Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Incredible Curried Lentils (vegan!)

If you're obsessed with Indian food like I am, you'll love this! I found it on epicurious and it was easy and fantastic! I added about 5 small potatoes, chopped, to the soup with the carrots but in the future I'll add them after the lentils. They turned out a little soft for my taste and the lentils need plenty of time to soften. Maybe 10 minutes into the simmering time? I also ended up adding about twice as much curry powder because I just had a generic brand that wasn't too spicy, and a couple dashes of cumin. It tasted pretty authentic! Especially with some naan bread and yogurt sauce we picked up at our local Indian restaurant. Yum!!

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) curry powder
  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 4 1/4 cups (or more) water, divided
  • 1 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges

  • Ingredient info: French green lentils are small, dark green, and speckled with black; they can be found at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores

    Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor.

    Add chickpea puree to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency.

    Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and serve with lemon wedges.

    Even better the second day!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Best Day EVER!!

Isn't that beautiful?!?!!

I am SO happy today!! When I tell you why you will certainly think me daft, but I don't care. Today, I made 100% whole wheat bread from scratch in the oven and it was awesome! Not only edible (which all my previous loaves were NOT) but it was fluffy and soft and chewy and moist and delicious! Nothing like my old doorstops! I tried a new recipe in order to teach my Young Women how to make homemade bread and was so tickled pink with myself that I think I scared the girls. Only my sweet husband understands the depth of suffering we all went through during my learning process :) It's really not hard at ALL, I just tried to cut corners and made a few mistakes that I will help you avoid.

I got this recipe from the food storage master's blog...she has lots of other amazing ways to cook with long term food storage!

NOTE: I didn't have potato flakes but did have potato starch from doing some gluten-free baking. That worked fine.
Also, make sure you're using a "bread flour" setting on your wheat grinder, if applicable. I've ground my wheat using several methods including the "course" setting on my grinder and it never turned out great.
Finally, use a Kitchenaid or Bosch for mixing if at all possible! My kneading attempts never allowed the dough to rise enough and this time I used my hand mixer (and burned out the motor, of course). Moral of the story, spend the cash and get the right equipment!

Delicious Wheat Bread! (yield: 1 loaf)

1 1/4 cup warm water
1 Tblsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (freshly ground is best, I used hard white)
1/4 cup wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
2 Tblsp nonfat non instant dry milk
1 Tblsp butter/margarine/oil
1 Tblsp vinegar
1/4 cup potato flakes (NOT potato pearls)

Mix ingredients in order listed in mixing bowl of mixer with dough hook attachment (like kitchen-aid) for 12-15 minutes. Let rise until double, 1- 1 1/2 hours. Punch down, and shape into loaf or rolls. Let rise again until double and bake 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and sounds hollow when lightly tapped.
If you are making this recipe in a bread machine, follow your bread machine’s directions for wheat or whole grain selection and add the ingredients in the order listed for their recommendations (only one loaf will fit in a bread maker).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Raw Granola Bars

Got this recipe out of a super healthy cookbook and I was shocked at how delicious they are! Just make sure to refrigerate them well so they hold together. They're actually pretty good frozen too!

3 c. rolled oats

1/4 C. whole seed millet or quinoa

1/4 C. sliced almonds

1/4 C. high nutrition protein powder

2 TBS raw pumpkin seeds

2 TBS raw sunflower seeds

2 TBS flax seed meal

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 C. raw honey

1 TBS coconut oil

1 TBS flax oil (sunflower market carries it in the supplement section)

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a small bowl, combine honey and oils (if needed, lightly heat first.)

Stir into dry mixture and mix very well.

Place about 1/4 cup of mixture onto 5" square of plastic wrap and fold sides in, wrapping tightly, pressing mixture together.

Chill for several hours to set.

I ate one of these with a yummy berry smoothie for breakfast the other day and felt so healthy and satisfied that I didn't need to eat until lunch!

Friday, November 5, 2010


No recipe today, just a bit of a rant. We all know what's best for us when it comes to food, right? At least if we're semi-conscious of health issues and trying to be at least ever so slightly informed about our food choices: whole grains, lots of fresh produce, minimal dairy/meats, etc. So, why is it that we still make so many poor choices? And when I say "we" of course you all know who I mean :). It would be one thing if getting depressed and binging on a pint of Ben & Jerry's or a greasy chicken drumstick tasted sooooooo good and made your cares all go away. But when the binge session just results in a stomachache, guilt and a general feeling of disgusting-ness, I just regret every second.

Case in point: i've been trying the challenge of eating 3 cups of veggies and 2 of fruits a day . Not servings, CUPS. It has been hard sometimes to get it all in, but because i personally HATE eating vegetables as a side (it's like a horrible chore that i dread and leave to the end of my meal) I have to incorporate them into my main dish more and more and my general diet for the week has been incredibly healthy. Not to mention I feel fantastic and am more regular than my toddler :). As life would have it, i busted out wicked ol' Giada's cookbook last night in search of dinner and decided to make 2 double chocolate pound cakes for dessert. With chocolate fudge sauce on the side. Yeah, i like to fall hard :)
Long story short, i felt like garbage last night and then, ate a couple pieces of greasy costco rotisserie chicken for lunch and feel even worse. What do I think I'm accomplishing by allowing that crap back into my life after a healthy stint? It doesn't even taste good anymore! That's the crazy thing to me. And so, next time I've got the blues, I am working on having the presence of mind to make vegan chocolate chip cookies instead of calling my poor husband and demanding he bring me eggs, butter and cream on the way home.

Someday I will learn to dominate this weak flesh!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mustard Chicken with Creamy Polenta

I cannot tell you the last time I had chicken with a side of starch. It used to be our staple and I haven't bought chicken for almost a year so I figured it was time to use the breasts that were in our deep freeze :) This recipe was soooo good! The chicken had such great flavor and the polenta was to die for! I had no idea just adding mascarpone and corn kernels would make such a difference! Luke and I were fighting over who got to eat it for lunch.

6 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, pressed
6 large chicken thighs with skin and bones
Olive oil

5 cups water
1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 3 large ears)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

Special equipment: Small metal turkey-lacing pins

Ingredient info:
Polenta is sold at some supermarkets and at natural foods stores and Italian markets. If unavailable, substitute an equal amount of regular yellow cornmeal and cook about half as long. Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese that's available at many supermarkets and at Italian markets.
print a shopping list for this recipe


For chicken:
Whisk onions, mustard, lemon juice, and garlic in medium bowl to blend. Using fingertips and leaving 1 side still attached, loosen skin on each chicken thigh. Lift skin flap on each and fold back. Spoon half of mustard seasoning atop thighs, dividing equally; spread to cover meat. Fold skin flap over to enclose seasoning and secure skin with metal pin. Sprinkle thighs with salt and pepper on both sides. Turn thighs, skin side up, and spread remaining mustard seasoning over skin. Transfer to small baking sheet. DO AHEAD: Chicken can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Preheat oven to 250°F. Brush grill rack generously with olive oil grill chicken until golden brown and cooked through, turning chicken occasionally and moving to cooler spot on grill if browning too quickly, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer grilled chicken to another baking sheet; keep warm in oven while preparing polenta.

For polenta:
Bring 5 cups water to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Gradually whisk in polenta, then 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until polenta is tender, thick, and creamy, whisking often and adjusting heat to maintain gentle simmer, 25 to 30 minutes. Add corn kernels and cook, stirring constantly, until corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in mascarpone cheese. Season polenta to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon polenta onto each of 6 plates. Top with grilled chicken and serve.

Sour Cream Pound Cake with Lavender Peaches

Another fabulous peach dessert! I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of floral stuff...most flowery perfumes, air fresheners, etc. just make me sick and in my food? Forget it. But THIS was outstanding! The lavender complemented the peach flavor just perfectly and I enjoyed pretty much the entire recipe singlehandedly. :) Word to the wise: don't serve it with the lavender syrup, or at least not more than a tablespoon or so. I ate my first serving with a bunch of syrup on it and it was way too sweet. FYI! Enjoy!

• 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup cornstarch
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
• 1 large egg
• 1 large egg white
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup sour cream

Lavender Syrup and Peaches
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 3 tablespoons dried lavender blossoms
• 4 medium firm but ripe peaches, pitted, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4-inch metal loaf pan. Dust pan with flour; tap out excess. Sift 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl;scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve bean for lavender syrup). Using an electric mixer, beat sugar mixture until fluffy. Add egg, egg white, and vanilla extract; beat until mixture is pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Beat in sour cream. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 56-58 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Turn cake out, then turn top side up. Cook completely.

Lavender Syrup and Peaches
Combine 2 1/4 cups water, sugar, lavender and reserved vanilla bean in a saucepan. Boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cover and let steep 10 minutes. Strain syrup into medium bowl; discard lavender. Pour 2 tablespoons lavender syrup into small bowl; reserve for whipped cream. Cover and chill. Return remaining syrup to same saucepan; add peaches and lemon juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer about 5 minutes. Transfer peaches to bowl.

Boil syrup in pan until reduced to 1 cup, 12 to 14 minutes. Pour over peaches. Chill uncovered 2 hours.

Beat cream and 2 tablespoons reserved syrup in medium bowl to soft peaks. Slice cake. Serve with peaches, syrup, and cream.

Fresh Peach Pie with Cream Cheese Crust!

So, not a lot of healthy eating for us this week...I went through a package of butter, a pint of cream and we ate meat twice but let me tell you, we had some great tasting stuff! And those of you with an indulgent streak, like me, will benefit :) Here is one of the amazing peach desserts I made with our box of fresh peaches this week. I actually only chilled it for like 30 minutes at the end but my peaches and cream were already cold, so it held together OK. Divine!
P.S. This is the best-tasting pie crust in the WORLD!!

Cream cheese crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour , plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces cream cheese , softened
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Peach filling:
  • 9 ripe peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
To make crust: Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and stir to mix. Set aside. With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add vanilla and almond extracts and stir to blend. Add sugar and stir until well blended. Add flour mixture, and blend thoroughly. Do not overmix.

With lightly floured hands, form dough into a flat round. Wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to handle, about 1 hour (dough will be slightly sticky).

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough out into a 12-inch round, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Roll dough up onto rolling pin, then place in a 2-inch-deep, 9-inch pie pan. Press dough lightly into bottom and sides of pan. Trim excess dough. Using a fork, press edges of dough down on lip of pie pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes or overnight before baking.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake crust until light brown and puffy, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

To make filling: In the meantime, peel, pit, and slice peaches. Mix with 1/2 cup sugar and spread evenly over prepared crust. Whip cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff. Top peaches with whipped cream and refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 8 hours.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pasta with Corn Pesto

This dish was fantastic!! A creamy satisfying pasta without (most of) the guilt! You could up the health factor by substituting asparagus or another crunchy veggie for the bacon. And could probably even skip the parmesan altogether. Either way it was great!
P.S. Don't skip the basil. It rounded out the flavor perfectly. And I used canned corn cause I'm lazy :)

4 bacon slices, cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces tagliatelle or fettuccine
3/4 cup coarsely torn fresh basil leaves, divided

Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown, stirring often. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet. Add corn, garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper to drippings in skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer 1 1/2 cups corn kernels to small bowl and reserve. Scrape remaining corn mixture into processor. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan and pine nuts. With machine running, add olive oil through feed tube and blend until pesto is almost smooth. Set pesto aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, and 1/2 cup basil leaves. Toss pasta mixture over medium heat until warmed through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta to large shallow bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil leaves and reserved bacon. Serve pasta, passing additional grated Parmesan alongside.

Friday, September 24, 2010

VEGAN Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Now that I've shared a delectable chocolate chip recipe that's terrible for you, here's an equally delicious one that's actually not bad for you! And if you don't believe me on the deliciousness, I DARE you to compare these to your usual faves. Moist, chewy, buttery-tasting...mmmmm! Wonderful. I made 2 double batches this week and they're both gone. Also made ice cream sandwiches with them....Heaven! Try coconut milk ice cream for an AMAZING vegan alternative :)
P.S. I haven't tried unrefined sugar yet (also called turbinado or other names) but I hear great things about it. The crystals are bigger and they're light brown so they look different but bake up wonderfully, so I've heard. It actually still has some nutrients from the sugar cane plant instead of being completely stripped of anything good for you!

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (see note below for wheat-free version)
1 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp baking soda
1⁄4 cup unrefined sugar
1⁄4 tsp sea salt
1⁄3 cup pure maple syrup
1⁄4 tsp blackstrap molasses
1 - 1 1⁄2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup organic canola oil (a little generous 1/4 cup)
1⁄3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). In a bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the sugar and salt, and stir until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup with the molasses and vanilla, then stir in the oil until well combined. Add the wet mixture to the dry, along with the chocolate chips, and stir through until just well combined (do not overmix). Place large spoonfuls of the batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten a little. Bake for 11 minutes, until just golden (if you bake for much longer, they will dry out). Let cool on the sheet for no more than 1 minute (again, to prevent drying), then transfer to a cooling rack. Makes 8-10 large cookies.

Note: Unbleached all-purpose flour produces a cookie with a very classic taste and texture, but you can use whole-wheat pastry flour and still have delicious cookies! For a wheat-free version, use barley or spelt flour. With spelt flour, you may need to add an extra 2-4 TB of flour, if it is a refined spelt flour. Also, if using all-purpose flour, if the batter is heavy and dense when mixing in the wet ingredients, add another 1-2 tsp each of maple syrup and canol oil and work through.
Courtesy Vive Le Vegan

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rockin' Fish Tacos

Another Cuisinenie delight!
**Google "tempura batter" for easy recipes. I just used regular white flour to dredge the fish.

PART 1: Fish

• 1 lime, juiced
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 12 ounces of Dover or Tilapia
• 16 (8-inch) corn or flour tortillas
• Canola oil
• 4 ounces tempura flour
• 8 ounces prepared tempura batter made with cold water
• 6 ounces panko bread crumbs

In medium bowl combine lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper; mix thoroughly. Add the fish and toss to coat. Marinate for 10 minutes.
Warm tortillas on grill or pan. Cover with a towel to keep warm.
In a medium Dutch oven, heat the canola oil to 350 degrees F.

• Remove fish from marinade, shake off excess, dredge in tempura flour, and dunk in cold tempura mixed batter. Roll in panko bread crumbs, pressing panko onto fish. One by one add fish to oil, making sure to keep the fish pieces separated. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

PART 2: Sauce

• Ingredients:
• 2 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
• 4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
• 1 jalapeno, sliced
• 1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce
• 1 chopped yellow bell pepper
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
• Salt and pepper

Preheat grill or use side burners of the grill. Heat oil in medium saucepan, add onions, bell pepper and garlic and cook until soft. Add tomatoes and jalapeno and cook until tomatoes are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Puree the mixture in the blender and add the hot sauce, oregano, cilantro and lime juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

-Crisp shredded lettuce
-Dollop of cold sour cream

Shrimp and Garbanzo Coconut Curry

We had two home runs for dinner this week, both from cuisinenie.blogspot, Nie Nie's food blog, and both submitted by readers. This one was just outstanding! We served it with regular brown rice but I like the turmeric idea she mentions at the end. Or saffron rice!
**I only used olive oil to saute, no butter, and I only used about a teaspoon curry paste. I don't know what kind she was referring to in the recipe but the kind I buy is in a teeny tiny jar and a little goes a long way, fyi.

• 2 lbs of shrimp, cleaned, shelled and deveined
• 1 large onion
• 1 fresh green chile
• thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
• small bunch of cilantro
• can of garbanzo beans
• Olive Oil
• 2 T of butter
• 2/3 cup of korma or mild curry paste (I like the Patak's brand)
• can of coconut milk
• 1/2 cup of water
• 1/2 cup of sliced almonds
• 3 T. unsweetened shredded coconut
• fresh pepper and kosher salt
• 1 1/2 cups of plain or Greek style yogurt
• 1 lemon
1. Get your shrimp ready (devein, unshell, clean, etc.), slice your onions, mince your chili, peel & mince the ginger, chop up the cilantro and drain your garbanzo beans.
2. Add your olive oil and 2 T of butter to a skillet and put on high head. Add in your chile, ginger, onions and cilantro. Be careful not to burn it but cook it until golden. Which takes about 7 minutes
3. Add in the curry paste, coconut milk, half of the almonds, the garbanzo beans, coconut, water.
4. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Keep on eye on it to make sure it is not drying out, you can add a bit more water if you need too.
5. Then throw in the shrimp, shrimp doesn't take too long to cook so after 5-7 minutes it should be done. When your shrimp is cooked, add in the salt & pepper
6. Serve with some yogurt, sliced almonds and squeeze a bit of lemon over the top.

I like to serve this with turmeric brown rice, all you do is add some tumeric into your water when the cooking the rice and voila! Beautiful yellow turmeric rice.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nothing-healthy-about-it Double Layer Chocolate Panna Cotta Cake

This cake was DEE-licious. I ate almost the whole thing. But I will not post the recipe. No sireee. Why, you ask? Because it was SO wickedly bad for you :) Suffice it to say the ingredients included Kahlua and lots and lots and lots of cream. Oh yeah. Anyway, the recipe's on epicurious.com anyway. My chocolate band didn't quite turn out but it looks good anyway, right?
Hurray for evil indulgences!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Grilled Veggie Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

So, out of all the (part-time) vegetarians in the world, I probably like vegetables the least of them all. If it's not broccoli or zucchini, I probably won't eat it. Ok, in all honesty I'm better than I used to be but they're still not my favorite. Not to mention the fact that most vegetarian recipes never seem hearty enough for me. Lo and behold, this recipe. It was SO satisfying, so full of flavor, I just could NOT get enough. That's right, I went back for seconds. And it's just veggies!! And an amazing dressing. If you're not a huge fan of blue cheese (unlike me who eats it by the handful) don't shy away from this dressing. It's by no means overpowering, just a flavorful and tangy vinaigrette. I'm so amazed at how good this was!! Looking forward to leftovers for lunch :)

I didn't have fennel and also left out beets due to preference. Used fresh spinach instead of mixed greens and broiled veggies instead of grilling cause it was 110 degrees outside :)
**Also, I grilled the potatoes separately and my kids ate those with ketchup cause they're not so into veggies. Weird, right??

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (such as Maytag; about 2 ounces)
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 bell peppers (preferably in assorted colors), seeded, quartered lengthwise
1 pound red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cut through core into 8 wedges
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
10 baby beets (about 11/2 inches in diameter), trimmed, scrubbed, halved crosswise
1 large red onion, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 5-ounce package mixed baby greens

Whisk vinegar, Dijon mustard, and 5 tablespoons oil in small bowl. Stir in cheese. Season dressing with salt and generous amount of pepper.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat); brush grill with oil. Place all vegetables except beets, onion, and baby greens in large bowl; drizzle with remaining 4 tablespoons oil and toss to coat. Transfer to large rimmed baking sheet. Place beets in same bowl; toss to coat with any remaining oil in bowl and transfer to baking sheet. Sprinkle vegetables with salt and pepper. Brush onion slices with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until slightly charred and tender, about 12 minutes for beets, potatoes, and fennel, turning occasionally, and about 4 minutes per side for zucchini, peppers, onion slices, and mushrooms.

Mound greens in center of 4 plates. Arrange onions and vegetables atop greens. Drizzle dressing over and serve.

Everybody Like Parfait!

Let me first apologize for my absence...it's been a busy summer and I have made a whole lot of boring, predictable meals (when I wasn't on vacation eating total garbage, that is!). So, to make up for it, here's a recipe for the most outstanding summer dessert I've had in...forever. It's tangy, creamy, gingersnappy...so many wonderful things in every bite. And, for you gingersnap/lemon virgins out there, I must say that it may be the best combo since dark chocolate and cream. Ok, well, nothing's THAT good!
**I used purchased lemon curd (Trader Joe's) and substituted OJ for the limoncello. I mashed the berries a bit more rather than letting them sit for hours and also didn't chill everything after assembly, just ate right away. I didn't like the idea of the cookies getting soggy...I like crunch. Divine!
Courtesy Bon Appetit

Lemon curd:
• 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel
• 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
• Pinch of salt
• 2 large eggs
• 3 large egg yolks

Blackberry compote:
• 2 cups fresh blackberries (about 12 ounces)
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 2 tablespoons limoncello
• 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

• 4 ounces gingersnap cookies (about 16)
• 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
• 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
• Pinch of salt

• Even easier: High-quality purchased lemon curd can be used in place of homemade.

For lemon curd:
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, cream, and pinch of salt. Add eggs and egg yolks; whisk to blend. Cook over medium-low heat until thick enough for mixture to leave path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, stirring constantly, 6 to 7 minutes (do not boil). Strain into medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly atop lemon curd. Chill at least 8 hours or overnight.

For blackberry compote:
Toss all ingredients in medium bowl to coat, lightly crushing some of berries to release juices. Cover and chill until sugar dissolves and juices form, about 3 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

For assembly:
Place cookies in large resealable plastic bag. Crush cookies with mallet or rolling pin until largest pieces are about 1/2 inch. Using electric mixer, beat cream, mascarpone, and pinch of salt in large bowl just until peaks form. Arrange six 8-ounce parfait glasses or compote cups on work surface. Spoon 4 to 5 berries and some of juices in bowl into each cup. Cover and chill remaining berries in bowl for serving. Spoon 1/4 cup mascarpone whipped cream over berries in each cup, spreading in even layer. Add generous 1 tablespoon curd, spreading to edges. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon crushed gingersnaps over. Repeat layering 1 more time with mascarpone whipped cream, lemon curd, and crushed gingersnaps. Top with remaining cream. Cover; chill desserts at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.
Uncover desserts. Spoon remaining berry mixture over and serve.

Prepare to eat repeatedly throughout the day :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pasta with Cauliflower, Anchovies and Croutons

Don't let the anchovies freak you out. This dish was divine! I ate it hot for dinner, cold for lunch, later for a midnight snack...I'd make it again in a heartbeat! We fed it to the missionaries and they even went back for seconds!
Courtesy Bon Appetit

1 large head cauliflower, trimmed, cut into florets
8 tbs olive oil, divided
1 pound medium-size shell pasta
1 1/2 cups crusty artisan-style bread (cut into 1/3" cubes)
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/3" cubes
3 large garlic cloves, minced
7 anchovy filets, chopped finely
1/2 cup parsley
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tbs freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
(I used part parmigiano-reggiano and part mozzarella for the cheeses)

Preheat oven to 425. Toss cauliflower florets with 1 tbs olive oil and salt/pepper to coat. Spread out on baking sheet and roast until tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 25 min. Cool and chill if desired.

Cook pasta in large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/3 cups pasta cooking liquid (I always forget and dump the water :).

Heat 2 tbs. oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add bread cubes and saute until crispy and golden. Transfer to bowl to cool, reserve pot.

In same pot, add 2 tbs. oil and heat over med-high heat. Add zucchini and garlic, saute for 3-4 minutes. Add cauliflower and anchovies, saute until heated through, 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add drained pasta, reserved cooking liquid, remaining 3 tbs oil, 1/3 cup parsley, 1/3 cup parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheese, toss to coat. Season to taste again with S & P. Serve with croutons, remaining parsley and cheese on top.

Tortilla Soup

Remember...I'm not a food photographer :)

This was a fantastic soup that was made almost completely out of pantry staples. You could add chicken but it was great without. We served it sprinkled with broken up tortilla chips and a little cheese. I also served chips dipped into refried beans with melted cheese on top...yummy!

Saute onions, a little garlic and chopped bell pepper in olive oil. I used one roasted red pepper from a jar (cause i had them) and a couple sweet mini peppers. Cook for a few minutes until peppers begin to soften, add some green chiles (i used about half a small can), chopped tomatoes (I used a ton of cherry tomatoes from our garden. They are SO sweet! You could also use about 2 cans chopped tomatoes). I also threw in about 1/4 cup salsa verde (the recipe called for a couple chopped tomatillos). Saute for a few minutes longer. Add one can each of corn and black beans, and about 4 cups chicken or veggie broth and heat thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper, cumin, chili powder, cilantro, whatever! Serve sprinkled with broken tortilla chips and a little cheese. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Veganize Your Life

I realize that it must seem utterly impossible to many people that there is life without consuming animal products: no scrambled eggs in the morning, no chicken salad for lunch, no panna cotta for dessert! But really, the concept of exchanging these animal by-products for whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes is actually very simple. In theory, that is. I'm as weak as the next person when it comes to Coldstone ice cream or even a greasy, crunchy corn dog :) But our family is working on making these indulgences just that: indulgences, not everyday fare. I've been thinking of some tips to throw out there to any of you who'd like to eat more vegetarian/vegan but don't know where to start. So here they are!

1. Don't become a "junk" vegetarian. I had a friend who claimed to be vegetarian but all she ate was diet coke and Doritos. Just because you eliminate meat does NOT make you a healthy eater. You might save a few cows and actually lose a few pounds...but then you'd go bald and your vital organs would shut down. Instead, begin replacing some animal products with fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. You'll feel just as full after a meal, without the meat-induced heaviness.

2. Other than plain eggs for breakfast, we have not missed eggs one bit. There are a myriad of ways to replace them in baked goods (including plain old egg substitute; a powdery combination of starches and leavening agents you can buy in most health food stores), and my new breakfast favorite is a french toast soaked in a banana custard instead of eggs. A word of warning: when baking with baking powder, don't overmix the batter and try not to taste it (esp. cake and pancake batter). It can taste metallic-y which really freaked me out the first couple of times. This disappears after cooking.

Just think...now you don't have to worry about the listeria and salmonella from raw eggs in cake batter or cookie dough! (like that ever stopped us from tasting it before :)

3. Legumes are no longer a side dish...let them take center stage! American have an obsession with protein. We're constantly worried we're not getting enough when in reality, with most of us aiming for 30% protein in our diet, we're often getting too much. The World Health Organization recommends that protein make up roughly 10% of a person's diet. High protein diets have been linked to heart disease, cancer and a host of other maladies. Well, diets high in animal proteins, that is. Contrary to popular belief, lots of plant products contain protein, mainly nuts and legumes. Your burrito doesn't need chicken AND refried beans! I have always been a fan of beans and now I'm finding even more fantastic ways of incorporating them into my diet. My latest obsession is hummus. I used to think it was the most disgusting thing in the world...probably because I only tried the plain kind. My new favorite cookbook (Eat, Drink and Be Vegan) has a plethora of outstanding hummus recipes. Not only does the author use them as a dip but she spreads them on sandwiches and wraps and uses them as a pizza sauce. Ingenious!!

4. Invest in a good blender and/or food processor. In the past I used my blender maybe once every couple of weeks for a smoothie or salsa. Now I use it practically every day: hummus, aiolis, smoothies, sauces, dressings, you name it. You will invest more prep time in your cooking as a vegetarian but the defrosting/cooking time you previously spent on meat will disappear. People also bring up the cost of buying nuts, avocados and oils and the fat content of these foods. The costs are actually just about the same as what someone might spend on meat and the fat is all the good kind! In previous years there's been an obsession with low-fat and low-cal everything. That's good if it gets you to weed out the donuts and butter in your life but not when you cut out essential fats. Remember, your body needs fat to function and to cushion organs...it's an excess of fat that creates the muffin top :) The calories you avoid by eliminating animal products will allow you plenty of leeway when it comes to the healthy stuff.

5. If you want to eat out, plan ahead of time. Quick, think of the closest restaurant or fast food joint with healthy options. Drawing a blank? That's cause there aren't any. Ok, I exaggerate, but in all seriousness, most of it is way worse than we realize. I've begun swearing off any place with a drive-thru since they never have many (if any) vegan options and healthy food takes time to prepare. Instead, I've stashed a couple of healthy(er) restaurant take out menus in my glove box for those days when there is just no time. Some of my favorites are Rubios Mexican Grill, Pita Jungle, Pasand Indian Food and Chipotle/Qdoba. You sometimes have to get creative (ordering a burrito without meat or sour cream, for example) but it's worth it.

6. DO. NOT. GO. HUNGRY. Once those hunger pangs set in, you're just short step away from consuming a dozen Krispy Kremes. Or is that just me??? Find some outstanding healthy(er) dessert recipes and let yourself indulge. Some of my favorite natural sweeteners are agave nectar (in my opinion, the best of them all), pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.

7. Make a weekly menu. If you're as bad of an improvisational cook as I am this will save your rear time and time again. There is nothing as despairing as seeing 4:30 roll around with not a clue of what's for dinner. Whiny children, afternoon slumps and no food in sight; it's enough to induce meltdowns in my house... and I don't mean from the kids. I always keep some super speedy dinners up my sleeve (with appropriate ingredients in the pantry) for those days when I'm out of groceries and options. For example: spaghetti marinara, vegan pancakes, tostadas, taco soup, rice with any kind of sauce (Trader Joes has the most amazing bottled Thai curries!).

8. Watch out for soy. It's very easy to replace all your meat and dairy products with soy substitues (soy cream cheese, soy cheese substitutes, tofu-based bacon, deli slices, you name it. yes, I agree, most of that sounds disgusting) but it's not a good idea. Remember, moderation in all things. There's still quite a bit of controversy about soy out there. Apparently it has enzymes that can fool the estrogen receptors in your body making it think that there's an abundance of hormones. Until that gets all figured out, I try to limit myself to one or two servings of soy a day and even less for my kids.

9. Don't give up! So you had a weekend with girlfriends where you feasted on caramel brownies and Ben & Jerry's?? (oh wait, that was me again). So what? Falling off the bandwagon is less important than getting back on. Remember, healthy eating should be about cultivating a diet that you LOVE. Not one that will prevent heart attacks but makes you barf. Case in point? Ever since my mom made me gag down squash in my youth, I have detested it. Butternut, acorn, sweet potatoes, you name it. I can hardly stand to taste the baby food I give my infant. But I know that it's good for me so I've been on a quest to find a delicious way to prepare it. I'm still looking but I've already found one way that makes butternut squash so delectable I can eat the whole thing (peel and slice it into rounds, sprinkle with salt and rosemary, bake at 400 for about 30 min. SO good!). Anyway, the point is, I'm not gonna make myself eat something I hate. I'm going to eat whole, plant-based foods that come from this delicious planet we live on and I'm gonna love it!
Especially when that food is coconut milk made into cookie dough ice cream....

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Best smoothie EVER!

I found a fantastic vegan cookbook called Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I've tried several recipes from it so far and every one is fantastic. In fact the two desserts I've tried are better than most in my omnivorous arsenal, plus I feel all righteous for eating desserts without tons of sugar and animal products :) This smoothie's also in there and I'm telling you, if you can get past the green color (hence no picture...not very pretty), you'll be making this every day for the rest of your life.

Freshly squeezed OJ (enough for easy blending, 1/2 - 1 cup?)
1 banana
1 ripe mango
1 ripe avocado
about 1-2 cups chopped green (kale, chard, spinach, etc)
as much ice as desired

Blend it all up and check off your serving of weird leafy greens for the day!

P.S. I had to bribe Liam with a quarter to try it but then he loved it!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Double Chocolate Cupcake Manna

Let me just preface this recipe with the fact that I really do not enjoy cupcakes...actually I don't really love cake itself. It's usually dry with nasty icing (I also really don't like icing) and I much prefer brownies or ice cream. I'm a fudgy, creamy kind of girl, basically. So, having said that, I must say that I ate half of these cupcakes. They were AWESOME. And they just so happen to be vegan. Enjoy!

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2/3 c. canola oil
2 tsp. white vinegar
2 cups cold water

Preheat oven to 350. Place cupcake liners in pan (or grease pan well). In large bowl, sift dry ingredients together. In medium bowl, mix vanilla, oil, vinegar and water.
Slowly whisk wet ingredients into dry, do not overmix.
Pour batter into cupcake pan and bake for about 24 minutes.
Cool for about 10 minutes.
Then frost with THIS:

1/4 cup margarine
1/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 tbsp. soy milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cream margarine and shortening well. Add cocoa powder and mix well. Add sugar in several batches and beat well, adding soy milk as needed. After all ingredients are added, mix in vanilla and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes with mixer).

The cupcakes turn out with a slightly crusty top that is so nice to bite into and the icing is just the perfect sweetness, according to my book. They're sure to be a hit!