Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Summery Citrus Black Bean Salad!

Summery Citrus Black Bean Salad!    

I've come to the conclusion that here in New England the weather is finicky and unpredictable. That's why on this day in May it is rainy and cool, even though my mind and body is telling me that it should be sunny and at least 65, if not 70.... alas there are things in this life I can not control, and the weather is most certainly one of them.
    But I can try my best to convince myself that it's almost summer with this Summery Citrus Black Bean Salad. I make a lot of variations on this salad depending on what I've got in the fridge. Don't have scallions? No worries, try some red onion! Hate cilantro? Try some parsley! This is a great dish, because it's so versatile. You can have it stuffed into a pita, as an accompaniment to some tortilla chips, as a side with a burger, or simply by it's lonesome with a spoon.
    This is a tasty tex-mex inspired salad full of texture, and flavor. It's got some freshness from the lime, and cilantro, sweetness from the orange, spicy from the jalepeno,  smokeyness from the roasted corn, and all around deliciousness from the avocado. Not to mention that it's full of protein, and iron from the yummy black beans, and lots of fiber from the veggies.
    Get goin' and make some of this yummy salad, wether you just want to pretend it's summer, or you're looking for a light meal to get ready for those summer clothes, it's tasty no matter what.

Summery Citrus Black Bean Salad

2 cans Black Beans, rinsed and drained well
1 red bell pepper, diced small
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
4 scallions, chopped thinly on a bias
1 cup Trader Joe's Roasted Corn, thawed (plain corn is fine as well)
1 jalepeno, seeds and ribs removed, chopped fine
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 avocado, cut in chunks

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 1/2 of 1 orange)
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
a few dashes hot sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Place the black beans, red bell pepper, carrots, scallions, corn, jalepeno, and cilantro in a large bowl. Mix lightly to combine. Set aside

In a 2 cup glass liquid measuring cup, add the lime juice, orange juice, red wine vinegar, dijon, hot sauce, salt, and pepper, whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking, to combine.

Add about half of the vinaigrette to the black bean mixture. Stir to combine. Add the avocado, stir carefully so that you don't break up the avocado pieces. Taste to see if you'd like to add more vinaigrette. I think I added an extra 1/4 cup. About 3/4 cup of dressing total. But see what you like!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Vegan Lemongrass-Lemon Bars, with Coconut Shortbread Crust!

Vegan Lemongrass-Lemon Bars, with Coconut Shortbread Crust!

    This weekend I had the pleasure of hosting dinner for my besties parents on their very first visit to the fine state of Massachusetts. I have spent many a night an their house back home in Long Island, enjoying lots of yummy eats, and drinking plenty of wine. I knew that our night at my place would be no different.
    I was informed that I was to be the chef of the night (naturally), and they would be providing the ingredients for a wonderful dinner. Of course I felt the need to put my touch on the meal by making some sort of bangin' dessert. So while my bestie and her boyfriend took the parents on a scenic drive of the north shore of Massachusetts, I set out to devise the perfect dessert.
    I wanted something unique, not too heavy, not super rich, not too weird, and not messy. Then I remembered that I had seen a recipe in Bon Appetite for Lemongrass Bars with Coconut Shortbread Crust, and I knew that I had found my recipe!
    Now here's where it gets complicated. The recipe in Bon Appetite was for a traditional egg based filling, and my bud is quite put off by eggs in her food. So I began the challenge of veganizing a recipe that relies very much on eggs.
    Luckily I have made the vegan Lemon Bars recipe from Isa Moskowitz's book Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, so I knew that a vegan lemon topping was possible, and very yummy! My recipe is based on her recipe with a few subtle differences, plus the delicious, and unique addition of lemongrass.
    Anyways, a delicious dinner of fresh swordfish, scallops (or scollops as the New England natives say), haddock, grilled veggies, and mashed sweet potatoes was enjoyed by all. It was washed down with a healthy six bottles of wine, and ended with these totally delicious Lemongrass-Lemon Bars with Coconut Shortbread Crust! A wonderful night indeed!
Vegan Lemongrass-Lemon Bars, with Coconut Shortbread Crust

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)

3 Tablespoons agar agar flakes
1 1/3 cups water
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 lemongrass stalks, bottom 4 inches only, tough outer layer removed, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup soy milk

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13x9-inch baking pan.
     Using an electric mixer, beat flour, coconut, powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl until well blended, 30 seconds. Add butter, beat on low speed until moist clumps form. Press dough onto bottom of the prepared baking pan, with slightly raised sides to hold the filling. Bake crust until golden, about 25 minutes. Remove, and let cool completely.
     In a sauce pot, soak the agar agar in the water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, squeeze your lemon juice. Mix the arrowroot powder into the lemon juice to dissolve.
     Meanwhile, pour the sugar, and lemongrass into a food processor and pulse until the lemongrass is finely ground, about 1 minute. Set aside.
     When the agar agar has been soaking for 15 minutes, turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, or until the agar agar is completely dissolved. Add the sugar/lemongrass mixture, and the turmeric and boil until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and add the arrowroot powder mixture, then add the soy milk. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. It should not be rapidly boiling, but a low bubbling is okay.
     Pour the mixture into the prepared crust, let it cool for 20 minutes, and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until the filling is only slightly jiggly and set. Slice into squares. Use a sifter, or fine mesh strainer to sprinkle the bars with powdered sugar just before serving. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time to eat your veggies! Lemon Tahini Dressing

Time to eat your veggies! Lemon Tahini Dressing   

    As we all have noticed, summer is nearing... it might not feel that close yet, but trust me it will be here before we all know it. With the glorious warmth of summer also comes the impending doom of looking cute in summer clothes. Pretty sun dresses, short shorts, skimpy tanks, bathing suits, flippy floppys, they are all on their way my friends. As usual, the race to loose that extra winter "padding" is on in my house. Even my boyfriend is in on the weight loss bandwagon, though I'm sure he's not trying to fit into any skimpy tank tops.... at least I hope not.
    As I've tried every diet out there, it's time for something new; the raw diet. Starting Monday, I have been eating raw vegan for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, then eat my normal dinner (though I'm trying to keep light on the starches). My bestie has been doing raw until dinner for a little bit, and is loving the way she feels, and I think her skin looks great; so I figured why not?
    Anyways, she came over for a little dinner the other day and brought this yummy tahini dressing. The original recipe was lacking a little freshness, so I boosted it up by adding more lemon juice, and a little parsley. It is a middle eastern tasting dressing with a nice silky consistency that would go good on anything from falafel, to a basic salad. We had it drizzled over a nice home made veggie burger, and side salad. So go ahead and start lightening up your life and get ready for summer, this dressing will make you want to eat your veggies.

Lemon Tahini Dressing

Small handful fresh parsley
1/2 cup roasted, or raw tahini
1/2 cup filtered water
3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until everything is combined, garlic is broken down, and parsley is in small flecks.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I'm back! Quinoa and Spring Vegetable Pilaf

I'm back! Quinoa and Spring Vegetable Pilaf
     Yeah, I know, it's been a while.... Please don't be mad, the month of March was just so busy! On a whim my boyfriend and I decided to treat ourselves to a trip to San Francisco, California. We went for about a week, and ate our way around the city... but more on that in a blogpost to come. Unfortunately for my blog, and my readers, this one week trip affected my blogging/eating habits for roughly three weeks.
    You see, I spent the week prior to the trip trying to haphazardly put together meals out of the randomness that was the contents of my refrigerator. Because we all know there's nothing worse than coming home to a fridge full of moldy, rotted food.
    The week of the trip was spent eating every meal out, which I have a love/hate relationship with doing. I love eating delicious food at new places, but kind of hate the way my body feels after eating a lot of restaurant food. Plus when I'm on vacation, I'm not really thinking too hard about the calories/fiber/fat/sugar/protein I'm putting into my body, so I obviously get the most delicious thing I can find on the menu. Regardless I took many, many photos (roughly 800), and will soon be posting about my experience eating my way around San Francisco.
    The week following the trip was spent being exhausted, and wanting nothing but sleep. As far as I was concerned cooking could go to hell, I just wanted PJ's, a couch, and a TV remote. The jet lag killed me, and I was seriously pooped.
    Now I am BACK. I feel good, the weather is getting better, and I'm ready for some fresh produce, and a maybe a new camera soon (I love you Dad!).

    OK, now that that's been said, on to the food! This Quinoa and Spring Vegetable Pilaf is a lovely little dish if you're into all things green like me. I will give a disclaimer though, it is not a dish everyone I served it to loved... coughmyboyfriendhateditcoughsneeze. But hey, you win some, you loose some, and I liked it so this dish is cool with me.
     This is a dish from the "Fresh, Easy, Fast" section in this months Bon Appetite. In case you haven't tried quinoa before, it's a grain with a similar texture to couscous. It is also a "complete protein", which is not too easy to come by in the vegetarian diet, and "complete proteins" can be almost impossible to come by when eating vegan. This dish also takes advantage of the yummy spring vegetables becoming more available day by day up here in New England. So if you're trying to get out of your winter funk, lighten up your food choices, and take advantage of spring, try this dish out, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Quinoa and Spring Vegetable Pilaf
4 Servings
461 Calories
14g Fat
22g Fiber

1 1/2 cups quinoa, well rinsed
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups frozen petite peas, thawed, divided
5 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves, divided
1 clove garlic, peeled
 3 tablespoons, butter
1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), halved, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup shallots
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thickly sliced
1 14oz. bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces

     Bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil in small saucepan. Add quinoa and 1 teaspoon salt; return to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed, 15-17 minutes. Drain if necessary.
     Puree broth, 1 cup peas, 4 tablespoons mint, and garlic in blender until smooth.
     Melt butter in large high walled nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leek and shallots; saute until soft and light brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, then asparagus; saute until mushrooms are tender and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in puree and 1 cup peas; stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add quinoa; stir to coat.
     Divide pilaf among bowls; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon mint and serve.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Best Tofu Sandwich EVER! Smoky Miso Tofu Sammiches!

Best Tofu Sandwich EVER! Smoky Miso Tofu Sammiches!

     Seriously. These are the best vegetarian sandwiches ever. For reals. The marinade is to die for, and has all my favorite flavor combinations; smoky, sweet, savory, salty, what more could you ask for? Oh yeah, GREAT texture! Pressing the tofu gets rid of all that unnecessary water, makes room to soak up all that delicious marinade, and makes the tofu nice and firm! I also slice the tofu fairly thin, which really allows the marinade to get IN the tofu. Notice the color of the tofu? That's the marinade in there! No spongy, flavorless tofu here!
     I had a few of my fabulous omnivorous friends over for a simple dinner of this Smoky Miso Tofu, on some lovely toasted Sourdough bread, with thinly sliced tomato, avocado, and peppery wild arugula. On the side we had baked kale chips (will definitely be doing a post on those soon, because hunnie they were a HIT), and some store bought Terra chips, and homemade Tzatziki. All that plus a giant bottle of wine, and a wonderful night of good eatin' and drinkin' was had by all. As a bonus I made a double batch of the tofu and had extras to make sammy's for a few day's to come. HECK YES. Thank you VeganYumYum for this amazing tofu!

Smoky Miso Tofu

1 Block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
3 Tablespoons red miso
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon Liquid Smoke

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wrap your drained tofu in a bunch of paper towels, and place something heavy, like a cast-iron skillet or a plate with some cans on top, for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large casserole dish, or similar large shallow dish,  whisk together the miso, lemon juice, sugar, soy sauce, yeast, and liquid smoke to make the marinade.

Unwrap the tofu and cut many thin, width-wise slices with a large knife (about 20 slices per block).

Place the tofu in the marinade, making sure to get marinade on both sides of each slice. Let marinate about 10-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with some parchment paper (I've tried with aluminum foil, but had some sticking).

When ready to bake, place the slices on the parchment lined baking sheet in one layer. Brush the tops with any leftover marinade. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let the slices cool on the sheet. The tofu should be darkened around the edges, but not burned.

To make a sandwich using the tofu slices, use whatever ingredients you like. I liked sourdough bread, arugula, tomato, avocado, and some mayo....

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Better For You" Kids Classic: Tempeh Helper

"Better For You" Kid's Classic: Tempeh Helper

     I love a man who loves to eat junk. Without me he would eat frozen chicken nuggets, shoestring french fries, and cheeseburgers all day, every day. As much as he wants junk all the time, he is a champ as a vegetarians boyfriend. He willingly, and happily eats whatever veggie, fake meat, fake cheese concoction I throw at him. So when he asks for a classically junky meal like Hamburger Helper, or Sloppy Joe's, I try my best to appease him. Plus every once in a while I need to feel like I'm getting away with eating something really bad for me.

     This Tempeh Helper recipe from Appetite for Reduction lets you feel like your getting away with something, while actually being light in calories. I don't know how experienced you are with tempeh, but I am a tempeh novice, I think this is only my second time working with it. I wasn't super impressed by it the first time, but it's been quite a while since that first experience, and I wanted to give it another shot. I'm pretty happy that I did. It's nutty and slightly chewy.... try it, you might like it! It breaks up pretty small in this recipe, kind of the way ground meat does in regular Hamburger Helper, so it work's pretty nicely. I might try it with some Boca brand Burger Crumbles next time for something a little more authentic. So no longer do you have to stir in the mysterious "spice packet", you can make your own. Go ahead make yourself some home made "helper", you'll love it!

Tempeh Helper
Serves 2-4
1/4 recipe has 310 Calories

1 recipe Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon olive oil
8 ounces tempeh
3 cups water
1 cup small shell whole wheat pasta
1/4 cup frozen peas

Seasoning Mix:
2 teaspoons onion flakes
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons broth powder (Use Frontier chicken-style broth, I found it in the bulk spices section of my Whole Foods)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Salt to taste

Preheat a large skillet (that has a lid) over medium heat.

Drizzle the oil in the pan, tear the tempeh into bite size pieces, adding them to the pan. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the tempeh is lightly browned. Use cooking spray as needed. In the meantime, mix the seasonings together in a mixing bowl.

Add a few tablespoons of water to the tempeh to deglaze the pan. Add the 3 ups of water and the seasoning mixture, giving a good stir to get it all mixd in. Add the pasta nad cover. Bring up the heat to a boil. Once the water is boiling, you can lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once. Remove the lid, add the peas, and cook until the sauce is reduced and thickened to your liking, usually about 3 minutes. Taste for salt and serve with Cheezy Sauce.

Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce
Makes 2 cups, 8- 1/4 cup servings
45 calories per serving

3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons onion flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons broth powder (Use Frontier chicken-style broth, I found it in the bulk spices section of my Whole Foods)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

Place the nutritional yeast, flour, garlic, onion flakes, salt, turmeric, and broth powder in a bowl and mix together. Add the water and use a fork to mix and beat out any big lumps. Once relatively smooth, pour into a 2-quart sauce pot. Turn up the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes. Once it comes to a boil, bring down the heat to a simmer. The sauce should start bubbling and thickening. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly, until it has a thick, smooth, melted cheese consistency.
Mix in the mustard and taste for salt. Serve hot or warm over the Tempeh Helper, or even steamed broccoli.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lentil Eggplant Chili Mole, with Roasted Corn Scallion Corn Bread

Eggplant Lentil Chili Mole, with Roasted Corn Scallion Corn Bread

Lookin' for a warm comforting dinner, without all the guilt? This is the chili for you! The use of eggplant in here really adds substance, and meatiness, without adding any heaviness. The cocoa powder adds complexity and a great lusciousness I haven't experienced in chili before. Genius! Why haven't I done this before?!? I think I might start putting cocoa powder in everything.... or not. But maybe...You might want to up the flavor punch with some adding additional chili powder, and cocoa powder, I found that I needed some extra somethin' somethin'.
     The Roasted Corn Scallion Corn bread is darn tasty as well. Super easy to throw together, and has no refined sugar. AWESOME. Feel free to substitute corn off the cob if it's in season, or just plain thawed frozen corn. Another solid recipe from Appetite for Reduction.

Lentil Eggplant Chili Mole

Serves 6
220 calories per serving

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, cut into medium dice
1 red bell pepper, cut into medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup dried green lentils, washed
4 cups vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 pounds eggplant, cut int 3/4 inch cubes
2 teaspoons agave nectar
Sour cream, chives, scallions, cilantro for garnish

     Preheat a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions and bell pepper in the oil until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute, using nonstick cooking spray or a splash of water if it's sticking. Mix in the chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Add 1/2 cup of the veggie broth and the cocoa powder, and cook for about 1 more minute while stirring to dissolve the cocoa.
     Add the lentils, remaining veggie broth, diced tomatoes, and eggplant. Mix to combine. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it's boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender and the eggplant is soft. Mix in the agave. Taste for salt and seasoning, you might want to add some more chili powder, and cocoa powder for some extra punch.
     Let the chili sit for 10 minutes or so for maximum flavor.

Roasted Corn and Scallion Corn Bread
Serves 8
160 calories per serving

1 cup soy milk, or other nondairy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup fine ground cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons agave syrup, or pure maple syrup
1 cup frozen roasted corn, thawed (I use Trader Joe's Brand)
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray an 8-inch square metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
     In a measuring cup, whisk together the milk and the vinegar, and set aside.
     In a large bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Create a well in the center and add the almond milk, agave, and oil. Mix just until combined. Fold in the corn and scallions.
     Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 28-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Slice and serve warm, or store in an airtight container.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Winter Essential: Comfy Vegetable Soup

Winter Essential: Comfy Vegetable Soup

     This is my go-to soup. I have all of the ingredients for this soup almost all the time. If you're a crazy veggie eater like me, I'm sure you do too; making this a cheap, flavorful, fast, healthy dinner for an army.  This is one of those chop-n-drop soups; just chop all those veggies drop them in the pot, and voila; delicious, filling, hearty soup! You can substitute veggies you have on hand, and exclude anything you might not.  I like to make this soup on a Sunday, so that I have lunch for the week, or freeze it in individual containers for a quick dinner.

Comfy Vegetable Soup

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 cups carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 leek, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers
4 cups water*
2 vegetable bouillon cubes*
4 cups (one box) vegetable stock
Parmesan Rind (optional)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups small red potatoes, diced
2 cups packed greens (kale, chard, collards, etc.), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup frozen corn
1 can cannellini beans (you could also use navy, or kidney beans)
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste

     Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and leek. Saute until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute.
     Add the sage, oregano, rosemary, water, bouillon, veggie stock, parmesan rind, tomato paste, stir well, and increase heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling, add potatoes, and lower heat to simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. 
     Add the greens, corn, beans, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Adjust the seasonings to taste and cook until the greens are wilted, and the corn and beans are heated through.

* You could also substitute another box of stock in place of the bouillon, OR use all bouillon (ratio 1 bouillon cube to 2 cups water).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Autumn Root Salad with Warm Maple Fig Dressing

Autumn Root Salad with Warm Maple Fig Dressing
This is a very pretty salad, with some substance. This was my first time roasting beets; I usually get them already cooked and peeled from Trader Joe's, and if you're in a pinch they'll do, but roasting them your self really pays off in freshness and flavor. The beets, potatoes, and sweet potatoes really play off each other really nicely. The dressing is definitely for those who like things on the sweeter side, if you want to cut the sweetness you could reduce the amount of maple syrup. This is a good salad to entertain with, just make the beets, and potatoes the day before. Another tasty recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Veganomicon.

3 small loose beets
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled
3 small purple potatoes, peeled
A little olive oil
About 6 cups of field greens


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup shallots, chopped coarsely
1 cup chopped dried mission figs
1/4 cup white cooking wine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar (regular is okay too)

Prepare the beets:

     Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the beets well and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast until tender, about 75-80 minutes. To make sure they're ready, unwrap one slice through the beet with no problem. Unwrap the beets and let them sit until cool to the touch, then refrigerate. Once chilled, slice into 1/2 inch thick slices.

Prepare the Sweet and Purple Potatoes:
     Slice the yams and potatoes width wise at an angle into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Place in a large, broad, lidded pan and cover with cold water and a sprinkle of salt. Cover the pan and bring to a boil, then simmer until the yams and potatoes are tender but still firm, 8-10 minutes. When they are ready, drain them in a large colander and spread them out on a sheet pan to cool. Sprinkle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Prepare the Dressing:

     Preheat the small saucepan over medium-low heat. Saute the garlic and shallots in the oil for about 3 minutes. Add the figs and wine, cover, and bring to a simmer. When the wine has mostly evaporated, add the salt, water, and maple syrup. Cover and simmer another 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and mix in the mustard and vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, then transfer the dressing to a blender and puree it until smooth. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water if it is too thick to puree, or if it is to thick for your preference. Serve warm, or refrigerate and reheat when ready to serve. To heat it, gently warm in a sauce pan over low heat, adding a few splashes of water if necessary.

To Serve:

     In a large bowl, use tongs to mix the greens with some dressing, this dressing is thick so add a little at a time until you find your desired coating. Reserve the rest of the dressing to dollop on the vegetables after they have been arranged.
On each plate, make a circle with slices of the vegetables. Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables. Place the greens on top in the center, leaving the beets, yams, and potatoes peeking out from underneath. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pretty Pink Valentine's Cookies

Pretty Pink Valentine's Cookies

     As dorky as I think it is, I think it's time for me to come to terms with the fact that I love a good theme. I love me a good party where I can make foods that scream that they belong to a specific holiday. Of course Valentine's Day is no exception. I felt a strong and urgent calling Friday night to make something pink and heart shaped.
     I did not plan ahead, and for the life of me I could not find a damn heart shaped cookie cutter! I searched the local Whole Foods, the T.J. Max next door, and as I was just about to give up when I realized that CVS was another cookie cutterless establishment, a revelation... no, an epiphany came over me! All those heart shaped boxes of chocolates could double as a cookie cutters! AWESOME. I found a nice, small box a similar size as a cookie cutter and voila! Presto cookie cutter, it worked like a dream!
     These vegan sugar cookies are flakey, buttery, sweet, and really simple to make. Use the dough with any cookie cutter you'd like depending on your mood. With a coating of Confectioner's Icing, sprinkles, and some assorted candies of your liking, you can make these super pretty, and be as creative as you fancy!

Vegan Sugar Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutter

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup earth balance margarine
1/2 cup earth balance vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond, lemon, maple, or other flavor extract
1/4 cup nondairy milk

In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use electric beaters to cream together the margarine, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy, at least 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla extract, the flavor extract, and the nondairy milk to combine. Beat in half the flour mixture until moistened, then carefully mix in the remaining flour mixture to form a soft dough.

Divide the mixture in two and pat into discs until 1 inch thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One Game, Two Dips: Green Goddess Dressing, and Guacamole!

One Game, Two Green Dips: Green Goddess Dressing, and Guacamole!

     It's Super Bowl Sunday! Pretty much the one day of the year I really watch football... I love the Super Bowl not just for the high stakes game play, or the commercials... but for the fun, delicious, game day food! Duh! I'm down for any event that gives me the chance to make yummy snacks for the masses!
     This Super Bowl I decided to go with a crudité platter, with Green Goddess Dressing. Oh my goodness, is this Green Goddess Dressing is amazing...licking your spoon amazing.  In the summer when the heirloom tomatoes are plentiful, we slice them into thick rounds, and drizzle this dressing over them... WOW.
   What is a football game without guacamole? Not a game I want to watch! So I made guacamole my way; with lot's of lime juice, jalapeño, and charred corn! The combination of the creaminess from the avocado, the tart from the lime, the spice from the jalapeño, and the sweet and smoky of the charred corn is to die for. You'll never make another version of guacamole again!

Note: I did not make green dips in support of the Green Bay Packers, it was a coincidence. GO STEELERS!

Green Goddess Dressing

1 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup light sour cream

Assorted vegetables such as: carrots, tomatoes, lightly steamed asparagus, peppers, broccoli, etc.

Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and process just until blended.

Serve with assorted vegetables, or drizzle over salad!


1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1/3 cup packed fresh cilantro
2 jalapeños seeded, and finely diced
3-4 very ripe avocados, cut in big chunks
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup charred corn (I used defrosted Trader Joe's Frozen Roasted Corn, but you could use fresh corn, charred on the grill, then cut off the cob)

Place all the ingredients except the corn in a big bowl. Using a fork, combine the ingredients, smashing the avocado until it's smooth, but still chunky. Once you reach your desired consistency, add the corn, and mix to combine.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chocolate Agave Trail Mix Cookies: A "Better For You" Treat

 Chocolate Agave Trail Mix Cookies: A "Better For You" Treat

     I love chocolate. Who doesn't? In fact, if you don't love chocolate, I don't know if we can be friends. Find yourself another blog to read... Ok, Ok.... That's kind of harsh, but really.... no chocolate? I am also quite fond of cookies. Now if you don't like cookies, we definitely have problems.
     The thing about loving chocolate, and cookies, especially when they are combined into one, is that they are prettayyy, prettayyy not so awesome for you (Larry David agrees). But not these cookies! Alright, I wouldn't eat these as part of a balanced breakfast, but as far as a sweet treat is concerned, these are prettayyy, prettayyy good for you! These are pretty much refined-sugar free, the only refined sugar is in the chocolate chips, but if you can find the "grain-sweetened" chocolate chips then you have yourself a refined-sugar free chocolate cookie! These cookies are sweetened with glycemic index friendly agave nectar, and whole wheat flour. Not only are these cookies better for you, but they hit all those tasty salty/sweet notes I can't get enough of. So go ahead and eat some cookies, they're good for you!

Chocolate Agave Trail Mix Cookies

Makes 2 Dozen Cookies

1/4 Cup non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
2/3 Cup canola oil
3/4 cup agave nectar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
A generous 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup whole roasted peanuts, toasted walnuts, or roasted cashews
1/2 cup raisins, or dried cherries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together first six ingredients until combined, about 2 minutes. Sift in all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and mix to form a soft dough. Fold in the chocolate chips, nuts, and dried fruit.

For each cookie drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough, 2 inches apart on to the baking sheets. Shape into cookie like disks, as these cookies do not spread much. Bake 12-14 minutes, until firm. Let the the cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Simple Snow Day- Broccoli Leek Soup, and Open Faced Grilled Cheese

Simple Snow Day- Broccoli Leek Soup, and Open Faced Grilled Cheese

What a crazy winter! I don't know about you, but I'm OVER it! With all this crazy snow, sleet, and ice everywhere I know we've been pretty busy shoveling, as I'm sure you've been too.... unless you're one of those lucky west coast smarty pants. So who wants to spend their time slaving over a stove? Not me! This Broccoli Leek soup was everything I wanted this snow day; warm, comforting, light in calories, and fast. So the next time you're in the mood for a healthy, delicious soup, try out this Broccoli Leek Soup, you won't be disappointed.

Broccoli Leek Soup

30 minutes
4 Servings
181 Calories per serving

3 Tablespoons Butter
3 cups chopped leeks (about 3 large)
3 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 pounds broccoli crowns, chopped (about 8 generous cups)
6 cups vegetable, or chicken broth
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and thyme; saute until leeks are almost soft, reducing heat if needed to prevent rapid browning, 7-8 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup leeks to a small bowl; reserve. Add salt, pepper, broccoli, and broth to pot; bring to a boil. Cover; boil until vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes.
Puree soup in blender in batches until smooth. Return soup to pot, stir in lemon juice. Ladle into bowls; top with a spoonful of reserved leeks, and Parmesan cheese if desired.

Open Faced Grilled Cheese

Serves 1

1 Slice of whole wheat bread
2 Slices vine ripened tomato (you could also use avocado, or pepperoni, whatever sounds good to you that day)
1 Slice cheese of your choice
1/4 tablespoon butter

Lay tomato on top of slice of bread, cover with slice of cheese
Preheat broiler.
Heat an oven safe, nonstick pan over medium heat. Add butter to pan, and melt. Add the bread with the tomato and cheese. Cook about 4-5 minutes, until the bottom of the bread is browned.
Place pan in the broiler about 3 minutes until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Keep an eye on it! Plate, and serve!

 This Downy Woodpecker ate his lunch outside our kitchen window!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Blackened Salmon

Sweet and Spicy Blackened Salmon

Want to get some of those heart healthy Omega-3's Dr. Oz is always peer pressuring you to eat more of? This Salmon is where it's at. I've never considered salmon in my top tier of favorite fish, I've always found it dry, and too fatty.... but not this salmon! The spice rub has one of my favorite flavor combinations; sweet, and spicy. The brown sugar in the rub helps develop a nice caramelization, and creates a beautiful crust that helped the salmon stay moist! I served mine with two of my favorite things, baked sweet potato, and some roasted asparagus... yummm

 Sweet and Spicy Blackened Salmon
Serves 2-3

1 Pound Wild Salmon, skin removed, cut into 2-3 portions-- Use a tweezer to make SURE you get all the pin bones out! I recommend letting your salmon sit at room temp 30 minutes, to take the chill off. Don't worry your fish won't go bad!
2 Teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper
Some lemon wedges

Spice Blend:
2 1/2 Teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
2 Teaspoons ground cumin
1 Teaspoon dried oregano
1 Teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon cayenne
Several pinches freshly ground black pepper
2 Cloves garlic, minced

In a small bowl mix together all the ingredients in the spice blend.

Take your 2 teaspoon of olive oil and rub it on both sides of your salmon. Lightly salt and pepper the salmon. Take your spice blend and gently rub it on both sides of the salmon, making sure to gently press it on the salmon to stick. Let it sit about 10 minutes to absorb some of the flavors.

Preheat a good non-stick skillet at medium-high heat. Spray the pan with a little olive oil spray. Place the fish skin side UP in the pan and cook 4 minutes. Carefully flip the fish, and cook an additional 3-4 minutes, depending on you're preferred doneness. Remove from pan and let rest a few minutes. Serve with lemon.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Afternnon Blackberry Mojitos

Sunday Afternoon Blackberry Mojitos

Looking for a yummy, refreshing cocktail? Look no further. This Blackberry Mojito is an easy, fast, and flavorful drink for those lazy Sunday's when the impending doom of your upcoming Monday drives you to drink...

Blackberry Mojitos
Serves 2

1 Lime, cut into eighths
About 24 mint leaves
10-12 Blackberries
2 oz. Simple Syrup
4 oz. White Rum
1 cup seltzer, or club soda (more if you prefer it less strong)

In a pitcher, squeeze the juice out of the lime wedges, then place the wedges into the pitcher. Add the mint, and blackberries. Muddle the lime, mint, and blackberries with a wooden spoon until the juice from the blackberries has been released, and the mint is very fragrant. Add the simple syrup, rum, soda, and mix. Pour into glasses with about 4 ice cubes each.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Revolutionary "Better For You" Eggplant Rollatini

Revolutionary "Better For You" Eggplant Rollatini

     I've recently been craving some sort of yummy ricotta cheese/red sauce/pasta-ish dinner.... Unfortunately most dishes associated with these ingredients are also associated with lots of fat, carbs, and a wicked food coma. So that got me thinking of somehow trading out the pasta for some sort of veggie... which led me to the obvious... Eggplant Rollatini!
     Traditionally, Eggplant Rollatini is first breaded, then rolled around whole milk ricotta cheese, and then covered in sauce. In my lighter version I eliminate the breading process (trust me, you won't miss it), and fill the rollatini with a creamy, flavorful, Cashew ricotta. Don't fear the Cashew ricotta! It will change your life! It's everything you love about a creamy, savory, rich, ricotta, with way less fat and calories! I served mine with a yummy salad, and a few slices of fresh baguette. So go ahead indulge in some vegan comfort food. You'll love it, plus, you won't need to unbutton your skinny jeans after dinner!

"Better For You" Eggplant Rollatini

1 Jar Marinara Sauce, or homemade if you're feeling ambitious
1 recipe Cashew Ricotta
Large handful baby spinach
2 eggplant, sliced 1/2 inch thick
About 1 cup shredded Vegan mozzarella cheese, or regular if you have to
1/4 cup vegan Parmesan, or regular if you'd like
Kosher or Sea Salt
Olive Oil Spray


Spread the eggplant out on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt on both sides. Let sit 10-15 minutes. This process is to get out some of the water, and also any bitterness in the eggplant. Rinse eggplant under running water and pat dry with paper towels. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Spray eggplant with olive oil spray, and cook 3-4 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Set aside on some paper towels, until ready to assemble.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chickpeas and Greens: Chana Saag

Chickpeas and Greens: Chana Saag

     I'm always trying to find different ways to fit greens into my life. I love all kinds of greens, but I especially love kale. We eat is sauteed with garlic, steamed in salads, and we've even had it roasted in the oven! This recipe is super flavorful, easy, fast, and healthy! Don't be discouraged by the list of different spices, just find your local Indian grocer (ours is the convenience store down the street) and they won't cost you more than $6, and that gets you enough spices for the foreseeable future! While your at the Indian grocer you could also pick up some of that delicious Paneer cheese to add to this dish... yummmmm. Serve this dish with some brown Basmati rice, or other rice of your liking, or cut the carbs and have it all on it's lonesome.

Chana Saag

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 small onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 bunches kale (or other greens of your choice), coarse stems removed, chopped finely
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

     Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Pour 1 teaspoon of oil into the pot and add the mustard seeds. Cover the pot and let the seeds pop for about a minute, or until the popping slows down, mixing once. Add the other teaspoon of oil and saute the onion for 4-7 minutes, until translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and saute for another minute. Add the tomatoes and mix to deglaze the pot. Let cook for about 3 minutes, then add the curry, cumin, coriander, garam masala, and salt, and mix well.
     Add the kale in batches, mixing after each addition. It may seem like a lot, but it will cook down. Cover the pot, and let simmer for a minute, lift the lid and stir. Do this a few times until the kale is completely cooked down. Simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The greens should be very tender.
     Add the chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Taste for salt, and serve.