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.