are sauteing, heat the following in a small/medium saucepan on medium/low:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter or margarine (I use Smart Balance Buttery Sticks with Olive Oil)
When oil and butter is melted, add:
  • 1/2 cup flour
Stir to create a pasty dough, keep stirring and watch heat so it doesn't burn, but let it brown a little bit.

In a microwavable cup, heat

Stir to dissolve, then add to flour mixture and stir to combine, breaking up any lumps with a whisk or wooden spoon.

Add sauteed mushrooms and their liquid to flour/butter/bouillon mixture, add

Stir to dissolve. If you want a thicker gravy you can bring to a low simmer to reduce a bit.

This recipe made about 3 cups of gravy. I like my gravy pretty salty, if it seems too salty to you, lessen the amount of Marmite.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Broccoli Soup

You may have noticed by now that one of the cooks in this house is a Vegetarian, and other one is most definitely NOT. 

Many people in my extended family are not only Vegetarian, but Vegan. This gives me many resources for ideas when I am trying to come up with something new to eat.

The impressive thing about many of these recipes is that the Non-Vegetarian in the house often enjoys them VERY much. (From time to time he will prepare some meat if he feels he needs more protein, but many times he is happy with the meal as served.)

Dinner tonight was a soup from a recipe book written by my great-aunt, Heather Leno

I didn't have any marjoram or fresh celery, so I substituted dried oregano and about 2 teaspoons of celery salt.  I also added some freshly ground black pepper towards the end.

Following is the version I made tonight.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

In a saucepan on medium heat, add the following ingredients. 

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 2 stalks fresh broccoli, cut into chunks (approximately 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 a medium onion, cut into chunks
Cook covered while preparing the next set of ingredients. (You are basically steaming the vegetables. Do not overcook.)

Combine the following ingredients in a blender:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp dried dill
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
Whiz until smooth and creamy.  Add the cooked vegetables and blend until smooth. (Vegetables are hot, you may need to vent the lid a little to ensure that it does not pop off in older style blenders.)  I added the veggies in two parts so the blender would not be too full to blend.

Add another 1/2 to 1 cup of hot water, a few grinds of pepper, and another tsp of celery salt. Blend again to combine, and serve. (Return to pot to re-heat if it has cooled to much in the blending process)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Browned Butter Frosting

I am enjoying some home-made gingerbread cookies with a browned-butter frosting that is DELICIOUS.  

Borrowed from

Browned Butter Frosting
1/4 c. butter
1-1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. Milk

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it turns golden. Watch carefully as this will happen quickly. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and enough milk to make a spreading consistency.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 - The Eating

We both managed to burn ourselves right before dinner, I grabbed the stainless steel lid to a pot that had apparently been in the oven, then dropped it on the floor as soon as the message went from my hand to my brain. Scott then picked up the same lid from the floor and burned HIS hand.

Fortunately the burn didn't affect the delicious flavor of the food.

We are all in various states of recuperation. I admit that I am not helping put things away, I wouldn't be able to do much one-handed anyway.

Our dinner table, made by my brother-in-law and set by my sister-in-law.

The Williams Sonoma Pear Cranberry Chutney

Traditional Green Bean Casserole

Quadruple Bypass Mashed Potatoes

Grandma Virginia's Sweet Potatoes



Mixed Greens Salad with Candied Walnuts, Pear and Herbed Goat Cheese

There is still Apple Pie and Pumpkin Cheesecake to come...

Thanksgiving 2011 - Prep

We are enjoying this holiday week at Scott's sister and brother-in-law's home in Virginia.

The traditional meal has been a co-op between Scott, his Mom, his Sister and myself.

The Menu:

Turkey - Scott and his sister are team-cooking this, the turkey sat in a brine made of low-sodium soy sauce, salt, brown sugar and red wine for two days. They are putting 1/2 lemon, onion, sage, rosemary and butter in the cavity, and a few sprigs of rosemary here and there under the skin. They are rubbing a sage-butter on the outside.

Jeremiah's Vegetable Gravy - Turkey drippings with a little flour to create a roux, then the veggies (carrots, celery & onion) that were roasted in the pan alongside the turkey get "mashed in."

Stuffing - two loaves of white bread, cubed and left in a bowl to dry out a bit the day before. Vegetable broth, onion, celery, sage, butter and a few other things.

Grandma Virginia's Sweet Potatoes - peeled and cut into chunks, baked at 350F with orange zest, brown sugar and a few other secret items.

Pumpkin Cheesecake - I still couldn't find my recipe, and apparently the one I used last year I never wrote down my modifications, so I adapted another existing recipe.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

At one time I faithfully used a friend's Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe. I haven't been able to find that version for several years now, and generally end up adapting something I find online, instead.

This year when I discovered that I still couldn't find the old one, I thought "no problem, I'm sure I made notes from last year." WRONG.

I've learned my lesson (only took me 3 years) and am writing down what I'm making this year so I can repeat it!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 premade crusts (I used graham-cracker today, but it would be tasty with chocolate or ginger-snap, too!)


  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/16 tsp ground ginger

  • In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugars until smooth. 
  • Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. 
  • Whisk in pumpkin, cornstarch, vanilla and spices just until blended. 
  • Pour into crust. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until center is almost set. 
  • Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. 
  • Refrigerate overnight. 

Quadruple Bypass Mashed Potatoes

I've never posted this recipe in it's own entry, only in context with other Thanksgiving posts. I figured it was time to give it the honor it deserves!

These potatoes are not particularly healthy. You'll notice that shortly. You can, however, use lower-fat versions of the fattening ingredients to not feel quite so guilty about things.

These are amazing on their own, AND with a delicious gravy (like Walt's Mushroom & Wine Gravy)

Quadruple-Bypass Mashed Potatoes
(so named because there are four heart-stopping additions to the potatoes - butter, goat cheese, cream cheese and sour cream)

I based my quantities on enough for 8 people - calculated at one and a half potatoes per person.


  • 12 Idaho baking potatoes 
  • 11oz log of goat cheese 
  • 6oz sour cream 
  • 8oz butter 
  • 1 pkg cream cheese (I used neufchatel) 
  • Salt to taste 

  • Set butter, cream cheese and goat cheese out to soften. 
  • Rinse and peel potatoes, dice into 1.5 inch cubes and place in large cook-pot.  
  • Add just enough water to cover and boil on med-high until potatoes are soft when poked with a fork. 
  • Drain potatoes in a strainer and transfer to VERY large mixing bowl. 
  • Add softened butter, goat cheese and neufchatel or cream cheese. 
  • Mix with hand mixer just until blended. 
  • Add sour cream and mix again just until combined. 
  • Salt to taste.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reese's Sweet Potato, Green Chile & Black Bean Enchiladas

While I was in Phoenix almost a month ago, I had the pleasure of dining at a fabulous restaurant with my cousin Mandi (and not just because she picked up the tab!).
One of the things we enjoyed was a sweet potato enchilada with a tomatillo sauce. It really was amazing.
I decided to see what I could come up with that would be similar, yet different.

They are REALLY good.

Reese's Sweet Potato, Green Chile and Black Bean Enchiladas


  • 1 29oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup Homeward Bound Hot Sauce SparkPlug
  • 1/2 cup Homeward Bound Hot Sauce PattyCake
  • 1 tbs cumin

Filling (see Assembly instructions before continuing)

  • 3 sm/md sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into approximately 1" cubes. 
  • 14oz (2 7oz cans) diced green chiles
  • 1 - 15oz can black beans, drained
  • 3 cups shredded cheese (I used a "Mexican 4-Cheese" blend)
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 24 corn tortillas (the Mission brand are a great consistency)

  • Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add sweet potatoes.
  • Cook on a high boil for about 12-13 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.
  • While potatoes are cooking, Combine sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl
  • Remove potatoes from heat, drain and rinse with cold water, let cool for about 5 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Combine filling ingredients in a medium bowl, add sweet potatoes and cut potatoes into approximately 1/4 inch chunks as you combine them with the rest of the filling ingredients.
  • In a microwavable container with a lid, microwave about 10 tortillas at a time with a few drops of water for 45 seconds. They will be HOT - do not burn your fingers!
  • Pour about 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish (9x12).
  • Spoon a heaping soup spoon of filling into warmed tortilla, wrap and place in baking dish with folded side down to help keep it wrapped up.
  • Fill baking dish with enchiladas, pour another 1/2 cup to cup of sauce over the top and sprinkle about 1 cup shredded cheese over the whole dish.

  • Bake at 350F until cheese is bubbly (about 30 minutes)

This made two 9x12 dish and two small dishes of enchiladas.

Reese's Sour Cream & Green Chile Enchiladas

This is a very old recipe. Okay, I guess the term "old" is pretty relative... I came up with it when I first started cooking for myself. I think I was probably 19... so this recipe is legally old enough to get it's driver's license.

I was looking for the actual recipe today and can't seem to find it, so this will be mostly from memory (oooh scary!).

The "secret ingredient" is Taco Bell mild sauce - not from the grocery store, but actual sauce packets from the fast food restaurant. Now that we are sauce makers ourselves, I will probably try to replicate the flavor with other items, but this is an attempt at the original version of my recipe.

You will notice pretty quick that these are not particularly healthy. But boy are they tasty! :) I particularly enjoy them with some guacamole on top, but that's true of most things.

Reese's Sour Cream & Green Chile Enchiladas

  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 30-40 packets of Taco Bell Mild Sauce
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 8oz (1 bottle) Ortega green taco sauce
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 7oz cans diced green chilis
  • 1 16oz container sour cream (as high or low-fat as you like)
  • Approx 1lb shredded cheese (I usually use a blend of cheddar and jack, or a "Mexican" blend)
  • Remaining 1/2 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1/2 onion, diced (optional)
  • 1 can sliced black olives (optional)
  • 24 Corn tortillas (try to pick a brand that is pliable)
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Combine sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl
  • Combine filling ingredients in a medium bowl
  • In a microwavable container with a lid, microwave about 10 tortillas at a time with a few drops of water for 45 seconds. They will be HOT - do not burn your fingers!
  • Pour about 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish (9x12).
  • Spoon a heaping soup spoon of filling into warmed tortilla, wrap and place in baking dish with folded side down to help keep it wrapped up.
  • Fill baking dish with enchiladas, pour another 1/2 cup to cup of sauce over the top and sprinkle about 1 cup of filling over the whole dish.
  • Bake at 350F until cheese is bubbly (about 30 minutes)
This recipe was usually eyeballed, and would usually NOT come out even in terms of sauce to filling to tortillas. But it would freeze nicely and I would use the filling for something else sometime (makes a lovely quesadilla).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Leftover Roasted Veggie Soup

I make the Cumin Roasted Carrots and Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic recipes somewhat frequently, periodically we end up with leftovers.

I currently have leftovers of both (just a little bit) and decided to experiment with a soup. There is no salt added to this recipe because both of the roasted veggie recipes have salt.

This made two large mugs worth of soup. Also very good with a little Homeward Bound Hot Sauce added! (any flavor would be good - specifically PunJab or SparkPlug)

Leftover Roasted Veggie Soup

1 tbs olive oil
1/2 white onion, minced
1 stick celery, minced

2 cups water
1 pkg George Washington Broth

1 cup (approx) Cumin Roasted Carrots
1/2 cup (approx) Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic

  • In a medium saucepan over low/medium heat, saute onion and celery salt in olive oil.
  • In a small microwave-safe cup or bowl, heat 2 cups of water.
  • Add broth package contents to heated water and stir to dissolve.
  • Once onion starts to soften, add broth and bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  • Put leftover roasted veggies into a blender or food processor and add broth and onion mixture. 
  • Blend until creamy, add Homeward Bound Hot Sauce of your choice
  • Serve.

Easy Granola

We've been eating a lot of granola around here this summer. The main thing I've discovered besides that it is very filling, is that it is very EXPENSIVE to purchase already made. 

I remember my Grandma making granola in her kitchen when I was a little kid, and the smell that filled the house always made me hungry.

Since I've been tackling other things lately, I decided that if Grandma could do it, I surely can, too! I did a google search for low-sugar granola recipes, and while I'm not convinced that the original recipe I based my version on is very low in sugar at all, I've made some adjustments that should cut down significantly on the sugar but not sacrifice any flavor.

I intend to use UN-sweetened coconut next time, but sweetened is what I had on hand.

Reese's Nutty Granola

2 cups Bob's Red Mill rolled oats 
3/4 cup whole unsalted almonds, roughly chopped (approximately into half)
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup raw cashews, roughly chopped 
1 tbs ground flax seed
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Smart Balance Buttery Stick
2 tbs honey
1 tbs vanilla

1 1/2 cup dates, pitted and cut into approximately 1/4 inch pieces

  • Preheat oven to 300F
  • Combine oats, nuts, coconut, flax seed and spices in a medium mixing bowl.
  • In a small microwavable bowl or cup, melt butter and honey together (about 25 seconds at a time, stirring well in between)
  • Add vanilla to butter/honey mixture
  • Pour butter/honey/vanilla mixture over oat/nut mixture and toss well to combine.
  • Spread mixture on baking sheet.
  • Bake 20 minutes, stirring about every five minutes.
  • Add dates, stir and break up large clumps
  • Bake an additional 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes.
  • Cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reese's Butternut Squash Soup

We have had a butternut squash hanging out in the kitchen for awhile. I was worried it would go bad soon, and we're low on groceries, so it's time to make amazing things out of what's left!

I also discovered a neat trick for getting the squash out of it's shell in the process.

To give credit where it is due, I started with this recipe, and following is my version, adapted since I am a vegetarian, and I didn't have any ginger.

Reese's Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash
olive oil (I use an olive oil sprayer)
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
4 tbs Smart Balance Buttery Sticks w/ EVOO
3 cups water
1 1/2 cubes Not Chik'n boullion 
2 cups water
1 tbs Homeward Bound Hot Sauce SparkPlug
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Light Sour Cream for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 450F
  • Cut squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  • Spray bottom of large baking dish with olive oil, lay squash cut side down
  • Roast for 10 minutes at 450, reduce heat to 350 and continue to roast for another 30 minutes.
  • While squash is roasting, melt butter in a medium saucepan and add onion, saute over low/medium heat until slightly soft.
  • Add 3 cups water and Not Chik'n boullion cubes. Stir to dissolve cubes, raise heat to medium and simmer, covered for about 10 minutes and reduce heat to low.
  • When squash is done baking, remove baking dish from oven and cool for a few minutes, until you can touch the skin of the squash without it burning you. You SHOULD be able to pinch the skin and pull it away from the squash in one piece. Cut pulp into chunks to cool faster.
  • Allow squash chunks to cool about 10 minutes (should be around the time the broth & onion is simmering).
  • Add slightly cooled squash pulp to onion & broth mixture, stirring to break down squash further.
  • Transfer mixture to blender or food processor, and puree until smooth (I was able to get all of it into our Ninja blender).
  • Add remaining 2 cups water, SparkPlug, about 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper (you may need to add more and blend again depending on taste preference)
  • Blend to combine and pour into bowls to serve.
  • Add a dollop of sour cream.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Goat Mac - No Goat, No Mac

I bought some goat cheese the other day, and wanted to make something interesting and new (to me) with it.  I've also been craving baked macaroni and cheese.

As is usually the case, I don't have all the ingredients for something, so I get out what we DO have and go from there.

Here's what I came up with - a macaroni and cheese kind of thing, without any macaroni. 

Goat Mac
24oz Penne pasta (I used 1 & 1/2 16oz boxes)
4 tbs butter (we use Smart Balance with olive oil)
4 tbs flour
1/2 a head of garlic, peeled and minced fine
2 cups milk (I used skim)
11oz log of goat cheese (with or without herbs - mine was without this time)
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely diced
1 tbs butter, melted

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add noodles and cook as directed (about 11-12 minutes). Drain, rinse with cold water and transfer to large mixing bowl.
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • In a medium/large saucepan on low/med heat, melt the 4tbs of butter/margarine. 
  • Slowly whisk in the flour, one tbs at a time. 
  • Add minced garlic and continue to stir regularly.  
  • Add milk and raise to medium heat, stirring constantly.  
  • Gradually add goat cheese in 1/4 inch chunks, stirring and whisking to melt. 
  • Gradually add 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for topping).  
  • Gradually stir in freshly ground black pepper.
  • Pour cheese mixture over noodles and stir/toss gently to coat.
  • Pour noodle and cheese mixture into large baking dish (9"x11").
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine Panko, basil, and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  • Stir in 1 tbs melted butter.
  • Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over noodles.
  • Bake approximately 30 minutes, until bubbly and topping is lightly browned.
We served it tonight with the Cumin-roasted carrots.

Scott (of course) anointed his with some hot sauce. I recommend Homeward Bound's SparkPlug.

Caramelized Cumin-Roasted Carrots

This recipe was given to us by Reese's Mom, who got it from a Culinary workshop, and they claim to have gotten it from Bon Apetit magazine.

Here's what we use, and it's a GREAT way to get in some vitamin C and fiber!  We eat them with the Tahini-Yogurt dip.

Caramelized Cumin-Roasted Carrots

Yield: 6 servings

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
12 medium carrots, peeled, cut on diagonal into ½-inch thick pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.      Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a full-sized baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2.      Combine carrots and all remaining ingredients in a large bowl, and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Roast carrots until tender and lightly caramelized, turning carrots over once, 35 to 40 minutes.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cheater Ratatouille with Rice

Tonight I wanted to make something reasonably quick and healthy.

I enjoy Ratatouille very much and didn't have the time or all of the ingredients, so this is an approximation that came out VERY well.

Cheater Ratatouille and Brown Basmati Rice

1 cup brown Basmati rice (we get ours at Trader Joes)
2 cups water

1 tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg fresh button mushrooms, sliced
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 medium zucchini, sliced
4 small yellow squash, sliced
12 oz (half a jar) of Newman's Own "Sockarooni" style marinara sauce
1 tsp kosher salt or smoked sea salt, freshly ground
1 tsp paprika
1 tbs dried basil (I would have used fresh if I had it)
1/2 tbs dried oregano (same with the fresh)
a few twists of fresh black pepper

In a small saucepan, bring the 2 cups of water to a boil. Add rice, cover and simmer on low for about 20-25 minutes. Rice should be fluffy when fully cooked.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep frying/sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium/low heat. Add garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add mushrooms and balsamic vinegar. Once mushrooms are mostly cooked, add zucchini and squash, salt, pepper and spices. Saute until veggies are starting to be pretty limp. Add marinara sauce, stir and heat through.

Serve veggies/sauce over rice.

This made enough sauce/veggies for four people and enough rice for probably three.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Apple Cranberry Tart

I got the original recipe that inspired this experiment from my friend PJT, but I didn't have enough of everything it called for, so I winged it.

I used a recipe I found online for the dough, this recipe makes twice as much as you will need, I wrapped half in saran wrap and put it in the freezer.

I cooked the crust on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes on 400F.

While it was cooking, I prepared the apples:

3 Fuji Apples (according to the bag anyway, but I'm convinced they were pink ladies), cored and sliced thin.
1/3 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
4 tbs Smart Balance Butter Blend
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup brown sugar

Melt the butter in a microwave-safe container, add spices and sugar. Spoon about 1/2 to 3/4 over the crust and then toss the apples in the remainder.

Lay apple slices over crust, sprinkle dried cranberries on top. Bake at 350F for 45 to 50 minutes, until crust is browned and apples are slightly tender.

Let cool before serving.

Vegan Egg-Salad that Doesn't Suck

This is a recipe from my Mom, who I believe got it from my Grandma.

Mom and I both don't like egg-salad, but we both enjoy this in a sandwich - having some in the fridge is an easy way to have a quick snack while you're planning something else for dinner.

This IS a vegan recipe, but I'm not a vegan (at least not yet)... I just prefer some vegan things over the non-vegan versions. This recipe calls for Vegenaise, which is a vegan mayonnaise. It is MUCH better for you in terms of fat and cholesterol, and I actually prefer the taste!

(Ok, ok, this pic is of REAL egg-salad, but you get the idea)

Vegan Egg-Salad

1 package extra-firm tofu (I use Nasoya brand)
2 tbs Bill's Best Chik'Nish seasoning (I didn't have quite enough, so I added about 1/2 tbs of McKay's Chicken Seasoning)
1/2 to 1 cup Vegenaise

Optional Additions:
chopped onion, celery, pickles
(I used about 1/4 cup of dill pickle relish and a few twists of black pepper)

Press the excess water out of the tofu. The easiest way for me to do this is to place the brick of tofu (out of the package) between two salad plates and squeeze over the sink.

In a medium sized bowl, mash the pressed tofu with a fork until crumbled up into small pieces. Add chicken-style seasoning and mix well.

Add Vegenaise and stir, add enough to make the spread the consistency you want. Add any extras (onion, celery, pickle, pepper, etc.). Cover and refrigerate.

For a quick snack you can spread some Vegan Egg-Salad in a 1/2 of a pita. Mom likes to add a few grape tomatoes in the pita, too.

This recipe is also the start of my Grandma's Potato Salad, which I LOVE.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Greek Non-Meatballs

Today I found myself in a lack-of-groceries situation. I had planned to make a trip to the store, but circumstances found us at the vet this morning, and I gladly sacrificed my grocery money for our aging dog. (the dog is fine)

When it came time to make dinner I trolled through the fridge and pantry and decided to make some sort of vegetarian meatball.

I had all of these ingredients on hand and researched a few recipes online.

Greek-ish Non-Meatballs
makes 4 servings: 3 meatballs per serving
Olive oil
1 cup diced Portabella mushroom
½ white onion, diced
2 large cloves (or 2 tbs) minced garlic
1-2 tbs minced fresh basil & oregano (I just grabbed some sprigs)

1 cup whole oats
1/8 cup ground flax seed
½ cup raw cashews

1/8 cup brewers yeast
½ cup crumbled feta
¼-1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tsp kosher salt
a few twists of freshly ground black pepper

Heat a little olive oil in a medium saucepan and add onion, garlic & mushrooms. Sauté on medium heat until onions are clear and mushrooms are cooked through. Put pan back on heat and add a thin layer of olive oil.

Meanwhile combine oats, flax and cashews in a blender or food processor, pour into large mixing bowl.

At the end of sautéing, add basil & oregano, blend/process mushroom-onion-garlic mixture and add to mixing bowl.

Heat oven to 350 and spray a 9x9 baking dish with whatever you like to use (canola or olive-oil spray).

Add yeast, feta and Parmesan to bowl, mix well and form 2" balls with your hands. (This recipe made 12-13 meatballs).

Place balls into frying pan and fry for 2-3 minutes to a side, turning until most of outside is starting to brown. Place meatballs into baking dish and bake for 15-25 minutes, turn meatballs partway through for even cooking.

Nutrition Stuff: (Per Serving) 460 calories, 386 from fat. Daily Values: 66% fat, 7% cholesterol, 37% sodium, 4% carbohydrates, 10% fiber, 9.6g protein, 2% Vitamin A, 5% Vitamin C, 20% Calcium, 11% Iron.

We served them over Barilla Plus thin spaghetti and Scott's secret marinara sauce, with a fresh spinach salad. I dressed the salad with a drizzle of olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and a shake of Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lentil Curry and Carrot Feta Salad

I was at a loss for what to make for dinner tonight... we're trying so hard to eat more fiber in the form of fruits and veggies, and we've been making so much progress that I just couldn't bear to make a package of noodles.

I wanted to make the Garbanzo Curry that mom made for us, but we didn't have any garbanzo beans. We DID have a bag of Bob's Red Mill Veggie Soup mix which is mostly lentils, so I decided to adapt the recipe and use the soup mix in place of the garbanzos.

Here's how it came out:

Lentil Curry

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
2-3 tablespoons Homeward Bound Hot Sauce: PunJab
3/8 teaspoons ground cloves
3/8 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups water
2 cups Bob's Red Mill Veggie Soup Mix

Stir spices, hot sauce and garlic into oil, and allow them to heat through. Add water and bring to a simmer, add soup mix, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Stir in:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
Kosher salt to taste.

Heat through.

I made equal parts brown and Basmati rice today to serve with the curry.

We're eating a lot of carrots these days, and I decided to try and change it up a bit from the usual. I used this recipe as inspiration and went with what I had. I think it turned out deliciously!

Carrot & Feta Salad
5 large carrots, washed, peeled & shredded
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 finely minced cloves of garlic
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon Homeward Bound Hot Sauce: SparkPlug
1/2 teaspoon Splenda

3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
Crumbled feta cheese for serving

In a small sauté pan, cook the garlic, cumin, paprika, SparkPlug and Splenda in the oil until fragrant, about one to two minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Pour over the carrots and mix. Add the mint and mix. Leave to infuse for an hour and add the feta before eating.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Garbanzo Curry, Grilled Polenta & Sweet Potatoes with Tahini-Yogurt Dip

Mom has been here visiting us for just over a week, it has been wonderful to visit with her, but also wonderful to have her cook and share recipes with us!

Tonight we had a pepper-cleaning session and while the boys were outside working Mom was whipping up an amazing meal. I suggested that we grill some polenta that was hanging out in the fridge and she suggested we also grill a sweet potato.

Mom also transferred a thumb-drive full of recipes onto our computer, so we can share them with you (and more importantly make them again ourselves!)

Here is the Garbanzo Curry recipe. The original called for curry paste but Mom wanted to use PunJab instead.

African Chick-Pea (Garbanzo) Curry
From Elvera Blake

Makes 8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
2-3 tablespoons Homeward Bound Hot Sauce: PunJab
3/8 teaspoons cloves
3/8 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced

Stir spices, hot sauce and garlic into oil, and allow them to heat through.

Stir in:
3 15-oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (unless they are Trader Joe's brand, no need to rinse)

Mash some with a fork or potato masher—enough so that a sauce can form. Add enough water to cover - ½ cup to 2 cups.

Cook to reduce liquid and form sauce: about 10-20 minutes.

Stir in:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
¾ cup golden raisins
Kosher salt to taste.

Heat through.

We served this over rice, half brown and half basmati. (Mom says that Trader Joe's basmati brown rice is "AMAZING".)

Grilled Polenta and Sweet Potatoes

1 17oz log Marjon Polenta, Basil & Garlic flavor
1 large Sweet Potato
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1/3 inch rounds. Place in a microwave-safe bowl with a small amount of water in the bottom, cover tightly with plastic wrap to create steam. Microwave for two or three minutes at a time ONLY until fork-tender (total time will vary according to your microwave power).

While the sweet potatoes being microwaved, cut polenta into 1/3 to 1/2 inch rounds. Place onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.

Once sweet potatoes are fork-tender, place onto cookie sheet in a single layer and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.

Place polenta and sweet potato rounds onto a hot grill that has been brushed with additional olive oil (more high heat than medium). You can check the done-ness of the potatoes, but do not move the polenta until at LEAST three minutes, or they will stick to the grill and fall apart.

Once rounds have a nice char and grill marks, flip them over and brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and continue to cook until slightly charred and crispy on the edges.

We dipped both in the Tahini-Yogurt Dip.

Yogurt Tahini Sauce
Yield: 1 ½ cups

1 garlic clove
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and grated zest of 1 lemon

Pound the garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and tahini together in a mortar to make a mushy paste. Gradually stir in the yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest. (WE DIDN'T HAVE A MORTAR AND PESTLE, so she just minced the garlic very very finely and smashed it with the side of the knife)

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Deborah Madison
Copyright © 1997 Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

This meal was AMAZING, and all three boys were totally satisfied and happy with it (Mom and I were, too... but we knew we would be).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mediterranean Veggie Wraps

We've been having dinner with our neighbors at least once a week, and I decided that since Scott usually cooks when they come here, Saturday evening was my turn.

Coming back from New York on Friday I had a grilled vegetable sandwich from a vendor in the LaGuardia airport that was delicious, and gave me grilled vegetable cravings for the next 24 hours.

We had some tomato-basil tortilla wraps already, so I bought a bunch of veggies and we fired up the grill.

I made a fresh pesto from the basil plants in the backyard, steamed some asparagus, and grilled the rest of the veggies.

We put together the wraps by spreading pesto on the tortilla, then layering in asparagus, grilled squash, zucchini, portabello mushrooms and red pepper, sprinkled with feta.

You can find the various prep methods for the components below.

fresh basil leaves
several cloves fresh garlic
olive oil
kosher salt
pine nuts
parmesan cheese (shredded)

Start with the basil leaves, I used probably 8 cups and still have a TON of pesto leftover, but I really eye-balled the whole thing. Blend basil leaves with about 1 tbsp of olive oil to start with in a blender or food processor. Add garlic, a clove at a time and taste in between (I like it strong). Add equal parts pine nuts and parmesan cheese (about 1/3 of the amount of the basil) and pulse until pretty well broken down. You may need to use a spatula to scoop the paste from the sides back into the middle. Add olive oil if mixture seems too dry. Add kosher salt (and fresh pepper if you like) to taste.

Pesto will be strong and a little bit goes a long way!

Steamed Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus
about 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
kosher salt

Break the stalk-end off of the asparagus - they should break naturally when bent toward the end. Place in a small baking dish with balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. Toss to coat, cover with tin foil and let rest until you are ready to start the grill.

Once the grill is starting to heat, place the covered baking dish on the upper level of the grill. Check periodically and remove from heat once asparagus is tender. Stir periodically for even cooking.

Grilled Yellow Squash and Zucchini
2 yellow squash
2 zucchini
olive oil
kosher salt

Slice the very ends off of the squash and zucchini and discard. Slice on a diagonal to create long, ovular shaped slices. Layer into a deep baking dish and top each layer with a little drizzle of olive oil and a little sprinkle of salt. Cover with plastic wrap that will seal and turn upside-down a few times to coat well. Let rest until ready to grill.

We transferred the slices into a grill-basket with tongs to keep the veggies from falling in between the slats of the grill. Grill until tender.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
3 Portobello mushroom caps
olive oil
kosher salt

Take stem out of center of mushroom caps, rinse and pat try. Drizzle olive oil on a plate and sprinkle lightly with salt. Set mushroom caps down and slide around a bit to coat. After about 5 minutes, flip caps and repeat. Place on grill and cook until tender and easy to cut with a sharp knife.

We also had corn - I placed each cleaned cob on a sheet of tin foil, spread lightly with Smart Balance, sprinkled with Red Robin seasoning salt and drizzled with lime juice. Roll up the cob in the tin foil and twist the ends. Place on upper grill until cooked, turning periodically.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dip Dip Dip

I have become the go-to Guacamole maker in our household. It's a pretty easy recipe I've developed, but it comes out awesome pretty much every time.

Reese's Guacamole
4 Haas avocados
1 tbsp Homeward Bound PattyCake Hot Sauce
1 tbsp lime juice (fresh squeezed or "Real Lime" brand)
a sprinkle of Red Robin seasoning salt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped (if you like cilantro)
1/2 fresh jalapeno, very finely diced (if you want to add a little heat)

*If you like it a little spicy you can also add about 2 tsp of SparkPlug as well

Spoon avocado into a small mixing bowl. Add PattyCake and lime juice, mash until mixed well. Add cilantro and jalapeno if using, mix again and then add seasoning salt to taste.

We like to serve it with Tostitos Multi-Grain chips.

Reese's Jalapeno Dip (based on a recipe by Katie M.)
2 pkg Cream Cheese or Neufchatel cheese
4 or 5 fresh jalapenos, cleaned of seeds and membranes, finely diced

Place cheese in a microwavable bowl and microwave for about a minute. Stir and microwave for another minute if cheese is not soft enough to stir easily.

Add diced jalapeno and stir until combined. Refrigerate for at least a half hour before serving.

This dip is great with Tostitos Hint of Lime chips.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Vegetarian Meatloaf - #2

We had the neighbors over for dinner last night (no fava beans or chianti, thankyouverymuch) and Scott decided to make a fake meatloaf for me and a real meatloaf for them.

He based it on this recipe, but made a few changes (of course!).

2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Bob's Red Mill Veggie Soup Mix
1 small onion, diced
1 cup quick-cooking oat
3/4 cup grated cheese (cheddar/jack mix)
1 egg, beaten
4 1/2 ounces Classico Carmelized Onion & Roasted Garlic spaghetti sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
"A few sprigs" each of fresh basil, oregano and parsley
1/2 teaspoon Red Robin seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbs Homeward Bound SparkPlug Hot Sauce

Add salt to water and boil in a saucepan. Add soup mix and simmer covered 25-30 minutes, until beans are soft and most of water is evaporated. Remove from heat and transfer to bowl.

Allow to cool slightly, stir in onion, oats and cheese until mixed. Add egg, tomato sauce, garlic, herbs, seasoning salt and pepper. Mix well.

Spoon into loaf pan that has been greased lightly with a Smart Balance stick. Smooth top with back of spoon.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30- 45 minutes until top of loaf is dry, firm and golden brown. Cool in pan on rack for about 10 minutes.

This made a FANTASTIC meatloaf sandwich the next day.