Friday, December 21, 2012

Tomato Basil Soup

As endless summer fades into endless autumn, and again into what can only be termed "Winter" by a person who has never actually lived through one,  it comes time for soups! The occasional 'cold snap'- literally, a day or two when temperatures drop to- gasp!- below 60 and sunny- require a warm and comforting dish like this to keep you "warm".

 And of all the delicious soup combos- tomato soup and grilled cheese- that is the golden classic. This soup was simple and delicious- another winner adapted from 'A Year in the Vegetarian Kitchen' by Jack Bishop.

2 28-oz cans of whole tomatoes (I like San Marzano)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
3 medium leeks, whites and greens, washed and cut into thin strips
1 tbsp sun-dried/double strength tomato paste (Get the italian stuff that is imported and comes in a toothpaste tube. It's the only way to go)
2 tbsp flour
2 cups vegetable broth
cayenne pepper
fresh basil, cut "chiffonade" (roll it up and cut into thin ribbons)
Fresh or dried oregano
heavy cream for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Prepare a rimmed baking dish by lining with tinfoil. Drain the tomatoes from the juice in a sieve, collecting the juice in a bowl below. Open the tomatoes one at a time, and use your thumb to slide out the seeds and any juice on the inside into the strainer. Set the bowl aside for later. Place the tomatoes on the baking sheet and sprinkle with brown sugar. Roast until all liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes begin to color. Discard the seeds in the strainer and reserve the juice in the bowl for later.

2. Melt the butter in the bottom of the soup pot. Add the leeks and salt and pepper, and allow to cook down over medium-low heat. Add the tomato paste, 3/4 of the basil, and oregano, and continue cooking, stirring often. Add the flour and stir for another minute, then slowly add in the vegetable broth, using a whisk to constantly stir. Add the juice and roasted tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.

3. Use either a magic wand or hand blender to puree the soup until perfectly smooth. Adjust the seasoning, adding in cayenne and salt to taste.

4. Serve and garnish with a tbsp of the heavy cream drizzled on top and a sprinkle of the fresh basil ribbons.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Baked Leek & Sweet Potato Gratin

Fall has finally arrived in the ATX, and I've been searching out new comfort food recipes. This one was inspired by my favorite magazine, Vegetarian Times. I made a few Lora Dever tweaks, and it can be a simple yet savory and sweet side, or a main course with a salad and crusty bread!!

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into slices
3 medium leeks, whites and light green parts, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable broth (approx)
Fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, about a fistful, chopped
1/4 cup shredded cheese blend (I used mexican b/c I had it on hand, but any blend will do)
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tbs breadcrumbs
olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Heat a small amount of the oil in a pan. Over med-low heat, saute the garlic and leeks until translucent, being careful not to allow to stick and burn or brown. Use a little splash of vegetable stock to moisten if they start sticking before softened and aromatic.
3. Once leeks and garlic are aromatic, add 1/2 of the herbs and saute, salt and pepper to taste.
4. In casserole dish, arrange 1/3 of the sweet potato slices so they overlap. Spread 1/2 the leek mixture on top. Arrange another layer of sweet potato and leeks, and top with a few additional sweet potato pieces.
5. Drizzle broth over the top and cover with tinfoil. Bake about 35 minutes.
6. In a small bowl, stir together bread crumbs, about a tsp of olive oil, and remaining herbs. Remove foil from gratin and sprinkle mixture and cheese on top.
7. Allow to bake uncovered for 15 additional minutes, or until the top is "gratin"!  (browned)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Soy Glazed Salmon with Bok Choy and Sushi Rice

One of my goals is to eat more fish. I've been trying salmon lately, and this recipe sounded so delicious! (Thank you, Martha Stewart!) I also was thrilled to see that all the ingredients were already in my kitchen pantry, and it took about 10 minutes to get everything prepped!


honey-about 2 tbsp

  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 a shallot
  • 1 pound salmon fillet
  • pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. with a rack in the center. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir brown sugar, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and white wine until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Cut salmon fillet into 4 equal-size pieces; arrange, skin side down, in a single layer in a baking dish. Pour glaze over the fish, and turn to coat evenly.
  3. Bake until fish is opaque but still bright pink inside, basting every few minutes with glaze from baking dish, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

For the Bok Choy:

1 clove garlic
1/2 shallot
olive oil
2 heads baby bok choy
salt and pepper
1/4 lemon

Cut off the ends of the bok choy and rinse well in a colander. Split each piece into two parts.
Sweat the garlic and shallots in the oil. 
Add in the bok choy, toss in the oil, and sprinkle with lemon, salt and pepper.
Turn up the heat and press the bok choy into the pan. Cook until the stems are soft and the greens wilt.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Curry Noodle with Cilantro Butter Tofu

I love thai noodle dishes- both flat noodles, and the "rice stick" (Banh pho) noodles pictured above, which are commonly used in dishes like Pad thai. One of my favorite dishes is curry noodle- and it is so easy to make, and delicious! We made a batch just last night, and it was amazing! In a regular grocery store, you might be able to find some banh pho in the international aisle, but you may have to shop an Asian Grocery to find a brand outside of Taste of Thai (which I avoid!!)

Banh pho noodles- soak in a bowl of water for about 30-45 minutes before you want to cook them
Follow my recipe to make a batch of Thai Curry.
Peanut or Vegatable oil
THAI soy sauce

For the Tofu:
Tofu, patted dry and cut into cubes
Fresh Cilantro
Salt & Pepper


Put the noodles in cold water and set aside to soak.

Preheat the oven to 375. Prepare the tofu by spreading butter on each side, and then sprinkling some freshly chopped cilantro on each piece. Season with salt and pepper, and bake, 30-40 minutes, until the tofu crisps up and browns lightly on the edges.

Once the Tofu is baking, start the curry sauce. This takes about 30 minutes.

Once the curry and tofu are finished, heat a saute pan or wok until it is very hot. Add in some peanut oil, just enough to cover the pan, and drain and toss in the noodles. Stir fry to coat the noodles in the oil. Allow them to cook a few minutes, until they turn translucent. Ladle the curry sauce over the noodles, and continue to cook, stirring frequently. Add in the tofu and some vegetables from the curry, and toss together. Taste, if too spicy, add in more Thai soy sauce.

Plate and garnish with a handful of fresh cilantro.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kale Caesar Salad

Lately, I have seen this item on menus, and can't help ordering it! I never thought I'd like kale cooked, let alone raw, but it's delicious. The contrast of the slightly bitter and tough leaf with the citrus of the lemony caesar dressing and the salty cheese is just awesome! And a great source of vitamins, to boot!

Lascinato "Tuscan" Kale (Also sometimes called dinosaur kale- roar!)
Aged Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese, shaved
salt & pepper

2 cloves of garlic, very finely mashed into a paste with 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (Half a lemon)
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Generous tsp plus Worcestershire sauce (this helps fill in for the anchovy flavor, but really, there is no replacement- if you aren't adverse, just use anchovies!!)
2 tbsp mayonnaise (I use this instead of a raw egg.)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Oregano & Parsley

Whisk ingredients together, adding olive oil last. Adjust to taste.

1. Remove the rib from the center of each kale leaf, fold, and then slice into thin ribbon strips (Chiffonade).
2. Whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl and pour over the salad, toss thoroughly.
3. Top with the freshly shaved cheese, salt and pepper as needed, and croutons.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baked Lemon and Garlic Tilapia with Buttery New Potatoes

What is better than a simple, quick, and incredibly delicious meal?! Nothing! This is a weeknight winner, and healthy to boot.

1 Lemon
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
Bread Crumbs
Oregano & Parsley
Tilapia Filets


Grease the bottom of a cooking pan, and set tilapia filets inside.

Sprinkle fish with breadcrumbs, oregano, parsley, and garlic.

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon on each piece and pour 2 tbsp melted butter on top.

Season with black pepper.

Bake at 375 for half an hour, or until fish flakes.

For the Potatoes:

Boil new potatoes, drain, and toss in melted butter and fresh cut chives.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

French Onion Soup Gratinee

"Some people might be scared off by this recipe, but it's really easy!" Why they would be frightened, I'll never know, because soups are the simple way to go. And this one is super easy- cook onions in butter, douse with booze, and pour in some stock and simmer. Salt and pepper to taste.... and then cut up some crusty bread, put that on top, and melt some gruyere or swiss over the whole darn thing. Voila. Comfort in a bowl.

If you're more of a details person, check out the specifics below!! No matter how you make it, enjoy.

If you cook the onions right, which is low and slow, it will take about 2 hours total.

1/2 stick butter
5-6 medium onions, or combination of onion-like things:
(2 yellow, 1 white, 2 red,  or use a shallot or some leek....)
1 container beef stock  and 1/4-1/2 of a second stock (chicken, or vegetable, or a blend)
Dry booze- sherry, white wine, red wine, or brandy, generous
salt & pepper
gruyere or swiss cheese
crusty bread for crouton

(If you're feeling fancy, throw some herbs or garlic in there just to go crazy with it.)

Over low heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook slowly, stirring frequently. Don't let them stick and burn. After about 45 min-1 hour, add in the booze and turn up the heat to medium and allow to cook off. Add in the stock, turn down to a simmer, and let cook, about 20-30 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turn the oven to broil. Put the soup in oven-safe bowls, top with the crouton, and melt the cheese, about 2 mins.

Serve with a caesar salad and more bread and enjoy!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tofu (Pork) in Adobo Sauce

Adobo Sauce: you beautiful, smoky, delicious-ness, you! I dream of you at night! And you are so simple to make.

Think barbecue sauce, but better.

I put it on tofu, Ry puts it on porkchops.

Found originally in the Dean & Deluca cookbook and tinkered with over the years.

1 dried chipotle pepper
4 dried ancho chiles
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
6 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup minced onion
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/3 cup honey, to taste
salt to taste
1/2 tbsp mustard
pinch of cilantro

Roast the dried peppers in the oven at 450 degrees until they are aromatic and puffy, about 3-5 minutes. Cut open and remove the stem and seeds. Place in a small bowl or cup of hot water, enough to cover the pepper skins. Let soak for about 30 minutes.

Remove the chilis, and set aside the liquid for later. Chop the chilis roughly, and place in food processor with 2 tbsp of the soaking liquid. Puree until smooth.

Add in the vinegar, OJ, line juice, onion, garlic, honey, mustard and salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings- adding more honey if the heat is too high, more soaking liquid if too thick, etc.

Grilling the tofu:

Buy an extra firm brand, and press out the water. Marinade for at least 30 minutes, and place on skewers. Prep the grill with oil or non-stick spray as the tofu has a tendency to stick. Grill about 5 minutes per side, brushing with extra marinade.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

TLT: Tofu, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich

Ah, the BLT. I was never a fan of bacon even back in the day when I ate a lot of meat. But, I am a fan of the smoky flavor. So, when I came across this recipe, I thought... sheer brilliance!

Beefsteak or vine Tomato
Green leaf lettuce
Tofu: patted dry and sliced very thin.
Barbecue Sauce or Adobo Sauce
Mayonnaise (Chipotle/Adobo and garlic mayo)
salt & pepper
Avocado (Optional)
French Bread

Mix the mayonnaise and barbecue sauce together. Place the sliced tofu in a baking dish and coat top and bottom generously with mixture. Bake about 25 minutes. Assemble sandwiches, using a generous amount of mayo, the tofu, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and salt and pepper on the white bread.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tomato Provencal

   Tomato is my favorite thing. Therefore, stuffing tomatoes with other delicious ingredients, is a very good thing. So, tonight's quick and easy dinner went like this...

3-6 Medium tomatoes
salt and pepper
gruyere, parmesan, or other good melting cheese
1-2 small garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
herbs- Chives, green onion, parsley, oregano or basil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the top off each tomato and set aside. Scoop out the insides and the seeds into a bowl. Set the tomato shells into a baking dish.
In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add in the garlic and herbs and sauté. Melt the cheese into the mixture.
Pour the hot mixture into the tomato shell, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, the salt and pepper, and a bit of olive oil. Set the tops into the dish with a little olive oil and cook those too, for about 25 minutes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Twice Baked Potatoes

Ryan and I have been in a bit of a cooking rut- not that we haven't been cooking, but we haven't really been making anything new. So, in an attempt to spark the fire, I went searching for ideas. And twice baked potatoes got us up, out to the store, and cooking, lickety split. I mean, duuuuuuude.

1 medium russet or idaho per person (or halve for a daintier portion or if a side)
olive oil
irish cheddar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 stick- 3/4 stick butter (Look, I eat mashed potatoes maybe 4 times a year. I'm doing it right.)
1 tbsp cream (optional)
salt and pepper
(bacon, if you like that sort of thing... or fakin'.. if you prefer....)

1. Clean the potatoes, stab all over with a fork, and rub olive oil on with your hands. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until tender.

2. Allow to cool. Cut the top third off, and scoop out the inner flesh.

3. Mix into a bowl with the milk, sour cream, butter, cheese, and chives. Mash, or blend with a hand blender if desired.

4. Pour mixture back into potatoes and top with an additional flourish of cheese, chive, and salt and pepper.

5. Bake an additional 15- 20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Thai Curry

We've been making different versions of this recipe for just about 8 years with mixed results. I finally took a thai cooking class just this past week, and made some curry I can write home about! Thank you Jam and Thai Fresh of South Austin for showing me the way :) Check out her blog at : Thai Cooking with Jam. There's some recipes on there that I am hitting up any day now....

I learned a few really helpful tips- one, thai soy sauce is nothing like the japanese soy sauce, and they cannot be substituted for each other without effecting the recipe. Thai curry is a process- like risotto, and not a reference to the spices, and so you can follow the same recipe and swap out the paste to make yellow, green, and massaman curry, too. Finally, unless you want to have the experience, flavor-wise, it is not worth it to make the paste from scratch. And if you choose to, be prepared to pound the ingredients with a mortar and pestle for a solid 15-20 minutes.

I was amazed at how simple the recipes and methods are. It's all about the ingredients. I will post more- I also learned how to make coconut soup, pad thai, and sticky rice- and maybe I'll eventually learn how to even make pad khee mao and pad see ew!! You might have to do some specialty shopping, but at an Asian grocer, it shouldn't be too hard to find most of the ingredients.

1 can red curry paste- Mae Sri brand (If you prefer less heat, use 1/2 a can for mild or 3/4 for medium)
1 and 1/3 cans coconut milk (Chao Kho, Aroy-D, Mae Ploy brand)
Water or stock (about 3/4 of the coconut milk can)
2 cups cubed tofu or pan sauteed chicken in oil and cilantro (this is how Ryan likes it!)
3-4 cups yellow squash or zucchini
green beans or snap peas
red or yellow bell pepper
THAI soy sauce, 2 tbsp (If still too spicy at the end, add more of this to curb the heat)
1-2 tsp sugar
1 cup/ a large branch of thai basil (can sub regular basil...but should be easy to find thai basil)
4 kaffir lime leaves (just leave them out if you can't find them)
2 handfuls fresh cilantro

1. Scoop in the 'cream' of one can of coconut milk. (Only the thick white part, let the clearer milk remain in the can for now.) Scoop in the red curry paste, stir in, and turn to medium/low. Allow the curry paste to fry in the coconut milk (don't stir), for about 3-5 minutes, until red cracks form in the coconut milk.

2. Add in the remaining coconut milk and water and bring it to a boil. Add in the meat/tofu and the vegetables and simmer until the veggies are tender.

3. Add fish sauce or thai soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, and the basil and kaffir leaves. Turn off the heat and serve over rice.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Rice Krispy Treats

Classics: Rice Krispy Treats

Some things in the kitchen never go out of style, and Rice Krispy Treats are at the top of that list for me. Brilliantly compatible with the cooking skill level of the average 8-year old, this gem of a recipe makes a quick and tasty treat. And all things considered, not that bad for you either. Snap, crackle pop!

3 tbsp butter
1 bag marshmallows- 10 oz of the big ones
6 cups of rice krispies cereal

1. Melt the butter in a pan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted.
2. Remove from heat and add in the cereal. Stir.
3. Press mixture into a greased pan and cool.

Now, there are a couple of variations out there that I'm dying to make. Check these out:

Though they look crazy fancy, they use the same recipe- but you drop them on greased cookie sheets and shape them into balls with your hands, and then decorate as desired. Happy birthday to me.....

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fava Beans with Seared Mushrooms and CousCous

     Ryan and I returned to one of my all-time favorite restaurants right before we left NY: Daniel. They offer a vegetarian tasting menu, which was seven courses of sheer glory. One of the dishes that stood out to me was a fava bean and mushroom dish, which I have been craving ever since! So, tonight, I decided to take a stab at it. I have to say, it was not as refined as Monsieur Boulud's, but daaaaaaamn it was tasty and flavorful! And best of all, the combination of hearty mushrooms and the chewy fava bean meant that it felt like an entree and was very hearty and satisfying!!

I have to admit I haven't done much fava bean eating before this.  Perhaps it was the challenge of not knowing how to get the little pods out, or maybe it was a leftover childhood impression of them being grainy, chewy, and bland. But no more! Follow the easy steps below to get your beans, and then cook away!

Prepare Fava Beans as follows:

1. Along the back of the bean, there will be a string spine. Pull it down to "unzip" the pod.

2.  You will notice immediately that the pods have a thick outer shell that still needs to be removed.

3. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Put the beans in to boil for approximately 30 seconds.

 4. Remove the beans and rinse or submerge in cold water. This will stop the cooking process. Set on a cutting board, and by pinching the end , the inner pod will squeeze out. This is quite fun.


5. Et Voila, You have fava beans, ready to eat or cook!

                                        Fava beans & Seared Mushrooms with CousCous

Fava beans, prepared as above
A mix of mushrooms, such as baby bella, portobello, shitake, etc.
olive oil
white wine (I like vino verde... never cook with wine you won't drink!)
fresh herbs such as sage, parsley, and rosemary, chopped
5 medium size cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper
Squeeze of lemon
1 package of couscous, prepared according to directions on box

1. Over medium heat, melt between 1/4 and 1/2 stick of butter. Let garlic and shallots sweat, turning translucent. Don't allow to brown or burn. Stir and lower heat. Add in herbs and a bit of olive oil, and crush the herbs into the oil/butter mixture.

2. Turn the heat all the way up to high and add in the mushrooms. Sear, allowing to brown and reduce. Lower heat back down to medium, and add in white wine, enough to cover the mushrooms, and allow to cook off.

3. Add in fava beans and stock and allow to cook for a few more minutes. Squeeze lemon on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and taste to adjust flavors. If you used less butter in the beginning, you may want to "monter au beurre"- or allow a small amount of butter to melt over the dish at the end. Serve over the couscous and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hatch Chile Fajita Tacos and Avocado Salad

One exciting culinary event in Texas each year is the arrival of hatch chiles from the neighboring state of New Mexico. Only available for a few weeks every August, these regional specialties have an awesome flavor and range from mild to spicy, about the same heat as a jalapeno, but with a less acidic and biting flavor. TO celebrate, they are baked in corn bread, diced into marinades, and in this recipe, sauteed with onion and bell pepper to make a fajita filling for a soft taco! (For the rest of the year, or those living outside the southwest region, poblanos can substitute).

1 medium hatch chile
1 hot hatch chile
bell pepper
salt and pepper
chili powder
beer or tequila
flour or corn tortillas
shredded cheddar cheese
black beans and corn
sour cream (optional)

Slice the vegetables into thin strips. In a wide pan, saute, and season with the spices. Add in some beer (any kind will do, we used negro modelo). Continue to stir, being careful to not let the onions burn.

Heat the tortillas and top the tacos with the fajita vegetables, black beans, corn, cilantro, cheese, and sour cream.

On the side, I like to make spanish rice and an avocado salad:

Ripe avocado
1-2 small tomatoes
salt and pepper
olive oil

Cut up the avocado and tomatoes. Squeeze on lime, and season with cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Top with a small amount of the olive oil, stir, and serve!

For the salad:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Roasted Figs with Honey and a French Salad

Oh yum! Fresh figs are amazing. Better yet: roasted, and topped with honey... and stuffed with cheese.... and served with a delicious salad....oh my!

5-10 Figs, split into halves
olive oil
salt and pepper
balsamic vinegar
goat, gorgonzola, or ricotta, for filling
pancetta (optional, for those that eat meat)
herbs: thyme or rosemary


1. Split figs in half. Drizzle with olive oil and use hands to rub around the whole fig. Salt and pepper, and splash with balsamic vinegar.
2. Set oven to 325 degrees and bake for 10 minutes, until figs are runny with juice.
3. Turn off oven and top each fig with desired cheese, more pepper, herbs, and drizzle of honey.

For the Salad:

Mixed delicate and bitter Greens (such as endive, radicchio, dandelion, baby spinach, etc)
Strawberries or cherry tomatoes
walnuts (optional)

French Mustard Vinaigrette
Shallot, finely chopped
Red Wine Vinegar, 1-2 capfuls
About 1 tsp of Dijon or Champagne Mustard, Grainy or smooth
salt & pepper
Olive Oil

Whisk the mustard, shallot, and vinegar together in a bowl. Slowly stir in the olive oil. Salt and pepper, taste, and adjust flavors.

Serve the figs with the salad and enjoy!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bean Curd with Bok Choy and Shitake Mushroom

Did you know 'Bean Curd' and tofu are synonymous? It took me a while to realize that this was the same ingredient on many Chinese menus. This is a simple and delicious dish, and the earthy shitake compliments the delicate bok choy. I love using pre-made bases from the weekend in my weeknight meals- hence the red pepper coulis (leftover from making pizzas- and then used again in some eggs... and now finished off here) and the garlic stock (the water was left over from boiled garlic I used in garlic and chive butter).

Bok Choy
Shitake Mushroom, stems removed and lightly washed
carrots, peeled and cut into round
chicken or vegetable stock
water (If you happen to have some garlic stock or mushroom stock, even better)
salt & pepper
Red Pepper Coulis (finely chopped red bell pepper, garlic, and onion, strained)
soy sauce or tamari
olive oil
fresh grated ginger (a thumb-size piece, peeled)
firm tofu, patted dried and cut into pieces


Lay the bok choy on the bottom of a baking pan, making a bed of greens. Top with the tofu, shitake mushroom, and carrot pieces. Pour on the red pepper mixture, then the garlic and chicken stock- enough to fill the baking dish about 1/3 to 1/2 way. Drizzle with olive oil, honey, and soy sauce. Grate ginger on top. Salt and pepper. Stir together, and bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. Great with noodles or jasmine rice!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pasta Primavera

This is an awesome spring and summer dish!! I had some pesto already made (see my recipe here- and threw that into the mix!)

Yellow squash
bell pepper
black pepper and salt
white wine
garlic butter or olive oil
Chicken Stock
spoonful of cooking water from pasta
Pesto (or if not handy, chopped fresh basil, garlic, and shaved pecorino and parm cheese)
Twisty pasta (The shape IS important- you want something with nooks and crannies to catch the sauce) Boiled in salted water, left a little extra al dente

Melt the butter or olive oil in a large saute pan. Put all the veggies in the pan, and stir until soft. Splash with chicken stock and white wine, and allow to cook off. Season. Stir in pasta, splash of cooking water, and the pesto (or the herbs, cheese, and garlic). Stir. If not using prepared pesto, add additional olive oil if need be.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Black Bean Soup

Recently, I've had not one, but two different black bean soups that were fantastic. This one is inspired by a young chef I met on our leadership retreat (where the food was just phenomenal the whole time)- He gave me the idea for cutting down on the cooking time and enhancing the aromatic flavors by making a roux!! Brilliant!!

1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 small red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, split in halves
1 leek or shallot
Generous shake of chili powder
Generous shake ground cumin
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup green or red salsa
salt & black pepper
Half a lime
Sour Cream
chopped fresh cilantro
Chopped avocado and radish
tortilla chips

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Turn down, add onion, leeks and garlic and cook slowly, stirring, until fragrant and translucent. Add in handful of cilantro and cook into the aromatics and oil, crushing until soft and fragrant. Sprinkle lightly with flour and stir to thicken into a roux.

Meanwhile, Mash half the black beans in a bowl and set aside.

Season with chili powder, salt and pepper, cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add stock, whole and mashed beans, salsa and lime.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer.

Transfer half the soup to a blender and puree or use a hand blender to puree slightly (use caution when pureeing hot liquids). Stir the puree back into the pot. Serve garnished with sour cream, radish, avocado, tortilla chips, and cilantro, if desired.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Baked Tofu with Peanut Sauce

I love, love, love peanut sauce. But since I quit eating chikinz, I need to get my own satay on! This recipe is so simple to throw together, and you can add in or leave out the spice- I made it for my one year old niece and nephew, sans heat, and it was a big hit with the grownups and toddlers, too!

3/4 cup water (It will look like more than you think you want, but trust me, it will quickly cook off) (I also sometimes used stock and water in combination)
1/2 cup 'natural' style peanut butter and 1/4 cup roasted nuts (creamy alone is great, but a handful of nuts or a chunky blend adds great texture)
2 Tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 Tsp apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp dried cayenne, shake of red pepper flakes, or 1 small Thai chili pepper or 1-2 tsp red chili paste/sauce (Like Siracha)
Squeeze fresh lime
fresh cilantro, garnish
salt, to taste
tofu, patted dry and cut into cubes or rectangles

In a food processor, blend peanut butter, half the peanuts, garlic, tamari, chili, vinegar, lime and water. Blend together. Stir in the remaining peanuts and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Set the tofu in a baking dish, and pour the mixture on top. Turn and coat the tofu. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Garnish with an additional squeeze of fresh lime and sprinkle of cilantro leaves!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eggplant Romano

I have been wanting to try a non-breaded, non-fried eggplant dish that still captured the deliciousness of the parm, but without *some* of the calories.

1 medium eggplant, peeled, sliced into rounds, salted, rinsed, and patted dry
Romano and Parmesan cheese (shredded or grated)
2-3 fresh romano tomatoes, sliced
fresh basil leaves
Panko or breadcrumbs
Olive oil
tomato sauce
fresh parsley
6 cloves garlic

Peel eggplants, toss with lemon, and salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees when you rinse the eggplants.
Coat bottom of baking dish with layer of tomato sauce.
Place eggplant in pan. Top with slices of tomato, basil and parsley leaves. Sprinkle shallot and garlic cloves around in the sauce.
Sprinkle on cheese, oregano, and breadcrumbs, and top with salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are toasted.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Braised Tofu

After experimenting with several methods, this is by far one of the easiest- and most flavorful!

1 package firm or extra firm tofu
soy sauce
chicken or vegetable stock-
1-2 cloves of garlic
1/2 shallot (optional)
thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and grated
salt and pepper


Preheat to 400 degrees.

Dry the tofu and slice or cube. Set in a baking dish. Sprinkle the garlic, ginger, and shallot around the tofu. Pour in water, stock, soy sauce, wine, and olive oil. The liquid should just be enough to create a shallow bath at the base of the tofu. Turn the cubes over several times to soak in the mixture.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pearled CousCous Salad with Braised Leeks

Let's start with braised leeks. They are a delicious staple in any kitchen. Keep some on hand to stir in with scrambled eggs, or mix with ricotta cheese and stuff into homemade ravioli, or spread the mix on a cracker. Use them in any recipe that calls for shallot or onion. Throw it into some soups. Use on sandwiches with a little mayo. It is an awesome base!! Thanks to Ronna Welsch of Purple Kale Kitchenworks for introducing me to this magical recipe, and the versatility of this delicious veggie!!

Braised Leeks

3-4 large leeks, or more, depending on how big of a batch you'd like
4 tblsp butter
3 tbsp water
1/3 cup white wine
2 tbsp olive oil
herbs: as desired
10 coriander seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 325. Trim leeks to the light green part, and split in half. Clean well to get out all sand and dirt.

Place in a baking dish and top with butter. Add liquid ingredients to dish, and seasoning. Cover with tinfoil, cook about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Pearled CousCous Salad:

1 box prepared pearled couscous
salt and pepper
red or yellow bell pepper
cherry tomato, cut in half
braised leeks
(All veggies optional, mix and match as you please or by what is in your fridge!)


1. Prepare the couscous as directed. Remove from heat, and stir in veggies and braised leeks. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sounds simple, tastes amazing!! The braised leeks act as a dressing, flavoring the whole thing!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Ranchero Enchiladas

I love enchiladas. This is my latest- and my first take on a red sauce. Love the contrast of the black beans and the creamy sweet potato (THANK YOU KRISTEN FOR THE TIP TO PUREE THEM!!). Also, the combination of salty, spicy, sweet, and smokey! It is a bit of a beast to make, I just can't get the same flavors when I take short cuts, especially on steps like sweating the garlic and onions. I'd love for recipes in real cookbooks to be like mine, where they admit that it takes FOREVER to cook them down, if you want them to be truly tasty. Just saying.

1 28-oz. can tomato sauce
2 ancho chiles in adobo sauce
handful of cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/2 white onion, or shallot
Shake chili powder
Shake dried oregano
Shake chipotle chile powder
shake cumin
salt & pepper to taste
(If I have a jalepeno lying around next time, or a green chile, I might add that too)

1 ½ lb. sweet potatoes, Roasted & Pureed, set aside
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)- or a shallots and onion combo
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes (I use muir glen with smoked tomato and green chiles in it)
3 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
1 or 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, drained and minced
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
handful of cilantro
1 12-oz. round queso fresco, divided
Squeeze of lime
generous shakes of cumin and chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

lime wedges for garnish
1 avocado, sliced for garnish
½ cup sour cream, for garnish
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

1. Roast the Sweet Potatoes at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, until they are so soft the skin scrapes away easily.

2. Meanwhile, start sweating the onions and garlic for the filling in a small amount of olive oil on the stove. If they begin to burn, add some veg or chicken stock.

3. While the sweet potatoes roast and the onions cook down, make the sauce in a cuisinart. Puree, taste, and adjust seasonings and heat. Reserve in a bowl.

4. Once the garlic and onions cook down, add the tomatoes, chipotle chile, cilantro, and simmer. Add black beans, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in half of queso fresco, and remove from heat.

5. Puree the sweet potatoes and set aside.

3. To assemble Enchiladas: Turn oven down to 350ºF. Spread 1/2 cup of Sauce in bottom of baking dish. Fill tortillas with Filling. Roll, and pack close together seam-side down in baking dish. Top with remaining Sauce and leaves of cilantro, and bake 25 minutes. Sprinkle with queso fresco and bake 5-10 minutes more, until cheese melts.

4. Adjust oven to broil. Broil Enchiladas 2-5 minutes, or until cheese is browned and bubbly. Be careful not to burn! Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with lime wedges, avocado slices, sour cream, and cilantro sprigs, if using.

I served this with a side salad of spinach.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Roast Eggplants with Lemon and Thyme

Delicious and beautiful!

Baby italian eggplants, rinsed and split in half with stem in tact
1-2 large shallots
3 large cloves of garlic
olive oil
salt & pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Use your hands to coat the eggplants with the olive oil. Place in a baking dish and surround with the garlic, mushrooms, and shallots. Sprinkle with the thyme, lemon, and salt and pepper.

3. Roast for about 40 minutes, until the flesh easily pulls away from the eggplant.

4. Scoop out and eat as a side or add to pasta!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Stuffed Portabello Mushroom with Couscous

(Photo: Veg Times)

Another excellent recipe adapted from the Vegetarian Times!


2 large portobello mushrooms per person, stemmed
2-3 shallots (or leeks, or any other type of onion), thinly sliced
4-6 cloves garlic
Tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme
1 bag of Baby Spinach
Goat Cheese
Pine nuts
olive oil
salt and pepper
couscous (or Farro)


1. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Rub olive oil over the mushrooms and place on a baking sheet, gill side down. Roast 10 minutes, until mushrooms begin to soften, and then turn over.

2. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Sweat the garlic and
shallots or leeks slowly, until tender and translucent. Add in the thyme and continue to cook until the leaves soften into the oil. Add in handfuls of spinach and allow to wilt. Season with lemon, salt, and pepper.

3. Stir in goat cheese and pine nuts until the cheese melts. Fill mushrooms with mixture, mounding on top and packing filling down. Optional: top with breadcrumbs

4. Bake 25 minutes until filling browns.

5. Prepare couscous or farro according to the directions.

6. Prepare a green veggie side like asparagus or green beans, if desired.

7. To serve: spoon couscous or farro onto plate, and top with a mushroom and side of green veggies!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dill Dip

Fresh Dill- Several generous handfuls
3 cloves poached garlic
salt and pepper- lots of pepper
1 shallot
small container greek yogurt
tablespoon mayo
1-2 tablespoons sour cream (if desired)
celery and other veggies, cut for dipping

I love cooking things that take only a handful of ingredients and a few minutes in the kitchen, and taste great! This recipe is one of those gems that I can whip up after work for an awesome snack.

Poached garlic:
I recommend poached garlic, rather than raw, to take some of the bite out, but leave the flavor. For the same reason, I prefer shallot to raw onion. To poach the garlic, peel and boil for about 10 minutes. I like to do large batches of this and leave it in the fridge, as well as mix it into butter and mayonnaise. I use it all the time!! Since the garlic will now be soft and mushy, I can spread it on toast, smash it in the bottom of a pan before I saute green beans or garlic, or mix it into mashed potato.

Anyway, to make the dip:

In a food processor, scoop in the yogurt, the mayo and/or sour cream, throw in the garlic, roughly chopped shallot, the dill, and season. Blend, taste, and adjust.

Cut up radish, celery, carrot, etc, and eat! The best part: If you are using lowfat yogurt and only small amounts of mayo and sour cream, this is actually a super healthy, low fat dish!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Black Sesame Noodles

Tonight I wanted to try a recipe from my newest cookbook: A Year In a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop (Thanks Stacey & Austin for introducing us!). So I decided to try to make Black Sesame Noodles. It was deeeee-licious. Not too many changes, but a few Lora Dever touches here and there...!

Black Sesame Sauce
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
2 medium garlic cloves
1 tablespoon grated fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup hot water
1/8 cup tamari (or 1/4 cup soy)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

For Pasta:
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and grated through a box grater
1-2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
3-4 medium radishes, grated
Diced red pepper
chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds (reserved from 1/4 cup, above)


1. For pasta: Bring water to a boil in a large pot and salt generously

2. For the sauce: toast the seeds for a few minutes over medium heat, stirring, careful not to burn. Reserve 1 teaspoon of the seeds. Pour all the sauce ingredients into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.

3. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and toss with the sesame sauce. Add cucumber, carrot, pepper, and radish. Salt, and top with reserved sesame seeds and cilantro.

I used the extra sauce for baked tofu, which made for an excellent marinade!!! Ryan paired it with some pork dumplings from a local chinese restaurant, also a super tasty idea!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Anniversary: 2 years of Green Eating!

I wanted to take a moment to celebrate my 2nd anniversary of veggie-dom! It's been a pretty awesome year, with lots of new delicious veggie recipes making their way onto the blog, and mastering nutrition in the dead of winter. I can't believe my one month experiment has turned into such a comfortable lifestyle, but the more I know, the more I stand by my decision! It's been perhaps a strange coincidence that since I turned veg, I've made four really close friends who are veggies too, and some days it seems like we will soon rule the world.

Even Ryan, initially the most meat-and-potatoes-man on earth, now eats veg 3-4 nights a week. Perhaps he's just gotten lazy. Maybe it has to do with our grill running out of gas. But I think the cute baby pig argument is also finally getting to him. Big Softee.

Even my family seems to be trending toward 'less meat', and kudos to them. Who needs to eat adorable farm animals anyway!?!

Can't wait to try some more recipes in year 3... ! Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

This recipe is from my dad and stepmom, vis a vis Martha Stewart. I've made almost no changes- except to perhaps shake slightly more cumin on top, and leave some seeds in to kick up the spice. I've also paired it with a nice salad. Oh yes, and heed the warning below!!

1 can(s) (28-ounce) whole tomatoes in puree
1 jalapeño chile, seeds in for heat, seeds out for a little less
2 small onions, chopped
3 clove(s) garlic, 2 whole, 1 minced
Coarse salt
Ground pepper
1 can(s) (19-ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup(s) yellow cornmeal
1 cup(s) shredded pepper Jack cheese
A really good shake of ground cumin
Handful of Cilantro leaves, garnish
sour cream, garnish, optional
4 large poblano chiles, halved lengthwise, stems left intact (for pretty, if you want), ribs and seeds removed

**** DO NOT TOUCH PEPPERS WITH YOUR HANDS --- YOU WILL DIE***** NO, REALLY. Put on gloves, or use sandwich bags- try not to touch the seeds. No amount of scrubbing will get the burn off your fingers- and then you will touch your eye, or nose, or mouth... and no bueno. You have been warned!


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a blender, combine tomatoes in puree, jalapeño, half the onions, and 2 whole garlic cloves; puree. Season with salt.

Pour 3/4 of the sauce into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine beans, cornmeal, 1/2 cup cheese, remaining onions, minced garlic, cumin, and 3/4 cup water; season with salt and pepper.

Dividing evenly, stuff poblano halves with bean mixture; place on top of sauce in baking dish.

Sprinkle poblanos with remaining 1/2 cup cheese; cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake until poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes.

Uncover, and continue to cook until sauce is thickened slightly and cheese is browned, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes.

Garnish as desired and serve with yellow rice and avocado or mixed green salad with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Baked Haddock

Ryan and I loved the flaky, tasty, and light piece of fish this recipe created. But we didn't love the way our house smelled afterwards. I'd recommend making it on a day with the windows open, OR, as I discovered, have a batch of brownies ready to go in the oven to clear the air!!

3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground dried thyme
1-2 haddock fillets
1/4 cup butter, melted


Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).
In a small bowl, combine the milk and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and thyme. Dip the haddock fillets in the milk, then press into the crumb mixture to coat. Place haddock fillets in a glass baking dish, and drizzle with melted butter.
Bake on the top rack of the preheated oven until the fish flakes easily, about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Linguine with Sage-Walnut Butter and Herbed Ricotta

The best meals in our house start with really inspiring raw ingredients. And this dish was born from opening the fridge and going: oh my god, how do I get that into my mouth??? and... I want to eat that- Right now! I also have to say, it is one of the few dishes that is truly an amalgam recipe- it is partly based on a recipe from the cookbook 'A Year in the Vegetarian Kitchen', partly based on a recipe from the internet- and partly based on my own sense of what would be tasty.

1 1/2 cups fresh, not that polly-o shiz, real-deal Ricotta
3/4 box Linguine (or make your own... that would be excellent)
Rosemary, chopped
Basil Leave
Sage Leaves, chopped
Parsley, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese
carmelized onions (if you have some lying around... as I was lucky enough to!) or a shallot
garlic- a few cloves (poached, or raw)
1/2 stick butter
chopped walnuts


1. Drain the ricotta in a sieve in the sink. Let sit for a while.

2. Prep every fresh herb you can find in your kitchen- I think I omitted the basil, but added chive, and thyme to the mix- and chop them as finely as you can. Mix the herbs into the ricotta cheese, and salt and pepper the cheese to taste. Grate some parmesan cheese into the ricotta, and mix in. Set aside. Try not to eat all of it while you cook. Save a few sage leaves for later.

3. Put the water for the pasta on to boil. Salt it well.

4. While the pasta water boils, either smash the poached garlic in the bottom of a skillet with some olive oil, OR sweat the raw shallot and garlic over low heat in the olive oil for as long as you can stand it, and until they are very fragrant and translucent.

5. Then, melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat. When the butter is fragrant, add the remaining sage and walnuts to the butter, and continue cooking it until it smells incredible. Splash some lemon on it.

6. Drain the pasta, reserving the water. Add the pasta to the skillet with the butter sauce, adding some pasta water to moisten as needed, and stir to coat. If using carmelized onion, mix those in at the last minute. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

7. Serve the pasta in the sauce with a large dollop of the herbed ricotta on top.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pasta Class!

In my journey to make everything from scratch, handmade pasta was my next step. And the lovely and fantastic Ronna Welsh of Purple Kale Kitchenworks was on hand last Saturday- along with our good friends, Kristen and Craig, to show us how it's done.

#1: Making the dough
Ronna introduced us to italian Double 00 flour- which creates a better texture than traditional 'all purpose'.

Ingredients: 2 1/4 cups of flour and 3 large eggs.

The Technique:

On a dry, lightly floured cutting board, scoop (do not pack down the flour or shake to settle- it's all good to let it stay fluffy in the cup) the flour into the center. Make a well with nice high walls and crack the eggs into the middle.

Begin to slowly and lightly beat the eggs, and then start to incorporate the flour into the egg. Continue to do this until the dough is just barely a solid, and then abandon the fork and finish adding in the flour by hand, using a kneading motion. Ronna explains this as using the palm, rather than fingers, and a press, followed by a pick up and turn. Once the flour is no longer combining with the egg, scrape all the remaining flour off the cutting board as well as your hands- this will not incorporate into the ball and will ruin the texture- and then get ready to work hard- kneading !!

#2:Knead the dough

This is about a 10 minute process. Lightly flour the surface and your hands, and continue with the same kneading motion used above. Ronna recommended adding a lunge into it- but prepare for a workout, no matter how you approach it. Keep kneading until the dough is soft and workable!!

Rest the dough
Wrap the dough in saran wrap and set aside for 30-60 minutes and use this time to make some fillings and prep ingredients for sauces and sides.

Fillings & Sauces:

We made several delicious fillings- braised leeks, carmelized onion, seared trumpet mushroom, fresh ricotta, and poached garlic. We also reduced some heavy cream in preparation for a cream sauce.

In the future I'd love to try some sauteed spinach and ricotta, or beets for fillings, but really, the possibilities are endless!!

Stretch the dough

When you're ready, it's time to stretch the dough. This is where a little hand-crank pasta machine is going to come in handy. According to Dean & Deluca and Vecchia Nonnas everywhere, it is possible to keep on by hand and use a rolling pin, but the machine helps to process the batches a bit more quickly- once Kristen & I got the hang of it, we were able to process the whole batch in about 20 minutes.

Begin by using the rolling pin to flatten out the ball into a round. Cut it into 4 pieces, wrap 3 of them tightly in saran wrap. Begin by folding the first piece into 3 parts, like an envelope, and pass it through the machine at least 3 times on the widest setting.

Then, pass the piece through two times on each setting, from 1-6. Then repeat the process, folding it back into an envelope and starting on setting 2 or 3, and passing it through once per setting. Once it is silky smooth to the touch, you are ready to make some pasta!! Wrap the pressed pasta if not cutting immediately into shapes.

Make Pasta!

We used cookie cutters to create raviolis, and we pinched pockets for tortellini, too.

Craig was the master pasta-maker, making tortellini's like he was born to do it, and cutting pappardelle ribbons by hand!

We finished the pasta in a braised leek and butter sauce and sampled our creation!

A very busy, delicious, and productive day!!