Thursday, September 2, 2010

Peach Pie

Recipe courtesy of: Weezie M.

Actually, it's more of a cake than a pie, but whatever you call it, it's awesome. This cake is incredible- refreshing, sweet, moist, a perfect mix of sugar & fruit. The soft cake has fresh sliced peaches mixed in, and cinnamon sugar topping. It tastes wonderful with a little peach ice cream... ideally from a place called Four Seas in Cape Cod :-)

  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon rind
  • 2 eggs
  • 7/8 cup (or 1 cup minus 2 Tablespoons) sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups of peaches (fresh sliced and peeled, or canned)

  1. Cream the butter and gradually add 1/c cup sugar and lemon.
  2. Beat until light & fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add the sifted flour mix ¼ cup at a time, and beat after each addition.
  6. Pour ½ the batter into a greased 8 inch square pan.
  7. Cover with peaches and then top with the remaining batter.
  8. For a topping, combine 1/3 cup sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle over the cake.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes at 350°.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spinach Squares

Recipe courtesy of: Gail

These spinach squares are delicious & easy to make- great for dinner any time of year.

  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted in a 9 x 13 pan
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Cup of flour
  • 1 Cup of milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 lb of grated Monterey jack cheese
  • 2 10-oz boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (wring out most of the water)

  1. Melt butter in pan in oven (watch so it doesn't burn).
  2. Beat eggs, flour, salt, baking soda, and milk.
  3. Add cheese and spinach and then turn the mixture into the pan.
  4. Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes.

Notes: These are good as leftovers too :-)

Thanks Gail!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oatmeal Chunky Monkeys

Adapted from Quaker Oatmeal "Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies"

These delicious cookies cut back on the fat without compromising on taste by substituting banana for some of the butter. The original recipe these come from is called "vanishing" for a reason... they are so tasty it's hard to keep them around!

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick margarine or butter, softened at room temp
  • 3 cups of oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 package of chocolate chunks
  • 1 large Banana

  1. Heat oven to 350°
  2. Beat together in a large bowl: Butter, banana, and sugars until creamy
  3. Add eggs and vanilla to the large bowl & mix well
  4. Mix together in a small bowl: Flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well.
  5. Add the flour mix to the ingredients in the large bowl. Mix well.
  6. Stir in oats (and raisins if using original recipe).
  7. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
For the original recipe, use 2 sticks of butter instead of banana, and add 1 cup of raisins.
Want a holiday version? Try using the original recipe but with dried cherries or cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tomato Pie

Recipe courtesy of: Weezie M.

This is one of the dishes we love to have when we have dinner on Cape Cod with our good friends Weezie & John. The pie is great as an accompaniment to a meal, or as the main course itself. It is delicious and light-tasting, perfect for summer.

  • 1 Pillsbury Pie Crust
  • Swiss cheese, sliced, enough to cover pie
  • 3-4 Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 8-10 Ritz crackers
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter

  1. Cook pie crust as directed for one crust baked shell and let cool.
  2. Line bottom of pie crust with thin slices of Swiss cheese.
  3. Cut tomatoes into thick slices and put on top of cheese. Do not overlap.
  4. Mix one cup of parmesan cheese with one cup of mayo. Add a pinch of garlic. Spread this mixture over the pie.
  5. Top with crushed Ritz Crackers(8-10) and dot with butter.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


(AKA Butterscotch Rice Krispie Treats)

It's amazing what some butterscotch chips can do! My first experience with these incredibly addictive sweet treats was on my high school lacrosse team- various team members would bring post-game treats, and one of favorites was the scotcheroo. (Originally, they were covered with a layer of chocolate, but I actually prefer them without now). This recipe is so simple it barely requires an ingredient list and steps, but I'll indulge you.

  • 6 cups Rice Krispie Treats
  • 1 bag of marshmallows (regular-sized big ones)
  • 3 Tbs butter or margarine
  • 3/4 of a bag of butterscotch chips
  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the marshmallows and continue to melt, stirring occasionally.
  3. When the marshmallows are almost completely melted (they still have a little shape to them but have blended together) add 1/2-3/4 of the bag of butterscotch chips.
  4. Stir until melted, only 1-2 minutes more.
  5. Add in the rice krispies and mix quickly to coat.
  6. Immediately transfer to a greased pan and spread into pan. You may need to wait a few minutes until the mix has cooled a bit to spread it evenly.
Notes: As mentioned, these can be addictive. Cut them in smaller pieces than you usually would, as they are very sweet (but that doesn't stop people from eating them up quickly!) These are a great party addition, and are becoming my new 4th of July staple treat.

Variations: For a while I was drizzling melted chocolate over the top, to stay closer to the original scotcheroo. You can also go all-out and do the full chocolate topping: melt chocolate in a saucepan (baker's chocolate, follow package instructions for sweetening) and spread over the krispie treats in the pan.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Shiitake Mushrooms with Young Pecorino Cheese

From: Bon Appetit Culinary Series, Sur La Table Cooking Class

I didn't think I was going to like this appetizer, since I don't usually go out of my way for mushrooms, and I'm wary of new cheeses. But wow, this is a refreshing change to your usual cheese & cracker app, and has a vibrant, delicious taste that is definitely a good way to start off a cocktail or dinner party.

Serves: 6
  • 7 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 8 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon, peel cut into long thin slivers (yellow part only- avoid cutting into white pith)
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cut into 1/2 inch wide slices or left whole if diameter is smaller than 1 and 1/2 inches
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and flattened
  • 6 ounces of young pecorino cheese (pecorino fresco) or Monterey Jack for milder taste, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
  1. Whisk 5 tsp lemon juice and the mustard in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in 6 Tbsp of olive oil. Stir in the lemon peel slivers. Season with coarse salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Toss mushrooms, remaining 2 tsp lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp oil in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle the mushrooms with salt & pepper. Roast for 15 min. Using a spatula, turn the mushrooms over and roast until soft and beginning to brown at edges, about 10 more min.
  3. Remove from oven and pour half of the lemon & mustard dressing over the hot mushrooms. Add the garlic clove and toss to coat. Let cool on the cooking sheet.
  4. Combine the mushrooms, cheese, parsley, and remaining dressing in a medium bowl. Let marinate at least 1 hr and up to 2 hours in the fridge.
  5. Discard the garlic clove and serve with toothpicks.
Notes: Young pecorino is not the same as pecorino toscano or romano, so make sure you get the right kind. If you're like me and aren't sure about your cheeses, ask for a sample- any nice place like Whole Foods or the like will be happy to let you try some. Also, the mushrooms aren't cheap, but you do need the full pound, since they shrink a little while roasting and this appetizer is really about the combination of all the ingredients together. When cutting the lemon, use a small knife, peeling almost like an apple and avoid cutting deeply into the white part of the lemon peel. You want thin strips. It's amazing how good they taste in this combination.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cauliflower Mousse

From: Spa Cuisine at Home, Chef Nadine, BCAE class

Low in calories in fat, this makes for a healthy, creamy-tasting side that pairs easily with many dishes and is a nice change from your regular-old mashed potatoes.

Serves: 7

  • 1 head of cauliflower (1 quart raw)
  • 6 oz Neufchatel cheese
  • 3 egg whites
  1. Cut the cauliflower into small pieces and steam until just tender to the bite.
  2. In a food processor, combine the egg whites and cheese and blend until smooth.
  3. When the cauliflower is finsihed, add it immediately (while still hot) to the egg & cheese puree in the processor. Puree until smooth and looks like mashed potatoes.
  4. Serve hot.
Notes: It's important to keep the cauliflower hot, since it needs to cook the egg.

Nutrition facts: (per serving): 81 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated fat), 5g protein, 1g fiber, 17mg cholesterol, 4g carbohydrate, 143mg sodium.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Italian White Bean Soup

From: Spa Cuisine at Home, Chef Nadine, BCAE class

Here's another quick, easy, delicious, healthy dish. I love this soup, and it's totally satisfying. Because of the fresh-tasting veggies, I think it works any time of year.

  • 1 big can of GOYA white kidney beans (cannellini work too; 16oz)
  • 1 can water (fill the GOYA can after emptying beans)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 package of french string beans from Trader Joe's (note: I specify T Joe's here because something about these frozen green beans, and no other, keep them tasting fresh and amazing in this soup. You can also substitute 1 bunch of fresh spinach here, which is what the original recipe calls for. I like the green beans better though.)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Cook onion and celery in the oil for about 5-8 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, continually stirring.
  2. Stir in the can of beans. Without rinsing the can, fill it with water and add to the saucepan.
  3. Stir in the pepper, thyme, and additional water if desired for more volume. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, simmering for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the frozen green beans to the saucepan and cook until thawed.
  5. Stir in lemon juice and remove from heat to serve.
Notes: By not washing the can of beans, you get a creamy flavor to the soup without any actual cream or milk. You can also use vegetable stock if you prefer, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how tasty something so simple can be.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Artichoke Griddle Cakes

From Everyday Greens, by Annie Somerville

I am in love, love, love with Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. It is a vegetarian's dream. The first time I went, it was our one-year wedding anniversary, and I was feeling only slightly guilty my husband had sacrificed yet another night of eating meat to go to a vegetarian place- until I had the best caprise salad of my life (ridiculous tomatoes! amazing balsamic! where did they find this stuff?!), followed by an out-of-this world fresh-corn filled crepe with tons of veggies.... followed by the best lemon dessert in the world... seriously, I cannot gush enough about the food at Greens. The second time we went, it was even better, and my parents AND my husband (none of whom are vegetarians) were all blown away by the freshness, the flavors, the overall just plain delicious food. I actually savored eat bite, literally- and when was the last time you really remembered doing that?

Hmm... so I may have built up this dish a little too high then. My point is, Greens is awesome, so I was inspired to get one of Annie Somerville's cookbooks. I'm certain she would do a much better job than I did at making these tasty little griddle cakes, but it's worth trying your hand at them.

  • 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced and washed (about 1 cup)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 white wine.....optional: plus a glass or two for yourself while you're cooking :-)
  • 2 lbs of SMALL artichokes, trimmed (3 and 1/2 to 4 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 lb whole milk ricotta cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 3 large eggs, separated (keep both the yolk and the white, in separate bowls)
  • 2-3 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2-3 Tbsp)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp minced lemon zest
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Vegetable oil for the pan
  1. Prep the little artichokes: Little artichokes are side shoots of the artichoke that are too young to develop a choke inside, so you just need to trim the top and bottom and peel off the tough outer leaves. This can be done ahead of time: just store them in lemon water in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add the leeks, 1/2 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cook until they begin to soften, about 2-3min. Add the garlic and cook 1 min more.
  3. Pour the wine into the pan with leeks & garlic and cook until pan is nearly dry, about 3min. Add the artichokes and water. Simmer until the artichokes are completely tender, about 10 min. Drain off any excess liquid and set aside to cool.
  4. Once cooled, coarsely chop the artichoke mixture.
  5. Combine the ricotta, egg yolks, cheeses, milk, herbs, lemon zest, and juice in a large bowl. Stir in the artichoke mixture, flour, baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper.
  6. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks and gently fold them into the batter.
  7. Coat a skillet with vegetable oil. Over medium-high heat, spoon the batter into the pan, allowing about 1/4 cup per cake. Cook for about 3min on each side, until the cakes are lightly browned. Add fresh oil to the pan between batches of cakes.
Notes: So, in case you were thinking of it, no, you cannot use regular-sized artichokes. I tried and failed miserably. I ended up using frozen artichoke hearts instead, which are actually not a bad substitute if you can't find the little artichokes, and a fairly nice time-saver- just be sure to use the correct amount. For the life of me, I could not get those darn egg whites to form stiff peaks, so I finally gave up and just added them to the bowl...which may have led to my next problem: My first batch would not stick together. But, like regular pancakes, the first batch isn't usually the best, so I kept on and ended up getting some nice cakes after that- I think it works best to keep them small and be ready with TWO spatulas to flip when you see little bubbles coming through the top. (I did save the scrambled mess from my first round and had it for lunch the next day, because hey, it still tasted good, and Gruyere cheese isn't cheap). I stored the griddle cakes in a heated oven until ready to serve all of them. Finally, my husband was determined to put something on them, so I suggest some sour cream with fresh chives. Overall, I found this recipe neither quick nor easy- there are a lot of ingredients and some fairly intensive steps-but it was tasty!

Annie has a nice description of how to prep the artichokes in her book (step 1 summarizes her tips). I'm excited to try more recipes from this cookbook (but wary of the culinary skills and ingredients that might be required....)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Corn and Avocado Salad

From: Whole Foods recipes

Another corn salad! This is a slight variation on last week's corn salad recipe, but different enough that it warrants it's own post. My friend Paula introduced it to me, and it was love at first bite. The addition of the avocado gives it a nice hearty but healthy creaminess, while the dressing and cilantro add a fresh bright flavor.

Serves: 4

  • 4 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed from cob
  • 1 cup of halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  1. Steam the corn in a large pot until just tender but still crisp, about 3 min. Cut from cob with large knife.
  2. Whisk together the oil & vinegars, adding the onion.
  3. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and toss to mix well.
Notes: As with the other corn salad, it's all about fresh sweet corn here. Substituting frozen corn won't cut it. The recipe on Whole Foods suggests pairing this with a salmon dish, but since I don't eat salmon, you don't get that recipe here! We paired it with artichoke griddle cakes and it made for a nice meal. Something Mexican-inspired would also work well with this side dish.

Here's another variation: Corn Salad with Beans & Avocado.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sweet Potato and Parsnip Puree

From: Gourmet Magazine, via Epicurious

Did I mention I love parsnips? This side makes a nice substitute for the much less-healthy but traditional candied yams we always had for Thanksgiving and Christmas growing up. Actually, my husband found this recipe and first made it for Thanksgiving, and when he suggested we nix the candied yams for this dish I was incensed; but, after tasting it, I LOVED it. (So shhh! Don't tell my mom, but for the past 2 years we've been making this dish as a staple side instead of the brown sugar-topped sweet potatoes. But I'll still post the recipe for those later, as they ARE delicious too...) The flavor of the parsnips really comes through in this heavenly whipped dish, making it just a little bit different and exciting.

Serves: 4 (ie, you might as well double it if it's Thanksgiving!)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and parsnips and boil gently until tender, about 12 min. Drain well and transfer to a food processor.
  2. Add butter while the potato/parsnip mix is still hot, and puree until smooth.
  3. Add milk, brown sugar, and salt, and blend well.
  4. Season with pepper to taste and serve.
Notes: The pureeing can be a bit of a time-consuming process to get that smooth consistency, but stick with it- it's worth it. You can prepare this early and reheat it, but I think it's best fresh.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad

From: Bon Appetit culinary series, Sur La Table cooking class

This salad is absolutely delicious, a wonderful start or side to a fall meal. Often I find arugula too bitter, but when paired with these ingredients, it's perfect. The roasted butternut squash is amazing.

Serves: 6


  • One 2lb butternut squash, peeled and seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 and 1/2 to 5 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp of walnut oil or other nut oil
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces of arugula (about 8 cups lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses (this is a thick pomegranate syrup that is honestly hard to find- apparently it's in some Middle Eastern markets- ummm....where are they?- and online at - it's delicious, so if you end up finding it, I'd buy some; if not, you can try substituting other items as a dressing- a balsamic vinegrette may work, but it's not as good...)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss squash, olive oil, and crushed red pepper on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Roast for 15 min. Using spatula, turn squash over. Continue roasting until edges are brown and squash is tender, about 15 more min. Sprinkle with more coarse salt. Note: This can be done 2 hrs ahead, and let stand at room temp.
  2. Whisk orange juice, walnut oil, and lemon juice in a large shallow bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add arugula, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds (or cranberries) and toss to coat.
  3. Spoon the warm or room temperature squash over the salad. Drizzle with the pomegranate molasses and serve.
Notes: I'd actually recommend buying the pomegranate molasses. It's only 5 bucks online, and wow, it really makes the salad. It's a unique ingredient that could be used in other dishes as well to add a nice pop. This is an easy salad to make, with the only real time commitment being the squash. If you're having trouble cutting it, you can cook it a little bit (about 10 min) to soften. Also, note the "do ahead" option if you are having guests over and don't want to be cooking and entertaining.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sesame Ginger Tempeh with Soba Noodles

Adapted from: Spa Cuisine at Home, Chef Nadine, BCAE class

This Asian-inspired meal is a nice change from the ordinary, and packs healthy protein from both the soba noodles and the tempeh. Tempeh comes in a number of different flavors- I think I used a 5-grain version here, which worked well. The important thing is marinating the tempeh, since on it's on, tempeh's flavor is not really my favorite. But together, this makes for a yummy dish. I love the soba noodles. Grab your chopsticks and enjoy!

  • 1/4- 1/2 cup light soy sauce (go for low-sodium too)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (for cucumber) + 3 Tbs (for noodles)
  • 1/4 cup of sesame oil + 1 tsp (for brushing pan)
  • 3 tsp sucanat (I used plain-old brown sugar, and that works fine - 2 tsp for cucumber, 1 for tempeh)
  • 1 ounce of wakame seaweed (can't find it? no worries, the dish doesn't lose much by leaving it out)
  • 2 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 5 green onions, diagonally sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbs minced ginger root
  • 1 cucumber, julienned
  • 10 ounces Soba noodles, dry
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 shaved carrot (if desired)
  1. Steam the tempeh whole for 5-10 minutes. Cut into wedges.
  2. Combine ginger root, soy sauce, sucanat, and sesame oil and pour over steamed tempeh. Let marinade for 1-2 hours, turning at least once.
  3. Place the seaweed in a bowl and pour enough hot water over to cover it. Leave for 30min, then drain. Squeeze out any excess liquid and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Combine with cilantro and set aside.
  4. Julienne the cucumber and place in separate bowl with 1/2 cup rice vinegar and 2 tsp of sucanat/brown sugar.
  5. Prepare soba noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles in a colander and run under cold water. When they are cold, toss with the 3 Tbs of rice vinegar, the green onions, and salt.
  6. After marinating the tempeh, heat oven to 425 degrees. Brush baking pan with small amount of oil and place tempeh wedges in pan. Pour any remaining marinade over the tempeh and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and sauce is bubbly.
  7. Add the seaweed & cilantro mix to the soba noodles.
  8. To serve, place noodles on plate/bowl, garnish with cucumber salad mix and shaved carrots and add tempeh wedges.
Notes: The original recipe suggests marinating the tempeh for 2 or more hours. Not necessary! I marinated for 35min and the tempeh had plenty of flavor- actually, too much soy sauce in my mind. I'd suggest using 1/4 cup of soy sauce instead, and marinating for about 30 minutes. I'd also suggest playing around with the other sauce amounts- you want to marinate the tempeh but not drown it, so go according to your taste. Also, there are a number of places here where you can cut corners and not really sacrifice much flavor- the seaweed step, in particular, can be cut if you can't find seaweed or don't want to add an extra 30min to the preparation process. Also, I added shaved carrots to the dish; you could also slice them finely and cook them- either way, I think carrots are a good addition.

What Veg?

Following my last post, I ALSO often get asked what I usually eat as a vegetarian, and how I get my protein. Well, again, this site has (or will have in future postings!) a lot of my favorite dishes, but I thought I'd also list some of my favorite ingredients and products. Of course, a lot of it depends on the season and/or where you live (fresh is ALWAYS best!), but here are some of my staples:

  • Beans, beans, and more beans: Northern beans, Cannellini beans, Whole Foods refried beans with chile and lime, Bush's vegetarian baked beans
  • Edamame (soybeans- you can find shelled frozen ones in most grocery stores. My new thing is adding them to salads or as a pre-dinner snack with some sea salt on them)
  • Asparagus (fresh!)
  • Artichokes (I've re-discovered these- I really only like them fresh, not canned or frozen- fun to eat and yummy! When steaming them whole, try adding the juice of 1/2 a lemon to the water, and forgo the traditional butter dip- if they are fresh, they don't need it!)
  • Corn (fresh or frozen, NEVER canned)
  • Orange tomatoes (a nice change to the regular red, and a great pop of color to any salad)
  • Parsnips (OMG, I love Parsnips. Peel 'em, steam 'em, eat 'em).
  • Spinach
  • Snow peas (so crunchy, they make for a good chip substitute as an app with dips, or in your salad)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes (they add a great flavor to almost any dish)
  • Avocado (yep, it's a fruit; my husband inaccurately calls it "the butter of vegetables"- at least the 'butter of' part is right. Rich in omega-3's, avocados are a healthy indulgence)
  • Mango (interesting side note: Did you know the inner peel of the mango contains an oil related to that found in poison ivy? I found this out one summer after sticking my face in a mango peel to suck the juice out. I woke up the next morning to Angelina Jolie-sized lips, which would have been great, except that the swelling was caused by tons of tiny itchy painful bumps that were not only all over my lips but also surrounded them and were all over my hands. Now I can only have mango that has been cut for me.... earning me "princess" status in the mango department)
Grains & starches:
Dairy & spreads:
  • Greek yogurt (Fage Total brand, 0% - try it mixed with some fresh or dried fruit and a few walnuts- a great breakfast or snack since it's so low in sugar. It might take a little while to get used to the tangy flavor and whipped consistency, but most yogurt is loaded with way too much sugar so this is a much healthier option)
  • Cottage cheese, either non-fat or low-fat (excellent source of protein if you eat dairy. My favorite brand: Cabot!)
  • Sabra brand hummus (it's the smoothest, creamiest, best hummus!)
Herbs & Spices:
  • Basil (just about everything basil touches tastes good. Don't know what it goes with? Find the book Culinary Artistry- it is the ingredient bible to figuring out what flavors go together).
  • Dill- I also like dill a lot, but it's a tricky thing for me. I usually end up adding too much, and dill can go on a power trip, over taking your dish. Be forewarned!
  • Spike seasoning- a good addition to any veggie household- easy to add flavor to tofu, broccoli, or other veggies.
That's just a sampling. I love big salads filled with as many veggies as you can pile in, and dried fruit too (cranberries, figs, dates, golden and regular raisins- all good additions to a salad). I'm not gonna lie, there are more than a few times a month we have something like frozen pizza or your basic mac & cheese, but it's always good to add peas, broccoli, and/or spinach to get the green in. I also eat my fair share of protein & power bars (new fav: Power Bar's Smoothie flavor) as a filling fast breakfast or sometimes as a snack. And, I could probably eat cereal (has to be 2 types mixed, and with Silk light vanilla soymilk) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but I try to stay away from that :-)

Finally, I have a new favorite dessert:
Mochi icecream (Find it at Whole Foods (Bubbles brand) or Trader Joe's. It ain't cheap, but it's different and yummy).

Now that we're through with that, we'll get back to the recipes!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Why Veg?

I often get asked why I went vegetarian. I usually tell people that I don't like the taste of meat, which is accurate, but not the full story. For me, it was not a difficult struggle, where I went through meat cravings or felt like I was missing something by not eating meat. But it was a little bit of a journey to get to being a "real" vegetarian. There was one turning point that helped begin the process for me: when I was around 12 years old, I remember going to a fancy grocery store with my mom; when we walked by the meat counter and I saw the entire raw leg of some fairly large animal, that was it. I was like, aaaaaand, I'm done. Combined with my love of animals, the visual of the leg was enough to set me over the edge. However, I did continue to eat chicken for a few years after that through my teens, if for no other reason than to keep my mother sane while I was still living at home. But after going off to college, and reading the book "Skinny Bitch," I decided I couldn't stomach chicken either.

For a while after that, I was pescetarian- meaning I ate fish- although technically, I only ate "non-fishy tasting" fish, and rarely (I've never really fit into neat little categories!). I ended up cutting out all fish as well, and became full vegetarian (meaning no fish, chicken, or other meat whatsoever). I have also experimented with a vegan diet (additional thoughts on that here), and while currently dairy is part of my diet, I can't say for sure it always will be. I have a lot of respect for the vegan lifestyle (meaning no animal products whatsoever); but I also believe in balanced, healthy eating, and that that can be carved out in different ways for different people.

There are as many different variations to the vegetarian diet- including vegan, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian- as there are reasons people become vegetarian.

Over the years I'm finding it is getting much, much easier to be vegetarian; it's more common, there are more options, and non-veggie people are more willing to believe that it's not all about just eating tofu, as I'll hope you'll find on recipes on this site...

For more thoughts on vegetarian eating, click here. Also see posts labeled "food/life."

Thursday, July 29, 2010


From Bon Appetit culinary series, Sur La Table "Vegetarian Feast" cooking class

I was surprised to find out Sur La Table offers cooking classes; after taking one, I came home satisfied from a great night of delicious food, new techniques, fun people, and with a number of good recipes in hand. I was also surprised to realize I like succotash! Don't be afraid of lima beans!! They can be yummy, I promise!!! This dish is delish, healthy, filling, and quick & easy to make- the triple threat of cooking- more accurately, the quintuple threat!

Serves: 6

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cups of chopped red tomatoes (about 1 and 1/2 lbs- the fresher the better!)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 10-11 ounces frozen lima beans and/or baby butter beans, thawed (you can substitute canned navy beans, cannellini beans, or northern beans here too)
  • 3 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil
  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sprinkle with salt. Saute until soft and translucent, about 5min.
  2. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1min.
  3. Add chopped tomatoes, corn, and thawed beans. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until corn and lima beans are tender and tomatoes are soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in the sliced fresh basil just prior to serving.
Notes: If you are using canned beans, these can be added 5-10 minutes later through the cooking process. Also, steps 1-4 can be done ahead- either the day before or a few hours before- just re-heat prior to serving. Finally, I like adding BOTH lima beans and canned white beans- it adds more color, more protein, and more punch to the dish. The fresh basil really pulls everything together and makes it yummy. This is great for leftovers too- I like it cold for lunch!

Looking for a cooking class in your area? I was pleased with the Sur La Table options, and also found some interesting ones at Williams Sonoma. That's a good start, although they aren't cheap. Centers for adult education also often have them; I took a great one through Boston's BCAE when I was living there. Cooking classes are a fun way to get new ideas, meet new people, and enjoy a delicious, hands-on treat while learning something new!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables

Adapted from: Spa Cuisine at Home, Chef Nadine

If you haven't ever heard of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa), go out and buy some now. It's awesome. Quinoa is so healthy, full of fiber and protein, and is not like any other grain. It's not quite cous-cous, not quite rice... it's better. It lends itself well to being the base for many recipes, and is very filling but still very healthy. Most grocery stores today should have it, but Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are a sure bet. I was first introduced to this wonder-grain in a cooking class I took through the Boston Center for Adult Education, called "Spa Cuisine at Home." Not sure if they still offer this class, but it was wonderful and I got so many great recipes and techniques. I've edited the original recipe a bit over time, but no matter how you vary your quinoa dish it's easy to work with.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 and 1/4 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Optional; can use vegan Parm. for vegan, although I haven't tried)
  • 1-2 cups of broccoli
  • 1-2 cups of cauliflower (or full head of cauliflower)
  • 1/2 cup of yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Chop broccoli and cauliflower into small pieces and spread over a cookie sheet greased with olive oil. To avoid florets getting over crisped, you can loosely cover the pan with tin foil for the first 15-20min of cooking. Set timer to 45 minutes to roast the veggies.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic. Heat olive oil in a pot and add the onion, saute for about 1-2 minutes and then add the garlic and cook for about 1 more minute.
  3. Add the quinoa, water, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 14 minutes- you will see a white line in the quinoa grains - until the liquid is gone.
  4. Add the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, mixing, and then add the roasted veggies. Serve hot.
Notes: There are TONS of variations of this dish! Sometimes I add fresh chopped spinach to it too. The original recipe calls for arugula, shitake mushrooms, and carrots instead of broccoli & cauliflower (also good, but I love the flavor the roasted broccoli and cauliflower gives to the quinoa). Another good variation is to serve cold and add peas, olives, chopped fresh asparagus, and some dill & parsley for a summer version (leave out the Parm cheese though).

Also note that you can use 2 and 1/4 cups of vegetable stock (as opposed to part water); I just prefer to water down the stock as they are often chock full of sodium. Also, note that it's a good idea to rinse the quinoa before use.

*See my post of other grains for more healthy dishes like this!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fresh Corn Salad

From: Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, and Food

It doesn't get much easier than this quick salad/side dish. I first tried it at my friend Amy's house, and was amazed when she gave me the recipe that it was so simple. I think the secret is fresh ingredients.

  • 5 ears of corn
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 3 Tbsp of good olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp of cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup basil, chopped juilenne style
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
Serves: 4-6

  1. Shuck and steam the ears of corn in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from pot and run under cold water to cool.
  2. Using a large knife, cut the corn from the cob when it is cool, cutting close to the cob. Put into a large bowl. Add the olive oil & vinegar and toss. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Just before serving, cut basil and add to the dish, mix gently.
Notes: I like to add tomatoes (any kind work, but vine-ripe cut into bite-sized triangles) to this recipe. Also, it is really just as good with 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil only, if you don't have the vinegar and want to cut back on the dressing.

See also: My friend Paula's variation on this dish, with avocado and slightly different dressing, or my variation adding avocado & black beans.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Broccoli, Chickpea, and Tomato Salad

From: Great Food Fast


  • 1 pound broccoli
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • Coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (note: grape tomatoes also work, but the cherry ones taste better!)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp red-wine vinegar (note: Apple cider vinegar works here too!)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  1. Cut the broccoli florets from the stalk. Steam in large pot until crisp but tender, about 5 minutes (the book recommends using a steamer basket with 1 inch of water beneath). Rinse with cold water in a strainer after cooking to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, olive oil, and onion. Season with salt & pepper.
  3. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and broccoli. Toss to coat ingredients with the dressing. May be served at room temp or chilled.

Notes: This is very easy to make! I usually don't add the full amount of dressing, as I prefer it very light, but the recipe is not heavy as is, so just add slowly to your preference. And if you are looking for a good cookbook, I highly recommend Great Food Fast- it is filled with simple, quick recipes that don't require a lot of ingredients but that still taste great. But it's not a vegetarian cookbook, so if you are veggie, be prepared to pick through or do some substitutes.

Pictures and a variation: here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sweet Potato Salad with Apple and Avocado

From Vegetarian Times

Last year I subscribed to Vegetarian Times and was inspired to try lots of new dishes. While I can't say that all (or even most) of the recipes I tried I liked, this was a keeper. (To be fair, I did make a few mistakes, such as using barley when I should have used bulgar, and barley has about twice the cooking time... making for an unpleasantly crunchy dish...)

In any case, here it is, the yummy, filling "salad" that could be used as a side but I've considered more of a main course. It is good the next day as well as lunch!

Serves: 6

  • 1lb sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup unsalted hulled pumpkin seeds or pepitas
  • 1 medium red apple, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 avocado, finely diced (note: the Veg Times recipe calls for 1/2 an avocado, but hey, you might as well use the whole thing, right? I always did and it balances well, especially if you are using it as a main. Plus, avocados are rich in the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids- one of the good kinds of fat!)
  1. Put sweet potatoes in large pan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes.
  2. Add corn to the pan w/ the potatoes and cook 1-2 minutes more, or until potatoes are tender. Drain in colander and rinse under cold water to cool (and make sure the veggies don't overcook); drain well. Set aside.
  3. Toast pumpkin seeds or pepitas in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, about 3-4min or until they start to pop. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  4. Combine chopped apple, onion, cilantro, and lime juice in a large bowl. Stir in sweet potatoes, corn, and oil, and season with some salt & pepper.
  5. Just before serving, gently stir in the avocado and pumpkin seeds.

Tips: I may have liked this dish more than my husband, who thought it got too "mushy" - this is a good reminder to make sure you don't overcook the sweet potatoes, and you don't add the avocado too soon (ie, let the potatoes cool first, and don't mix too much!) More than a few times, I've just been lazy and stirred in the last 2 ingredients right after cooking everything, and then stored it in the fridge until dinner (hence the "mushy"). If you want to prep early, just leave the seeds out and store the avocado in a separate container in the fridge until you're ready to mix in, or better yet, cut the avocado just before serving (since it can discolor with time- one way to combat this is to use some lime juice though).

Nutrition information: (per 3/4 cup serving- note that adding the full avocado will increase this slightly): 179 calories, 3g protein, 9g fat (1g saturated fat), 23g carbs, 0mg cholesterol, 4g fiber, 8g sugar.
Here is the link to this recipe on Vegetarian Times.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chickpea and Spinach Saute

This recipe comes from my friend Lindsay, who got it from a Kronos class. It is yummy and filling, easy to make, and healthy too! Very good if you need to make a good-for-you meal quickly.

Ingredients: (serves: 2)
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes - finely chopped (buy the olive-oil pack)
  • 4 tsp oil - can use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup onion or shallot - finely chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves - minced
  • 1 cup (canned) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • dash freshly ground pepper
  • 6 cups spinach - coarsely chopped (fresh spinach is best)
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts or chopped blanched almonds (optional)
  1. Increase heat to medium and add oil. Cook the onion and garlic about 4 or 5 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, dried tomatoes, 2 tbsp. water and pepper. Heat through.
  2. Add spinach; cover and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until spinach is just wilted.
  3. If adding nuts: Toast nuts in ungreased skillet over low heat one minute, stirring to avoid over browning. Remove and set aside, add to dish when finished and ready to serve.

Nutrition information (per serving):
344 calories, 14g protein, 17g fat (7g polyunsaturated- the good kind of fat!; 6g monounsaturated; 3g saturated fat; 0g trans fat- the really bad kind of fat!), 41g carbohydrates.

Online recipes

A few years ago for Christmas I made my family a cookbook, a compilation of our family favorites, complete with the funny family photos to go along with the recipes. The challenging part, though, is that for the most part recipes, and food tastes in particular, aren't really a static thing. Ingredients get altered, or the compilation itself- the group of those favorites- gets added to or edited as time goes on. For example, I adopted a vegetarian diet during my early teens, so those sloppy joes and other meaty items I used to like would not be in my favorites today. Recently I got all gung-ho to make another, updated cookbook, adding some new favorites from my friends and various cooking classes I've taken, when I realized- the last thing I want is another book on my shelf! Most of the time these days, I go online to sites like those listed to the right under 'links' to find a new recipe or inspiration for something to make. I was also happy to find out, in enjoying a new recipe from a friend, that she had a food blog to share her dishes. Why not have my own blog to document my favorites and share them with others? So here we go!