Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta

Tonight's dinner comes from Vegan Yum Yum. The recipe is located here. Perfect weeknight fare: fast, easy, and kid friendly (she ate a whole plate!). G even gave it 4 of 5 stars. The only drawback was that there were no leftovers.

Today's Cooking

Today I worked on some more bread recipes from Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart. I currently have bagels and some more french bread rising in my refrigerator. I think I may try some whole grain breads later this week. So delicious!

For lunch today, we had leftover Gnocchi w/ Roasted Red Kuri Squash from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. The recipe calls for packaged gnocchi, but because I'm a glutton for punishment, I made my own gnocchi. I always sort of make lazy gnocchi. I make the dough as recommended, but then I just roll the gnocchi into a long line and cut off little gnocchi balls. I don't bother shapping them with a fork, I just kind of let them dry as blobs for a little while and then cook them. They, honestly, aren't much different this way than with the fancy fork decorations. And gnocchi takes time and this cuts down on some of the time.

This is a delicious recipe, probably more time intensive than you would need on a normal weeknight. Maddie ate the gnocchi, but would not touch the sauce.

Homemade Gnocchi (From Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs[ olive oil
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

  1. Bake the potatoes at 450 degrees for 45 mins or until cooked through.
  2. Cool the potatoes. I usually stick them in the refrigerator or freezer until they are easy to handle.
  3. Start boiling a large pot of water.
  4. Cut the potatoes in half and scoop the potato from the peel into a bowl.
  5. Add the olive oil.
  6. Mash the potatoes until smooth-ish.
  7. Add the flour a little at a time.
  8. When the dough is feeling knead-able, move it to a counter and knead it, continuing to add the flour. Keep adding flour until it isn't sticky, but it isn't overly dry.
  9. Divide the dough into smaller portions.
  10. Roll the dough into a rope about 3/4 inch thick.
  11. Cut the dough rope into small pieces.
  12. Separate the pieces on a floured surface (I just used a cookie sheet). Let them sit on the counter for > 10 minutes.
  13. Drop the gnocchi into the water and let boil until they float.
  14. If you are making the gnocchi with a sauce, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and put them into the sauce. I have also put them in a bowl and doused them with olive oil to keep them from clumping together.
Roasted Red Kuri Squash Sauce (From Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton)

3 lbs red kuri squash (I used butternut)
1 bulb of garlic
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 1/4- 1 1/2 cup plain soy milk
2 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2-3 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tbsp vegan margarine
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
handful of chopped fresh basil

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place the squash on a baking sheet.
  3. Wrap the bulb of garlic in some aluminum foil and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Roast the squash and the garlic for an hour.
  5. When the squash and garlic are done, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
  6. Scoop out the rest of the squash into a food processor.
  7. Squeeze the roasted garlic from the peel into the food processor.
  8. Add the rest of the ingredients up to, but not including the vegan margarine.
  9. Process the ingredients together until smooth.
  10. Move the sauce ingredients to a saucepan on medium to heat the sauce.
  11. Add the vegan margarine and mix to combine.
  12. Add the chopped basil to the sauce when it is almost ready to be served.
  13. Add the gnocchi to the sauce.
  14. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Baking Bread

I have been baking a lot of bread lately. It all started when I was fantasizing about a picnic with no food except some french bread, butter, and a sweet white wine with a friend. I decided that I should learn to bake french bread! I started out with this recipe. We actually baked it at a party and ate it around the table as soon as it had cooled sufficiently with lots and lots of butter. Bread parties are now going to be a tradition! Who needs sweets and chips when you have fresh bread? The recipe turned out nicely, but I wanted to experiment some more.

So I bought a book: Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart.

The first recipe I tried, of course, was the french bread. The first difference is that the dough is less tacky, easier to handle. I made a larger loaf too. G loved this bread. He said it was perfect, except the color looked too dark. Otherwise, it tasted perfect and the shape was really good. In spite of the dark color, it didn't taste burned at all. I think my oven may have been a little too hot. It also cooked in much less time than the recipe indicated. I was glad I checked on it, otherwise, I would've had badly burned bread.

New cookbooks pretty much make my day. So does fresh bread.

Weekly Menu for the Week of 27-Dec-09

Sunday: Gnocchi w/ roasted red kuri squash (Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan)
Monday: Out of Town
Tuesday: Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta (
Wednesday: Jumble-aya (Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan pg 123)
Thursday: kung pao tofu (Authentic Chinese Cuisine pg. 135)
Friday: Pizza!
Saturday: veggie burgers and homemade french fries

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Teriyaki Sauce

This is the teriyaki sauce recipe from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by the amazing Dreena Burton. I am posting this because it was requested by my sister-in-law and my mother!

1/2 cup tamari soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 1/2 tbsp agave nectar (or other syrup [maple syrup, corn syrup, simple syrup, honey])
1-1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2-2 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or corn starch)

Whisk ingredients together and add to stir fry. Let it simmer until it thickens.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chana Masala (660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer)

Taste: 5 (Pretty much tasted exactly like our favorite Indian restaurants)
Ease of Preparation: 4 (minimal chopping, just lots of simmering)
Nutritional Value: 3 (lots of protein, 5 ww points before )
Maddie Friendliness: 2 (she is sick and didn't eat, but I'd guess she would only eat the rice)
Cost of Ingredients: 3-4 (Extra cheap if you make chickpeas in a slow cooker while at work. Some of the spices might add up, though. You can buy mango powder online if there is no Indian foods store in your neighborhood. Worth it for all the delicious Indian food it helps you make!)
Overall: 3.6

Gar loved this one and I did too. We served it with some whole wheat naan we found at whole foods. It also made plenty for lunches for tomorrow!

Chana Masala

6-8 servings

2 tbsp ghee

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tbsp ginger paste

1 tbsp garlic paste

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp mango powder

1 tsp cayenne (I reduced to 1/4 tsp)

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

4 cups cooked chickpeas

4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1. Heat the ghee in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

2. Add the whole cumin seeds and cook until they turn reddish brown and smell nutty (5-10 seconds).

3. Lower the heat to medium.

4. Add the ginger and garlic pastes (standing back to avoid splatter). Stir-fry until the pastes turn light brown (about 2 minutes). I added the red onions at this point. I don't like the sharp taste of red onions, so I prefer them cooked rather than raw as he instructs.

5. Stir in 1 cup of water, tomato paste, coriander, mango powder, cayenne, turmeric, and ground cumin.

6. Cover about halfway and let simmer until the mixture forms a thick reddish-brown sauce (5-10 minutes).

7. Pour in 2 cups of water, the chickpeas, 2 tbsp of the cilantro, and the salt.

8. Raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens (15-18 minutes).

9. Sprinkle the remaining cilantro and the onion over the chickpeas and serve over rice or with naan.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles

This recipe really felt sort of heaven sent. I am in a very tough position at work this week food-wise. I am in training that goes from 8-5 with an hour for lunch. However, every single day I am in training, I have a meeting over lunch. Usually for lunch, I rely on leftovers that I heat in the microwave. But this is a dish that is supposed to be cold! And there is a perfect amount left for my meeting lunches! Pretty tasty too!

The recipe can be found at

Taste: 4
Ease of Preparation: 4 (shredded cabbage and carrots in my food processor...really does not get much easier)
Nutritional Value: 4 (cruciferous yumminess!)
Maddie Friendliness: 2 (she only ate the noodles)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 3.7

Weekly Menu for the Week of 5-Oct-09

This week I am trying out a new blog called Vegan Yum Yum. The recipes look promising and the photographs are lovely. I am very excited about this!

Monday: Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles
Tuesday: Ligurian Pesto Pasta (using fresh green beans from my in-laws...thanks Kat!)
Wednesday: Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Wok Steamed Collards and Quinoa
Thursday: Soy-Mirin Tofu Over Rice with Broccoli and Peanut Sauce
Friday: leave town for the weekend

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Green Beans with Tomato (Lilva Nu Shaak)

Lately I have been stocking up my pantry for Indian food. This is mostly due to the acquisition of 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. Also because Indian food is my favorite food in the universe. This recipe calls for asafetida (or hing). We found it pretty quickly in our local Indian store. You can also order spices like these on the internet. I made a special order with several spices in recipes I wanted to try like mango powder, jaggery, asafetida, and a few others to make it worth the shipping.

Today's recipe was Green Beans with Tomato (Lilva Nu Shaak) from 660 Curries.

Taste: 4.5 (The flavor of the spice was just right. It tasted like Indian food, not some hacked together Indian-like food with loads of curry powder.)
Ease of Preparation: 4 (My only issue with this dish is green beans are kind of putsy to trim and cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
Nutritional Value: 4 (green beans and tomatoes!)
Maddie Friendliness: 2 (she only ate the rice)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 3.7

And now for the recipe!

2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp yellow or black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp sea salt or coarse kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper (I halved this [1/2 tsp] and it was still really spicy)
1 tsp white sugar, packed brown sugar, or jaggery
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp asafetida
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium tomato, coared and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

  1. If serving with rice, start the rice.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the mustard seeds and cover the pan. They will pop like popcorn. Wait until the mustard seeds have stopped popping.
  4. Add the cumin seeds. They will instantly turn reddish-brown.
  5. Take the saucepan off of the heat.
  6. Add the rest of the spices.
  7. Add the beans. Stir to coat the beans with the spices.
  8. Pour in one cup of water and add the tomato.
  9. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low.
  10. Simmer for 10-12 minutes.
  11. Spoon over the rice and garnish with cilantro.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lemony Cashew-Basil Pesto on Pasta

Tonight's recipe was Lemony Cashew-Basil Pesto on Pasta from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton.

Taste: 4 (Can't go too wrong with pesto!)
Ease of Preparation: 5 (seriously, I didn't even have to chop anything)
Nutritional Value: 3 (no vegetable content, but use a whole grain pasta and it's not terrible)
Maddie Friendliness: 2 (she only ate the pasta)
Cost of Ingredients: 3
Overall: 3.4

This was a good pesto recipe. It's much lower in oil than my favorite recipe from Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein, which means it's definitely a better choice if you're trying to watch your calories.

And now for the recipe!

1 large clove garlic
3-3 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 tsp dry mustard
3/4 tsp sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water
1 cup + 1-2 tbsp raw cashews
2 1/2-2 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves and tender stems
1/2-1 pound pasta (I used brown rice pasta tonight)

  1. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the water used to boil the pasta.
  2. Place the garlic, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, olive, and water in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Add the cashews and basil leaves and blend until smooth.
  4. Add the pesto to the cooked noodles and toss to combine, adding the reserved water to loosen up the mixture if it's dry.
  5. Serve immediately. The pesto loses its color quickly.
I served this with salad.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tonight we had New Potatoes and Spinach from the cookbook 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. This is the 3rd time I've made this recipe because, honestly, I just can't recommend it enough. Full of flavor, packed with spinach, and just all-around a great recipe. If you haven't yet, try it! Even better check out the cookbook, because it's like opening a great curry treasure chest.

Tomorrow is a new recipe!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Spicoli Burgers and Potato Squashers!

Tonight we had spicoli burgers and potato squashers. I have made the spicoli burgers before and posted about it here. After trying this and a few other recipes from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton, I went ahead and bought the cookbook. To accompany the spicoli burgers, I made the potato squashers. They are really tasty and very simple too. Garison saw them and said, "How am I supposed to eat these?" I said, "Um, with a fork?" He said, aghast, "You mean I have to eat the skins?" I'm happy to say, though that he ate them and he liked them in spite of his initial revulsion about eating the skins.

I have missed cooking! It feels so good to nourish your family and yourself by taking the time to make healthy food. I think I have been a little too ambitious, though. Scheduling weeks jam-packed with recipes that take 1.5 hours or more to make. I am going to try to limit the big plans for one or two nights a week and spend most of my time focusing on fast and easy stuff for work nights so I don't become so overwhelmed. If anyone has favorite recipes that are fast and easy or recommendations for cookbooks I'd love to hear them!

Menu for the Week of 20-Sep-09

I've taken a few weeks off from blogging, mostly for health reasons. Sadly, all the take out has been catching up to me, so now that I'm feeling better, it's time to get back on track! Here is this week's meal plan!

Spicoli Burgers, potato squashers (Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan)
Monday: New Potatoes and Spinach (660 Curries pg 580)
Tuesday: Lemony Cashew Basil Pesto on Pasta (Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan pg 131)
Wednesday: Green Beans with Tomato (660 Curries pg 511)
Thursday: Penne Vodka (Veganomicon pg 193) sauteed greens
Friday: pizza

Grocery List:
potatoes for squashers
rice flour
hemp seeds
rice pasta (2)
28 oz crushed tomatoes
slivered almonds
basil (large bunch)
raw cashews
Green Beans
Tomato (2)
black or yellow mustard seeds
greens (kale or chard)
cheese for pizza
spinach 8 oz
1 pound new potatoes

Monday, August 24, 2009

Potato and Kale Enchiladas with Roasted Chile Sauce

Last Tuesday, I made Potato and Kale Enchiladas with Roasted Chile Sauce from the Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

4.5 (yum yum yum!)
Ease of Preparation: 3 (very putsy recipe)
Nutritional Value: 4 (kale woohoo!)
Maddie Friendliness: 2 (she ate one of the leftover corn tortillas)
Cost of Ingredients: 3
Overall: 3.3

This recipe turned out really well, but took forever to make. So many steps! I think if I did it again, I could make it faster, but a lot of it was just how the recipe was written. It wasn't really clear what should be cooking and when.

Potato and Kale Enchiladas with Roasted Chile Sauce Recipe

Enchilada Chile Sauce:
3 large green chiles (I used Anaheim)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion diced
2-3 tsp chile powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp marjoram
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I didn't have diced tomatoes so I just pulsed whole tomatoes in a food processor)
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt

Potato and Kale Filling:
1 pound waxy potatoes, peeled and diced (prepare these first)
1/2 pound kale, washed, stemmed, and chopped fincely
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
3 tbsp lime juice (I used the juice of two small limes)
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (I used pine nuts because I had them around), chopped coarsely
1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
12-14 corn tortillas (I used 12)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a shallow casserole dish.
  2. Roast the chiles in the oven (cook at 425 for 20 mins).
  3. Boil a pot of water.
  4. Boil the potatoes for 20 mins.
  5. Prepare the rest of the vegetables.
  6. Saute the onions in oil for 4-7 minutes, until softened.
  7. Put the onions and the rest of the sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender.
  8. Remove the peppers from the oven. Reduce oven temp to 375.
  9. Peel the roasted peppers and add to the ingredients in the food processor or blender.
  10. Puree until smooth.
  11. Drain and set aside the potatoes.
  12. Cook the olive oil and garlic in a large saucepot/saucepan over emdium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the garlic is slightly browned.
  13. Add the kale, sprinkle with a little salt, and stir to coat with oil and garlic.
  14. Raise the heat to medium.
  15. Cover the kale and steam for 4-6 minutes.
  16. Remove the lid and mix in the potatoes, vegetable stock, lime juice, pumpkin seeds, and salt.
  17. Cook another 3-4 minutes, until the stock is absorbed.
Assemble the enchiladas:
  1. Fill a small pie plate with 3/4 cup sauce.
  2. Prepare the assembly line with the pie plate, the enchiladas. the potato/kale mix, the tortillas, and a heated griddle or greased pan.
  3. Ladle some enchilada sauce onto the bottom of the casserole pan.
  4. Take a corn tortilla and place it on the heated griddle for about 15 seconds per side until it's soft.
  5. Soak the tortilla in the enchilada sauce in the pie plate.
  6. Place the tortilla in the casserole pan.
  7. Add the potato/kale mixture and roll it up.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 until all the tortillas have been used.
  9. Pour about a cup of sauce over the top. Reserve the leftovers to top the enchiladas when served.
  10. Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil.
  11. Bake 25 minutes.
  12. Remove the foil and bake for 10-15 more minutes until the edges of the tortillas look a little browned.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Black Bean Burgers from The Veganomicon

Taste: 3.5 (Good, solid, bean burgers...not terribly interesting by themselves but better than Boca!)
Ease of Preparation: 4 (very very easy)
Nutritional Value: 3 (black beans are good protein, but I rank higher for more varied nutrition)
Maddie Friendliness: 4 (she actually ate a burger!!!)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 3.7

Overall, a good solid bean burger, though I definitely I like the spicoli burgers more.

Black Bean Burgers

2 cups cooked or 1 15 oz can black beans drained and rinsed (I used the can of black beans)
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I used panko bread crumbs)
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp tomato paste (or ketchup)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 small onion (grated using the large holes on a box grater, or in a food processor)
olive oil

  1. Mash the beans with a fork.
  2. Add everything except the olive oil.
  3. Mix well with your hands until the mixture comes together.
  4. Form into six patties (I made them about 3/4 inch thick).
  5. Fry in a small amount of olive oil for five minutes on each side.
  6. Serve!

Weekly Menu for the Week of 16-Aug-09

Sunday: Black Bean Burgers (veganomicon pg 98), corn
Monday: New Potatoes and Spinach (660 Curries pg 580)
Tuesday: potato and kale enchiladas with roasted chile sauce (Veganomicon pg 162)
Wednesday: Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Veganomicon pg 182)
Thursday: Spicy Tempeh and Broccoli Rabe with Rotelle
Friday: pizza

I got a new cookbook called The Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero! So this is the week to try some of it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Spaghettini with Green Sauce

Tonight we made a very simple pasta dish. It's literally one of those chop, saute, and serve kind of dishes. Took me less than 15 minutes to make, total.

Taste: 3 (It was good, nothing spectacular)
Ease of Preparation: 5 (Really, unless it's pre-canned, it doesn't get much easier)
Weight Friendliness: 5 (5 Weight Watchers points per serving if you assume 6 servings)
Maddie Friendliness: 3 (She ate the noodles, though she tried very hard to pick off the parsley)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 4

Recipe from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used only 1/8 of a cup)
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups packed, fresh, flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegetable broth, preferably homemade (I used veggie bouillon and some water)
Salt, preferably the coarse variety, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 oz spaghettini or other thin pasta (we used cappellini)

  1. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer to a warm serving bowl.
  2. While the pasta is boiling, in a medium, nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat.
  3. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned (about 4-5 minutes)
  4. Add the parsley and broth and stir until just combined.
  5. Immediately remove from the heat and season with coarse salt and pepper.
  6. Add the parsley mixture to the pasta and toss to combine.
I served this with a mixed green salad with an easy homemade vinaigrette.

Paradise Casserole

I made the Paradise Casserole from The Candle Cafe Cookbook last night. It one of the most filling things I've ever made. The recipe says 6-8 servings, but I cut it into 12 pieces and G and I could only eat one. I had one piece for lunch today and I was almost too full halfway through the afternoon to eat the gorgeous grapes I'd brought.

Taste: 3.5
Ease of Preparation: 2 (not hard I guess, but it's at least two hours until on the table)
Weight Friendliness: 5 (only 4 points a slice)
Maddie Friendliness: 3 (She ate the millet and poked at the sweet potato)
Cost of Ingredients: 3
Overall: 3.3

Recipe adapted from The Candle Cafe Cookbook by Joy Pierson, Bart Potenza, and Barbara Scott-Goodman

4 Sweet Potatoes
1 tbsp sweet white miso
1 tsp umeboshi vinegar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup black beans soaked overnight with a 1-inch piece of kombu, drained (full disclosure, I totally forgot to soak the beans so I ended up using two cans of beans and skipped to step 8)
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1 tsp cumin
pinch of crushed red pepper
pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cups millet
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Do this first.)
  2. Bake the sweet potatoes for 1 hour or until easily pierced with a fork. (While the sweet potatoes are cooking, start the beans [step 7] and then start the millet [step 11].)
  3. Cool the potatoes until they are cool to the touch.
  4. Remove the peels. (This is easy, the skins literally just come right off)
  5. Place the sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl and mash them with a potato masher until smooth.
  6. Combine the miso, vinegar, and cinnamon with the potatoes.
  7. Put the beans in a large stockpot and add cover with water by two inches.
  8. Over high heat, add the garlic, onion, cumin, crushed red pepper, and salt and bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer the beans for 45-60 minutes, or until tender.
  10. Drain the beans and set aside.
  11. Put the millet and 4 cups of salted water in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  12. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Set aside.
  13. Lighly oil a large baking pan or casserole (I used a regular 13 by 9 cake pan).
  14. Spread the millet over the bottom of the pan.
  15. Spread the black beans in an even layer over the millet.
  16. Top with the sweet potato mixture.
  17. Bake the casserole for 45 minutes.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Penne with Sweet Pepper and Tomato Sauce

This was a nice pasta dish. The cooking time was long, but the prep time wasn't terrible. Lots of sitting down and playing with Maddie for 15 mins. The sauce turned out this lovely shade of orange. With the flecks of basil it was a very pretty dish. Garison described the flavor as creamy.

Taste: 4
Ease of Preparation: 3
Weight Friendliness: 4 (6 Weight Watchers points if you assume 6 servings per recipe)
Maddie Friendliness: 3 (She ate a little of it)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 3.6

Recipe from The Mediterannean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein

2 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (I used 1 tbsp)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (I used 2 very small onions)
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (for information on peeling and seeding tomatoes, see these instructions at The Veggie Table)
1 large red bell pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
2 to 3 tbsp vegetable broth or water (I used water)
1 pound penne or other short tubular pasta

*Note: The sauce for this recipe takes a long time to cook, so don't start boiling the pasta until you are simmering the tomatoes and peppers. Cook the pasta following the package directions until al dente around halfway through the simmer time for the tomatoes and peppers.

  1. In a large nonstick skillet with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender (about 15 minutes).
  3. Add the garlic and raise the heat to medium.
  4. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onion begins to caramelize (about 5 minutes). [I didn't so much stir constantly as occasionally and it was fine.]
  5. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.
  6. Raise the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  8. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bell pepper is very soft (about 15-20 minutes).
  9. Pour the mixture into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  10. Return the mixture to the skillet.
  11. Stir in the basil.
  12. Reheat over low heat, stirring occasionally, adding the broth or water as needed.
  13. Toss the sauce with the pasta. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Serve at once.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cellophane Noodle Salad

Garison and I love to go out for Asian food of all kinds. One of our favorite dishes is always the noodle salads. This recipe is a little different from what we usually get at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. Mostly because it's cabbage-based and not lettuce-based.

Taste: 4
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
4 (8 Weight Watchers points)
Maddie Friendliness:
3 (She ate the rice noodles and the mock duck)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 3.8

This is actually a recipe I've tried several different versions of. This is closest I've gotten to the taste of the restaurant without fish sauce.

The recipe follows (adapted from Quick-Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson)

4 oz cellophane noodles
1 8 oz package shredded cabbage (I used about 3/4 of a regular green cabbage, shredded)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 English cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced (I used a plain old ordinary cucumber)
3 scallions, sliced (omitted and replaced with one small onion, sliced and caramelized to closer replicate our restaurant's version)
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (I goofed here, I had cilantro from last week that I was going to use without realizing it had already started to liquefy in my refrigerator. I had a tube of cilantro paste in my refrigerator, which I mixed in with the dressing)

I also heated up a package of stir-fry seitan strips with the carmelized onions to give it a little more staying power.

3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (or the juice of one lime)
1 tbsp tamari
2 tsp brown sugar (I used heaping teaspoons because I love how sweet the salad at our local restaurant is with the fish sauce)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp chili paste (I combined the garlic and chili paste and used a garlic chili paste I had in my refrigerator)
2 tbsp water

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

The directions are easy: Mix the salad ingredients together. Mix the dressing ingredients together. Toss to combine and top with peanuts.

Menu for the Week of 2-Aug-09

Sunday: cellophane noodle salad with mock duck (Quick-Fix Vegetarian pg 71)
Monday: Penne with Sweet Pepper and Tomato Sauce (Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen pg 116)
Tuesday: Paradise Casserole (The Candle Cafe Cookbook pg 110)
Wednesday: Spaghettini with Walnut-Garlic Sauce (Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen pg 120)
Thursday: Quick Farmer's Paella (Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen)
Friday: pizza with mozzarella and fresh basil

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ginger-Miso Stir-Fry

What an amazing week for food. Every recipe I've prepared this week has turned out to be excellent. This dish was again, amazing. Lots of preparation, again, in the form of vegetable chopping, but I kind of enjoy that. The sauce is a little sweet and mellow. Full of flavor! Every single recipe from The Candle Cafe Cookbook by Joy Pierson, Bart Potenza, and Barbara Scott-Goodman has been outstanding. I don't often say that about a cookbook. That said, here is the breakdown.


Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
3 (7 Weight Watchers points without rice, 10 with brown rice udon noodles)
Maddie Friendliness:
3 (She ate the udon)
Cost of Ingredients: 3
Overall: 3.4

Recipe: From 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer

Ginger-Miso Stir-Fry

Ginger-Miso Sauce
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup minced ginger
1/2 cup mellow white miso
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup shoyu or tamari soy sauce (I used tamari)
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup seeded, deveined, and sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup seeded and sliced yellow bell pepper (I used green pepper because it's cheaper for both of the peppers)
3/4 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup sliced blanched bok choy (I used both the stems and the leaves)
1/2 cup blanched string beans, chopped
1 1/2 cups blanched broccoli, chopped
1 cup chopped shredded cabbage
1/2 cup stemmed and sliced shiitake mushrooms (I omitted these)
1 cup rinsed, drained, and cubed extra-firm tofu (I fried these until they were golden brown on all sides before mixing it in with the veggies)
1/4 cup thinly sliced water chestnuts (I forgot these)
1/4 cup sesame seeds

1. To make the ginger-miso sauce, place all of the ingredients with 1 cup of water in a blender and blend until smooth. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

2. In a large saute pan or wok, heat the olive oil over high ehat. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for about 2 minutes.

3. Add the vegetables and tofu and toss to combine. Continue to saute and toss the vegetables and tofu together until they reach the desired doneness, about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your taste.

4. Add the ginger-miso sauce and water chestnuts and stir-fry for an additional 3 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve at once.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ligurian Pesto Pasta (Linguine with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans)

Tonight, I had planned to make Ligurian Pesto Pasta. While I was reading the directions I thought I'd prefer to make Poor Man's Pesto from Donna Klein's excellent Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen (because the recipe on the website calls for parmesan and I am trying to avoid dairy). I opened the cookbook and the page I opened it to happened to have the same recipe. So I made that one instead. The recipes are very similar, so if you make the recipe on the website, you will have very similar results.


Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
4 (7 ww points when you make it with whole wheat linguine)

Maddie Friendliness:
4 (she ate the pasta heartily)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 4.1

This was delicious. Full of flavor! It was incredibly easy too. It literally took 20 minutes total with prep including cleaning/preparing the potatoes, green beans, and fresh basil. Also not a lot of dishes created in the process, which Garison appreciated. This is going to be a household staple.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Spicy Soba Noodle Stir-Fry

Tonight's recipe was Spicy Soba Noodle Stir-Fry from The Candle Cafe Cookbook by Joy Pierson, Bart Potenza, and Barbara Scott-Goodman. So far every recipe from this book I've tried has been excellent and this was no exception.


Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
2 (7 ww points without rice)

Maddie Friendliness:
2 (she ate the rice)
Cost of Ingredients: 3 (lots of veggies to stir fry)
Overall: 3

OMG YUM! This is easily the tastiest recipe I've prepared. G and I both gave it fives. This is the type of recipe that when you eat it, you eat it slowly to savor every mouthful (especially the mouthfuls with broccoli). This tasted exactly like the peanut sauce I get at my local Thai place except with more veggies, and that is a good thing.

The treasure here is the sauce. You can pretty much ignore all of the other instructions and just make the sauce, make a stir-fry and you'll be golden. That would probably be easier too. The instructions the author gives for how to make a stir fry were a little putzy (for example, you had to blanch several of the vegetables before stir-frying them. I've stir fried bok choy many times and the result here was not appreciably different. A few other shortcuts I'll try another time include using frozen broccoli/string beans. I've had lots of good luck with both of those vegetables in frozen form in stir fries, unlike other vegetables like onions. I also prefer to make this with udon noodles or rice. Soba noodles are always just a little too pasty for my taste.

So delicious! And so much leftover. One recipe makes 8 servings, easily. More if you add more vegetables. There is plenty of sauce here to go around, so you could also cut down on the sauce for a little more of a weight-friendly option. I'm now looking forward to miso stir fry in a couple of days!

Recipe from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer

Spicy Soba Noodle Stir-Fry

Peanut Sauce:
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup brown rice vinegar
1 small red onion
2 tablespoons cilantro
2 tbsp ginger
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 cup shoyu or tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp hot sauce
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tbsp sesame oil

Soba Noodles and Tempeh:
1 8 oz package tempeh, cubed
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound soba noodles or thin pasta (I completely forgot this was a stir fry with soba noodles and started rice before I even opened the cookbook. So I served this with rice instead...kinda negates the whole soba noodle stir-fry title, though.)

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded green cabbage (I didn't have cabbage, so I omitted this and added some extra bok choy and string beans)
1/2 cup trimmed and blanched string beans
1 1/2 cups cut and blanched broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper (I just used another green pepper due to cost)
1 green bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced blanched bok choy
1/4 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms (I omitted this since I hate mushrooms :P)
1 tbsp shoyu or tamari soy sauce
2 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1. to prepare the peanut sauce, place all of the ingredients with 2 cups of water in a blender and blend until smooth.

2. Place the tempeh cubes in a nonreactive bowl (I used pyrex) and cover with the peanut sauce. Refrigerate for at least a half hour or up to overnight. Drain and set aside (I just spooned the pieces of tempeh out with a slotted spoon).

3. To prepare the soba noodles, bring a large soup pot of water to a boil and add the salt and olive oil. Add the soba noodles and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

4. To prepare the stir-fry, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or wok over high heat. Add tempeh and saute for 3 to 5 minutes (the peanuty tempeh was pretty gloppy and sticky in the pan). Add the garlic, ginger, onion, cabbage, string beans, and broccoli and stir-fry for 5 minutes, then add the peppers, bok choy, and mushrooms, and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the peanut sauce (I reused the peanut sauce from the marinade too) and continue to saute, tossing the vegetables, tempeh cubes, and sauce together until done, about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your taste.

5. Add the shoyu or tamari soy sauce and sesame oil and stir-fry for an additional 3 minutes. Serve the vegetables over the soba noodles (or rice!).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chana Saag

Taste: 4
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
4 (8 ww points with rice)

Maddie Friendliness:
4 (she was spooning up the spinach by itself!)
Cost of Ingredients: 3 (spices are expensive, but they last awhile)
Overall: 3.8

Overall, this was our most well-reviewed recipe yet! It was also the closest we've come to replicating the chana saag at our local Indian restaurant. It was tasty and also the easiest recipe I've tried to date (I've attempted 4 other versions and, while some tasted equally good, this one destroys the competition on easiness.)

Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins

This morning I tried making Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins from The Candle Cafe Cookbook. This is another cookbook that I've owned for a few years, but haven't worked with very often. I'm trying a few recipes from it this week.

This morning we are visiting friends so I thought, what better treat to bring friends than muffins! The recipe makes 12 small muffins and have some whole wheat flour, though I'd guess the amount of sugar removes any possible health benefits from them. :-P

I was very crestfallen to see the muffin tops cave in as soon as I opened the oven to test them. Next time I will know that they take longer than the minimum amount of time to cook, though my oven is usually the type that will burn all your food in a matter of minutes.

But they tasted delicious! A little crumbly from the wheat flour, but overall, very tasty and surprisingly satisfying. Maddie was hunting for them in the kitchen after she shared one with her daddy, so I think she gives them a thumbs up too. I plan to enjoy them after dinner for dessert this week with a nice cuppa tea. Hopefully my friends like them too.

Recipe from The Candle Cafe Cookbook by Joy Pierson, Bart Potenza, and Barbara Scott-Goodman

Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt (fine-grained)
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup lemon juice (or the juice of one lemon)
1/4 poppy seeds
2 tsp grated lemon zest (or the zest of one lemon)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin or line tins with cupcake papers.

2. Sift the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together the margarine, maple syrup, soy milk, and lemon juice until foamy. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until the batter is smooth. Fold in the poppy seeds and lemon zest.

3. Pour the batter into the muffin tins, dividing evenly. Bake on a center rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Menu for the Week of 26-Jul-09

Sunday: Chana Saag (660 Curries pg 334)
Monday: Spicy Soba Noodle Stir-Fry (The Candle Cafe Cookbook pg 124)
Tuesday: Ligurian Pesto Pasta
Wednesday: Ginger-Miso Stir Fry (The Candle Cafe Cookbook pg 123)
Thursday: Chana Masala (660 Curries pg 333)
Friday: Out of town

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Radiatore with Chickpeas, Baby Spinach, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

After all that curry, it was actually an excellent change of pace to try a good, hearty, pasta dish. And an easy one too!

Basically, you boil pasta, wilt some spinach, saute a few cloves of garlic, mix with a can of drained diced tomatoes and 1/3 of a cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes, toss all together, add salt and pepper, and you're done! (OK, so that turned into a bit of a run-on sentence, but it was easy, I swear!)

So here is the breakdown:

Taste: 4
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
(11 weight watchers points, but the serving size in the cookbook seemed pretty excessive, easily cut down)
Maddie Friendliness:
4 (she said nummy and ate about half!)
Cost of Ingredients: 3
Overall: 3.6

Recipe adapted from Quick-Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson:

1 10 oz package baby spinach
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound radiatore or other small pasta (I used penne)
  1. Prepare the pasta according to package instructions.
  2. In a saute pan, heat up a small amount of water until it begins to steam. Steam the spinach until it is wilted. Set aside.
  3. Using the same pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, spinach, and chickpeas.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Simmer until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
  8. Toss the pasta with the sauce.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spinach-Smothered Whole Green Lentils (Palak Moong)

Yet another recipe from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer tonight. It took a long time to cook, so if you are planning to make it, you should plan for at least an hour of simmering and more simmering. It was a really nice every day sort of meal. Nothing spectacular, just a really nice, tasty, lentil dish with a nice serving of greens to make it extra nutritious.

3.5 (G gave it a 3.5)

Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
(5 weight watchers points without the rice)
Maddie Friendliness:
2 (I feel like a broken record, but she ate the rice)
Cost of Ingredients: 3
Overall: 2.9

Man, that Maddie score drags good dishes down. :(

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Roasted Peanuts

Tonight I made Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Roasted Peanuts from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. It's a very simple stir fry. The only things I had to chop were the bok choy and the garlic, so no problem. Well, it turned into a little problem when the heated oil splattered EVERYWHERE when I put in the ginger. Huge mess, lol, but all my fault.

Taste: 3.5 (G gave it a 3.5 as well)
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
(8 weight watchers points with the rice)
Maddie Friendliness:
2 (once again, she ate the rice)
Cost of Ingredients: 4 (bok choy and peanuts from Cub for around $2 to feed a family of 3)
Overall: 3.5

There is another bok choy stir fry recipe that I like much better than this one from Cook's Illustrated (located here if you are a member). The flavor is much more full than the flavor from this one. I liked the peanuts and the spice in this one, but I just felt it lacked depth. I am contemplated making a hybrid of the two recipes to make one amazing dish. When I do that, I'll post the recipe. ;)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cauliflower, Spinach, and Potato Stir-Fry with Coconut Milk

I have had Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison on my bookshelf for, wow, probably close to 10 years. It is one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I bought after making the big decision to become a vegetarian back in 2000. Sadly, even though I've owned it for so long, I have never cooked more than just the pizza crust.

So this week, after seeing it referred to in several places as one of the best cookbooks for beginning vegetarians, I decided to try some more recipes from it.

The first one I tried was Cauliflower, Spinach, and Potato Stir-Fry with Coconut Milk (pg 265). Here is the breakdown:

Taste: 3 (G gave it a 4)
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
(8 weight watchers points without counting the rice...eeek)
Maddie Friendliness:
2 (she ate the rice and some of the potato)
Cost of Ingredients: 3
Overall: 2.8

This is what it looked like while it was cooking:

And what it looked like on my plate with garnish:

Overall, it was alright. It was good and tasty. It did not make me want to immediately add it to my list for regular meals, but I might make it again if I happen to have some of the ingredients around. I'm really not sure it's worth the calorie load, though (ye gods!).

ETA: I learned a very valuable lesson as a result of this dish. I need to take the fat out of my diet or my lack of a gall bladder will kill me. I will not be making this again, not because of the quality of the dish, but because my body cannot handle it.

Menu for the Week of 19-Jul-09

Sunday: Cauliflower, Spinach, and Potato Stir-Fry with Coconut Milk (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone pg 265)
Monday: Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Roasted Peanuts (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone pg 264)
Tuesday: Spinach-Smothered Whole Green Lentils (Palak Moong) (660 Curries, Raghavan Iyer)
Wednesday: Penne with chickpeas, baby spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes
Thursday: Gingered Red Lentils (660 Curries, pg 398)
Friday: Mashed Potato Pizza

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Udon Noodles with Sesame-Crusted Tofu

I forgot that I had to eat out last night with my book club, so my menu this week is off by one night. I'm going to cancel the edamame pesto and move Tuesday and Wednesday back a day.

This means tonight we had Udon Noodles with Sesame-Crusted Tofu from Vegan Dad.

Taste: 3.5 (G gave it a 4.5)
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
(10 weight watchers points a serving)
Maddie Friendliness:
3 (she actually loved the tofu)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 3.5

This was a nice dish. I think the sauce was a little underwhelming, but that could easily be spiced up.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chocolate Mug Cake

OK, I have seen this recipe on food blogs everywhere lately. I have tried a few variations and made some minor tweaks to try to perfect it, so here is my version. This is really good. Too good. Especially considering how ridiculously easy it is to throw together.

4 tbsp flour
4 tbsp sugar
2 heaping tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp milk or soy milk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg or egg substitute
drop of vanilla
Whatever mix-ins you want, chocolate chips, walnuts (my favorites)

Mix together the dry ingredients. In another container mix together the wet ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients. Split between two coffee mugs. Microwave for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Serve with a spoon.

I have covered this in a quick chocolate buttercream (1/2 tbsp room temp butter, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, enough milk to get it to a good consistency) and also with whipped cream. It's seriously like a normal chocolate cake.

Spinach with Penne and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

OK, so this recipe is really called Rapini with Orzo and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. But the first part of the recipe says, "This recipe is pretty and delicious as is, but it's also extremely versatile." So I tested the versatility by making some substitutions to accommodate what I had laying around the house.

Spinach from last night's spinach dish? Check. Penne I've had sitting in my cupboard for a few months? Check.

Taste: 4 (G gave it a 4.5)
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
4 (6 points for one serving)

Maddie Friendliness:
2 (She just doesn't do well with spicy things)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 3.6

It was really easy to make, basically chop stuff, boil some pasta, toss it all together. Tasty too, G only gave it a 4.5 because he feels compelled to be a little more judicious with the 5s.

Recipe adapted from Quick-Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson

1 bunch rapini coarsely chopped (Also called broccoli rabe. I used spinach instead.)
1 1/2 cups orzo (I used penne pasta instead)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  1. Boil the rapini (or spinach) in salted water for about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the rapini (or spinach) from the water and set aside.
  2. Return the water to a boil. Add the orzo (or penne). Cook until it is al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain and set aside
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  4. Add the red pepper flakes, sun-dried tomatoes, and reserved rapini (or spinach).
  5. Cook until the rapini (or spinach) is tender, about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the orzo (or penne) and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve sprinkled with pine nut

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Potatoes and Spinach in a Garlic-Red Chile Sauce

Tonight I cooked New Potatoes and Spinach from the cookbook 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. Palak Aloo is one of my all time favorite Indian dishes, so I decided to try one of the several potato/spinach dishes in this cookbook first. It is not like the Palak Aloo that they serve in restaurants. It's loaded with Cilantro! The consensus was that we loved it! Garison gave it 4.5 stars on his 5-star scale. It was also really easy to prepare with the help of my trusty food processor.

Taste: 4.5
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
4 (3 points for one serving of the spinach (without rice). Filling too!

Maddie Friendliness:
3 (well, she ate the rice)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 3.9

Yay! Easy and delicious. Can't get much better. :)

Recipe (from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer)

New Potatoes and Spinach in a Garlic-Red Chile Sauce (Lasoon Batata Palak)

2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 medium-size cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed coarsely chopped (do not remove the seeds) (I used half of the recommended chiles because Maddie hates spicy food)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 pound baby new potatoes, scrubbed and sliced in half (I used fingerling potatoes)
1 large tomato, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 tbsp crumbed jaggery or firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt
8 oz fresh spinach leaves, well rinsed and coarsely chopped

1. Heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cok until they turn reddish brown and smell nutty, 5 to 10 seconds. Immediately throw in the garlic and chiles. Stir-fry until the garlic turns honey-brown and the chiles blacken, about 1 minute.

2. Sprinkle in the turmeric, and carefully pour in 1 cup water. Stir to deglaze the pan, releasing any brown bits of garlic. Add the potatoes, tomato, cilantro, jaggery, and salt. Stir once or twice, and heat to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fall-apart tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Add the spinach, a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring until wilted (about 1 minute per batch). Then serve.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I want this apron (or another super cute apron) soooo badly!!! I hate ending up with messy clothes after dinner almost every night. :(

Weekly Menu for the Week of 12-Jul-09

Mostly took last week off from cooking. Made a couple of interesting things through improvising, but since I wasn't feeling well, I mostly used up leftovers and pasta sauces in my cupboards. Last night I tried my hand at roasted vegetable pizza. It turned out ok. Good solid pizza, but nothing terribly exciting. Tonight I had pizza with caramelized pears, toasted hazelnuts, and Gorgonzola cheese. That was completely amazing! Wish I had cooked it. ;)

I'm trying almost entirely new recipes this week, though. I bought 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer and am trying a couple of recipes from there. I'm also trying some new recipes from Quick-fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson. I got that one for Christmas and haven't really tried anything from it yet.

New Potatoes and Spinach (660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer pg 580)
Monday: Pasta with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes (Quick-fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson pg 98)
Tuesday: Udon Noodles with Sesame Crusted Tofu (Vegan Dad)
Wednesday: Gingered Red Lentils (660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer, pg 398)
Thursday: pasta with edamame pesto (Quick-fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson pg 130)
Friday: Pizza with sun-dried tomato pesto

Monday, July 6, 2009

Vegan Mint Chocolate Cupcakes and Roasted Potato Salad

I made these cupcakes a few weeks ago and they were delicious! They even looked pretty. My sister asked me to post the recipe, so here is the link. Thank you to Rae at bunnyfoot.

I also made a potato salad this weekend. It was the simplest recipe in the world.

Roasted Potato Salad

5 cups of potatoes in about 1 inch cubes
1 onion cut in large pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly grated pepper to taste
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar or to taste
3 tbsp parsley (optional)

  1. Preheat oven at 425 degrees.
  2. Mix together the potatoes, onion, and olive oil, freshly grated pepper and salt.Toss until the potatoes and onion are well coated with oil.
  3. Place on a cookie sheet in one layer.
  4. Cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Remove from the oven and turn the potatoes over.
  7. Cook 20 more minutes or until the potatoes have browned.
  8. Remove from the oven and stir in the balsamic vinegar and parsley.
  9. Serve either warm or cold.

A Week on the Cheap

This week, I'm going to try to get by without grocery shopping. This presents a pretty big challenge for me.

I have never been good at improvising with what I have. I did some cataloging of what I have in my cupboards. Remember how when I made tacos last week I said I couldn't wait to try the potato tacos? Well, I had blue corn tortillas, potatoes, and some taco seasoning.

I followed the recipe here, with the following modifications:

  • I chopped up an onion (inspired by a roasted potato salad I made over the weekend) and added it to the roast pan.
  • After I did that I threw in a green pepper and some garlic too.
  • I didn't have black beans, so I threw some chickpeas in with the potatoes for roasting too (hey, worked the last time).
Conclusion? Pretty much any vegetables coated in taco seasoning and roasted are awesome and taste delicious in tacos. Seriously, I'd eat the filling by itself.

Tomorrow I'm going to make some dal with some of the gallons of lentils I seem to have in my cupboard. I'm going to try the recipe here.

I did some cooking over the weekend and had some recipe requests. I'll be posting more or links to more shortly!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crunchy Blue Corn Chickpea Tacos

Recipe can be found at Veggie Terrain.

Taste: 4.5 (Garison gave these a 5)
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
3 (6 weight watchers points per taco when you consider all of the toppings I used
Maddie Friendliness:
3 (well, she ate the blue corn tortilla...)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 3.7

My husband loved this one. In his words "Anything that involves blue corn tortillas and avocado is pretty much going be my favorite food."

The chickpeas were nice and spicy and added a lot of flavor to the tacos. I am now anxious to try Veggie Terrain's potato taco recipe. I need to use up the rest of those blue corn tortillas, after all. ;)

Pizza Crust

My sister-in-law asked me for my pizza crust recipe, so here it is! This recipe is basically Deborah Madison's pizza recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

  • 1 package dry yeast (or 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt


Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 10 minutes or until frothy. Add the wheat flour and the all-purpose flour. If you have a mixer, let it mix on the bread hook until the dough has formed a neat ball around the bread hook.

If you do not have a mixer, stir the flours into the water until the dough is well-mixed and slightly tacky. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil, turning to coat top. Cover with a damp, clean towel and let it rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and then cover and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. Roll each dough half into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. If you do not intend to use both crusts, freeze one in a freezer bag.

White and Brown Rice

I completely adore America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated. I love how they test recipes over and over again to find the, sometimes unexpected, best way to prepare things. I've gotten several old standby recipes from their website. Another thing that I love about them is the recipes they have for staples that show the best way to cook staples we sometimes take for granted.

A great example of this is rice. I have always struggled with rice, having so many problems with it sticking to the bottom or coming out a gluey, awful mess.

The recipes from Cook's Illustrated saved my rice-dependent dishes. So, because my mother requested this, here are the recipes I use for white and brown rice.

White Rice


2 teaspoons unsalted butter , vegetable or olive oil
1 cup long grain white rice (not converted)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon table salt


Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on desired amount of nutty flavor. Add water and salt; bring to boil, swirling pot to blend ingredients.

Reduce heat to low, cover with tight lid lined with a towel, and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minute

Turn off heat; let rice stand on burner, still covered, to finish cooking, about 15 minutes longer. Fluff with fork and serve.

Brown Rice


6 cups water
1 cup brown rice
2 teaspoons olive oil or butter
1 teaspoon table salt


Bring water to boil in a large pot. Stir in rice, oil or butter, and salt. Simmer briskly, uncovered, until rice is almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Drain rice into a steamer basket that fits inside the pot. Fill pot with about 1 inch water and return to heat. Place basket of rice in pot; cover and steam until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Scoop rice into a bowl and fluff gently with a fork.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cuban Black Beans + Rice Review

Recipe can be found at Veggie Terrain.


Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
5 (3 weight watchers points for a huge and beautiful pile of black beans
Maddie Friendliness:
3 (She ate the rice so that's...something)
Cost of Ingredients: 4
Overall: 4

I really liked this one! Easy, flavorful, nutritious...can't get much better. This one is definitely going into the old standby list.

I served this with steamed green beans with olive oil and rock salt. If anyone has easy ways to prepare green beans, please share! Maddie ate the green beans well, so I get good mom points for that, at least, lol.

For more on my ratings system see Recipe Ratings: A Guide.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Recipe Ratings: A Guide

I have a slightly complicated system for rating recipes. I rate each recipe by five topics on a scale from 1-5:
  • Taste
  • Ease of Preparation
  • Weight Friendliness
  • Maddie Friendliness
  • Cost of Ingredients
Taste: The score for the dish's deliciousness. My husband and I both rate the dishes for taste, so this is kind of a cumulative score. I am kind of picky, having given only two or three dishes a 5 in my entire lifetime. Those dishes, though, are the ultimate as judged by my taste buds.

Ease of Preparation: Work nights, I tend to prefer easier recipes. This rating allows me to sort through easier recipes on nights when I just won't have a lot of time.

Weight Friendliness: I am someone who has struggled with my weight since I was a teenager. I consider myself someone with an eating disorder. This rating allows me to search for recipes that are better for me. These tend to be my every day meals. I do like to have not so good recipes once or twice a week, though. ;) I will also list weight watchers points.

Maddie Friendliness: Maddie is my daughter. This rating is based on how she responded to the meal. She is a toddler and kind of picky, so this is also a crucial score for whether a meal becomes a regular meal at my house.

Cost of Ingredients: I have a budget for this house, so this score helps me to choose recipes that will not make me cry at the checkout counter.

How do I use these ratings? Well, I actually have a spreadsheet with all of the dishes I've prepared and their ratings that I can sort through if I'm looking for an old standby to prepare. The spreadsheet also helps me because I list main ingredients so if I'm looking for a way to use up stuff hanging out in my refrigerator, it provides an easy way to do that.

Spicoli Burgers Review

I have been looking for a veggie burger recipe that is pretty easy to make and does not contain mushrooms (blech) for awhile. I stumbled across the veggie terrain blog while searching for a recipe for Cuban Rice and Beans. I started reading other posts and came across the recipe for Spicoli Burgers. I had to try it! It was great! I will definitely be using it again!

The recipe can be found at veggie terrain.

Here are my rankings for the recipe on a 1-5 scale.

Taste: 4
Ease of Preparation:

Weight Friendliness:
4 (3 weight watchers points per burger and v
ery filling)
Maddie Friendliness:
2 (she didn't eat any of it, though she may have gotten distracted by the sweet potato fries)
Cost of Ingredients: 3
Overall: 3.4

With the burgers, I served Alexia Spicy Sweet Potato Fries.

Maddie ate these so quickly that my husband and I made donations to her from our own plates. She loved them! Though this did end quickly when I think she realized that they were spicy. She started to cry and stick out her tongue. We tried to offer her water, but she would not take it! They are pretty good for pre-packaged sweet potato fries. The spice tastes sort of like barbecue sauce. They don't taste that spicy initially, just kind of sweet, but there is definitely a little bit of an afterburn.

For more on my ratings system see Recipe Ratings: A Guide.

Menu for the Week of 28-Jun-09

Here are the planned meals for this week. I am going to take it a little easy since the last couple of weeks have been so stressful. I am trying three new recipes, though, all of them seem pretty basic. Thank you to jd from Veggie Terrain for the recipes. The post about smoothies got me thinking too. I made a smoothie this morning with fresh fruit and Maddie LOVED it. This could be an easy and delicious way to get her to eat some more fruit/vegetables.

Sunday: Spicoli Burgers with sweet potato fries
Monday: Cuban Black Beans and Rice
Tuesday: Crunchy Blue Corn Chickpea Tacos with corn on the cob
Wednesday: Gnocchi with Poor Man's Pesto (from The Mediteranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein)
Thursday: Sichuan Broccoli w/ Tofu (from Cook's Illustrated)
Friday: Pizza (from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison)

A few
words about the older recipes I included this week.

Poor Man's Pesto from The Mediteranean Vegan Kitchen is one of my favorite old standbys. It is easily prepared in under 5 minutes with just my trusty food processor. The flavor is intense but G and I love it. Maddie is starting to come around too, though it takes her a long time to learn to like strong flavors.

Sichuan Broccoli is also one of my favorite easy stand-bys. It is very easy to prepare (I use frozen broccoli to cut down on cooking time). It is
a nice, spicy stir-fry.

Pizza is something we consider our Friday night tradition. The crust recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is outstanding. It cooks up nice and crisp on our pizza stone. If you like making pizza, I highly recommend buying a really nice pizza stone. The $10 pizza stones from Target are not the same as a good, heavy stone. Our pizza stone will cook up a beautiful pizza in 7 mins. It's also fun for kids because you can have them help you put the toppings on. One night we even had a pizza night at my brother's house where we cooked four very different pizzas customized for everyone. Everyone present was happy. :)