Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chocolate Sorbet

The following recipe is really too good to be true. Delicious vegan ice cream! And no “weird” ingredients! I got the original recipe from Southern Living magazine. This is my version.

5 c. water
2 ¼ c. sugar
1 c. cocoa
1 bag vegan chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips with great results. The bag says it “may contain trace amounts of milk,” but milk is not a listed ingredient. I assume the disclaimer is just due to processing on machinery used for other, non-vegan products. If that doesn’t work for you, just pick a chocolate chip that does.)
about 15 lbs. ice for the ice cream freezer
rock salt

1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan. Boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved (about 1 minute). Whisk in cocoa until blended (no lumps). Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Gradually add the chocolate chips, whisking until smooth after each addition. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
2. Pour the chocolate mixture into the freezer container of a 4-quart ice cream freezer. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions, about 45 minutes.
3. Move the ice cream to your kitchen freezer, and let it “cure” in the freezer overnight.

This makes about 5 cups of unbelievably delicious ice-cream-like sorbet.

Fruit Smoothie

Here's a light, easy breakfast for people on the run. I made this one up. It's easy to modify - substitute whatever fruit and juice you like best!

1 medium banana, peeled and frozen (Do this ahead of time so it's ready when you're ready. Peel the banana, wrap in plastic wrap, and put it in the freezer.)
1/2 pint strawberries, washed and hulled
orange juice
handful of raw sunflower seeds, shelled

Cut the banana into 1-inch pieces. Put the strawberries in the blender, then the bananas, then pour in a little orange juice to give it some liquid to keep things moving. Be sure to put the non-frozen fruit in before you put the frozen fruit in. If you put the frozen pieces in first, the blender sometimes just cuts a path through them, and nothing moves around in the blender jar. Once everything is getting liquidy, toss in the sunflower seeds while it's still moving. Add enough orange juice to make the consistency you like. Pour it in an insulated to-go cup, and you're ready to hit the road, breakfast in hand!

Roasted Cauliflower Pizza

I know this is a little unconventional, and I admit that I was skeptical when I first saw it. But it was so vegan and coming from a magazine and article that were not catering to vegetarians, much less vegans, so I figured it must be good. I mean, they expected regular omnivores to try it and like it. And it IS good! It’s good right out of the oven, but I thought it was even better after being in the fridge overnight. Your call.
The original recipe is from Country Living magazine.

4 cups finely chopped cauliflower florets (This is about one head, and the finely chopping of the head into florets is the most tedious part of the recipe.)
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ t. salt
½ t. freshly ground black pepper
¼ c. bread crumbs
1 recipe vegan pizza dough, enough for one 14-inch or 15-inch round pizza (If you don’t have a recipe you like, I highly recommend the pizza crust alternative recipe in Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville. I omit the rye flour from her recipe.)

Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Roast the cauliflower mixture in a baking pan in a 400-degree oven until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the cauliflower from the oven, and increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface to a 14- or 15-inch circle. Transfer the rolled dough to a pizza pan. Top the dough with the roasted cauliflower, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the cauliflower. Bake the pizza until the dough is golden and crispy, about 12 – 15 minutes. The tips of the cauliflower will brown.

Mushroom Risotto

This is my adapted version of a recipe from Martha Stewart's Living magazine. It's an elegant, impressive dish that would be perfect for a romantic dinner or an intimate dinner party. It would do well served with a romaine salad, crusty European bread, and a bottle of wine.

1/2 c. walnuts or pine nuts (I like the pine nuts, but they can be pricey.)
1/2 c. fresh basil - Dried herbs will not work for this recipe.
1/2 c. fresh parsley - Dried herbs will not work for this recipe. You can omit the parsley and use 1 full c. of fresh basil instead.
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 t. salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 c. and 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups arborio rice - This is an expensive rice, but it cooks to a creamy risotto. It is the traditional risotto rice.
1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 c. dry white wine, like Chardonnay
5 1/2 c. vegetable broth (I used vegetable boullion.)

1. Toast the nuts by placing them in a small, nonstick skillet over medium heat. They should be in a single layer. Shake the pan around while toasting to move the nuts across the surface and prevent burning. When you begin to smell the nuts (just a few minutes), they are ready. Remove them from the heat.
2. Make the pesto by first pulsing the nuts in a food processor until they are coarsely ground, then adding the herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Process until everything is ground. Pour the oil in while the machine is running until everything is puréed. Set aside.
3. Bring the rice, mushrooms, wine, and 2 c. of broth to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has been absorbed. This takes about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Continue this cycle with 1/2 c. of broth at a time: add broth, cook and stir until the liquid is absorbed, add broth, cook and stir, etc. It will take 20 - 25 minutes to get all liquid absorbed. Once all liquid has been cooked in, remove the risotto from the heat. Stir about 1/2 of the pesto (more if you like) into the risotto, then serve the risotto immediately, topped with the remaining pesto.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta Stew with Beans)

This is a recipe I modified from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant by The Moosewood Collective. It's a really cool cookbook with recipes from various ethnic regions (including the Southeast US!) and countries, and the original recipe that I modified is in the Italy section. Don't let the kale turn you off. It actually MAKES the dish.

3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced - halve big slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch kale, washed, destemmed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 28-oz. can chopped tomatoes, with juice (Muir Glen has cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, and these really give the stew a wonderful smoky taste.)
1 can canellini or Great Northern beans (with juice this time!)
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley or 2 T. dried parsley
2 T. chopped fresh basil or 1 T. dried basil
oregano, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. pasta (short, chunky variety, like penne)

Start cooking the pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, and sauté the onion and carrot for a few minutes. Add garlic and kale. Stir unti the kale is wilted down but not drying out. Add tomatoes with juice, beans with juice, and herbs. You can add water to make it thinner if that is what you like. Don't add water to keep it stewier.
When the pasta is done cooking, drain, and mix with the bean and tomato sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn out into a serving bowl, and serve hot.

Tempeh Fajitas

Here is a vegan version of fajitas that even omnivores will love.

1 8-oz. package tempeh (I like LightLife's garden veggie tempeh.), sliced into fajita-sized slices
juice of 2 limes
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. salt
1/2 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, deseeded and deveined, sliced
3 t. canola oil plus 1 t. canola oil
flour tortillas (no lard ingredients)
fixin's (chopped tomato, salsa, pickled or fresh jalepenos, chopped green chiles, guacamole or avocados, chopped lettuce, pico de gallo etc.)

Mix the lime juice with the chili powder, cumin, and salt. You can also substitute the fajita-seasoning packet of your choice for the spices and salt. Marinate the tempeh slices in the lime juice mixture overnight.
Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and warm them in the oven on about 250 degrees while the fajitas are cooking.
In a non-stick pan, heat the 3 t. oil over medium-high heat. Put the tempeh slices in the oil, and let them fry in it until they have soaked up the oil. Add enough water to coat the bottom of the skillet, and let the tempeh soak that up, too. (It will also evaporate some.) Once the water is gone, add the remaining 1 t. oil, the onion, the bell pepper, and any leftover lime marinade. Sort of stir-fry everything together until the onion and bell pepper are cooked but still slightly crunchy. I have even been known to add one julienned carrot to the veggie mix here.
Once the veggies are cooked, load tempeh, veggies, and fixings onto the warmed tortillas, and enjoy!

Tuscan Beans with Tomato Sauce and Sage

This is a recipe I adapted from Ursula Ferrigno's Truly Italian cookbook - an excellent Italian vegetarian cookbook. It is highly recommended not only for the recipes, but for the beautiful photographs of Italy. This particular recipe is deceptively simple. The leftovers can be eaten atop crusty European bread as a snack. YUM!

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance.)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 T. dried/rubbed sage (more, if you prefer)
1 can chopped tomatoes with juice
2 cans canellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil and butter together in a medium saucepan. Add the sage and garlic and fry in the oil/butter mixture for 1 minute.
2. Add the tomatoes and tomato juice, the beans, the salt, and the pepper, and simmer together for 5 minutes until heated through.

Aloo Gobi (Indian potatoes with cauliflower)

This is my version of the recipe in Madhu Gadia's New Indian Home Cooking. When I moved to Hot Springs, AR, there were NO Indian restaurants in town, and I was devastated. I decided it was time to learn to cook some Indian dishes to keep from going mad! Here is one I rely on.

1 medium head cauliflower, washed and chopped into florets, slightly larger than the 1-inch potato pieces
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 T. expeller-pressed canola oil
1/2 t. cumin seeds (not ground)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 t. fresh ginger (not dried!), peeled and chopped
1/4 t. turmeric
1 t. salt
1/2 t. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 t. ground coriander seed
1/2 t. garam masala (Indian spice mix - McCormick makes a version)
1 T. chopped fresh cilantro
1 can chopped tomatoes

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds, and fry until they are golden brown (just a few seconds). Add the onion, and sauté until they are transparent (3-5 minutes). Add the potatoes, tomatoes (including juice), turmeric, salt, and cayenne (if using), and stir to combine. Cover with a lid, reduce heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes to give the potatoes a head start on the cauliflower.

Add the cauliflower and ginger to the pan, stir to coat everything again. Recover, and cook an additional 8 - 10 minutes, until the potatoes and cauliflower are both easy to pierce with a fork. Add the coriander and garam masala. Stir to combine.

Serve hot, garnished with cilantro.

Lemon Drop Sipper

Ok, I know adult beverages are not really "cooking", but this is a recipe I modified and love. The original was from The Ultimate A-To-Z Bar Guide by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. This cocktail recipe book is highly recommended! It has zillions of recipes, advice on all the proper barware and glasses to use for each drink, toasts, and witty drinking quotes. I modified this recipe to be weaker, because I'm kind of lame with drinking hard liquor. Make it stronger if it suits you.

juice of one large lemon
1 T. sugar
1/4 c. vodka
2 ice cubes

Put the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake like mad to try to dissolve the sugar. Strain it out into a cocktail glass (think martini glass), leaving the ice behind. Yum!

Vegan Lasagna

Ok, I tried a LOT of vegan lasagnas trying to find a good one. Believe me - there are a lot out there, but they really don't take the place of a good lasagna. This is good. This one works. I got the original recipe online, and it was called, "Destiny's Vegan-licious Lasagna." I don't remember the site address. This is my version of Destiny's lasagna.
Lasagna is nice, because you can make it ahead of time, put it in the fridge, then entertain effortlessly when the time is right.

1 box lasagna noodles (Some boxes have more than others. You need more than a skimpy box.)
2 jars of your favorite prepared tomato sauce for pasta (I like Fra Diavolo from Newman's Own.)
1 lb. tofu, roughly chopped (not the silken kind)
1/2 c. vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance. It does not have hydrogenated oils or trans-fats.)
1/2 c. rice milk (You can use soy milk, but I think soy milk lends its characteristic soy taste to anything made with it. Your choice, but rice milk stays neutral and does not lend a specific flavor to the dish.)
1 T. dried parsley
1 T. dried basil
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 c. chopped fresh vegetables, your choice (Be creative here. Think of thinly sliced carrots, chopped onion, chopped garlic, chopped jalepenos, corn kernels, green or black olives, capers, green or colored bell peppers, artichoke hearts, asparagus, pimentos, and on and on and on)
1 or 2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced (optional for the top of the lasagna)

1. Combine tofu, margarine (I usually melt it in the microwave first.), rice milk, parsley, basil, salt, oregano, and black pepper in a food processor until smooth. (You can do this in a blender, but you may need to do it in 2 batches.) Set aside.
2. Sauté the chopped fresh vegetables in the olive oil until they are soft with only a slight crunch to them. Set aside.
3. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. (Slightly - SLIGHTLY! - undercooked is okay.)
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While it is heating, get a huge baking dish (I use a 9.5 x 13.5, and it is a tight fit with sauce bubbling over during cooking!), and layer like this: tomato sauce, 1/3 of the noodles, 1/2 of the tofu mixture, all the sautéed veggies, tomato sauce, 1/3 of the noodles, 1/2 of the tofu mixture, all of the spinach, tomato sauce, 1/3 of the noodles, tomato sauce. If you are using the sliced tomatoes, cover the top with them now.
5. Bake lasagna 1 hour. Let stand 20 minutes after removing from the oven to set up, then cut and serve hot. Don't worry - it won't get too cool to eat during that 20 minutes! Enjoy!

Vegan Chili

This is a recipe from The NEW Farm Vegetarian Cookbook that I modified. It is my standard vegetarian chili recipe now. I had a dedicated meat-eater tell me this is the best chili she had tasted in her life! So there you go!

2 cans beans, rinsed and drained (I use 1 can of pinto and 1 can of red kidney beans, but you can use whatever you want. Black beans are supposed to be the least gas-producing beans, if that is a concern to you.)
1 c. TVP (This is Texturized Vegetable Protein. You can get it at Kroger in the health food section. I usually buy it in the bulk section of Whole Foods.)
7/8 c. boiling water
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. plus 2 T. chili powder
2 t. salt, divided
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. expeller pressed canola oil
3 1/2 c. tomatoes and tomato sauce and even water (You pick the combination, depending on how thick you like the chili. I use 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 can of petite-diced tomatoes, and a little water to wash the tomato residue out of the cans.)
1 t. cumin
pinch black or red pepper

1. Put the tomato mix, 2 T. chili powder, cumin, 1 t. salt, and black or red pepper in a large soup pot. Begin to simmer.
2. Add beans to the pot.
3. Soak TVP, garlic powder, 1/2 t. chili powder, and 1 t. salt in boiling water for 10 minutes, then add to the pot.
4. Sauté onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add to the pot.
5. Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes before serving, to allow the flavors to "marry." It is my personal opinion that this is even better the next day, after it has been in the fridge overnight.

Pasta al Salsa

This is a recipe I got from a Wild Oats cayenne pepper bottle - modified for my tastes. It's easy, it's pretty, it's tasty.

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 celery rib, minced (I have been known to just throw in celery seed when sauté-ing the veggies if I'm out of celery.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced (I have been known to substitute 1/2 medium onion if I'm out of bell pepper.)
1 1-lb 12-oz. can chopped or crushed tomatoes (chopped tomatoes makes a lighter, hot-weather-style sauce...crushed tomatoes makes a heavier, saucier sauce suited to cooler weather)
16 pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
1 t. capers
1 t. dried basil
1/4 - 1/2 t. cayenne pepper (depends on your tastes and those of your guests...more = spicier)
1 lb. spaghetti or other long-noodle pasta

Sauté celery, garlic, and bell pepper in olive oil over medium-high heat until soft. Add tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Add remaining ingredients, and simmer while cooking pasta according to package directions. When the pasta is done, drain it, toss with the sauce, turn into a serving bowl, and serve immediately.

Pico de Gallo

Here is a recipe I got from my "Granny" - my dad's mom. Of course, I modified it slightly. I have no idea where she got it, but this is perfect for picnics or alfresco dining during the summer, b/c there is no heating up the kitchen to make it!

1 medium onion, diced small
1 jalepeno pepper, deseeded and deveined, diced small
1/2 bell pepper, diced small
2 large tomatoes, chopped - squeeze out the seeds before dicing (Or you can just open a can of diced tomatoes if that is more your style! Granny was no-nonsense!)
1 T. chopped fresh cilantro
1.5 T. lime juice

Mix everything together in a bowl, and allow it to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavors "marry." Serve as a condiment or dip.

Tofu Chocolate Pie or Pudding

This is a recipe I modified from Mori-Nu, the only company I know that makes silken tofu. You need to use silken tofu for this recipe - not the crumbly Chinese kind. If you don't tell people this pie has tofu, they will likely rave about it! If you tell them in advance it has tofu...the less adventurous ones will likely not try it. Their loss!

2 packages silken tofu, (extra-firm for pie, firm for pudding)
3/4 c. raw honey
1 T. almond extract
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 prebaked pie crust or graham cracker crust (if making pie instead of pudding)
2 T. chopped nuts (optional topping for pie)

In a blender, purée each package of silken tofu individually until really smooth. Do one package, then move the smooth, puréed tofu to a large mixing bowl, then do the next package, and move that to the mixing bowl, too. Add the honey, almond extract, and cocoa. First, mix with a spoon to get the cocoa coated with liquid to prevent it from flying everywhere when you start the mixer. Then use a hand mixer to thoroughly combine all ingredients into a smooth, chocolatey batter.
For pies, pour the mixture into a prebaked pie shell. For pudding, pour into individual serving dishes or a serving bowl. Sprinkle chopped nuts, if using, over surface of pie. For either pudding or pie, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold.

Serving Suggestion: I have put a thin layer of raspberry or other fruit preserves in the pie shell before pouring in the tofu batter. You could also top with chocolate shavings or confectioner's sugar. For pudding, you can use it to make parfaits or top with berries or other fruit.

Peach Cobbler

This is a recipe I got from my "Peepaw" - my dad's dad. I have no idea where he got it or if he just made it up, but it never fails to please my dinner guests! An acquaintance from Puerto Rico literally photographed it before returning home so he could show his family this alluring dessert!

1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
1.5 t. baking powder (aluminum-free whenever possible - try Rumford brand in the red can)
3/4 c. sugar (or use 1 full cup of sugar if using fresh peaches)
3/4 c. milk (I like to use Organic Valley brand.)
1 stick real butter (Again, I like Organic Valley.)
1 large can of peaches in heavy syrup or an equivalent amt of fresh peaches, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a 9 x 9 baking dish in the oven. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Add the sugar and milk to the flour and mix. Pour the mixture in with the butter. Pour the peaches AND the syrup (if using canned peaches) over the mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes, and serve hot.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Smoky Penne with Corn and Cherry Tomatoes

This Pasta! It is perfect for a romantic meal or to impress company. I believe the original recipe came from "Vegetarian Times." Note to sinusitis and allergy sufferers: although the proteins in cow's milk will irritate your sinuses, the proteins in goat's milk will not. (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor!)

12 oz. penne pasta (of course, any short, chunky type of pasta will do)
1 chipotle chile (If you get this dried, soak it for 10 minutes in hot water to rehydrate it. If you get it packed in adobo sauce, the soaking is not necessary. If you like things SPICY, leave the seeds and veins in. If you are just looking for a slightly spicy but more smoky flavor, take the veins and seeds out of the pepper.)
2 T. olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 4-oz. goat cheese, plus more for crumbling and sprinkling, if desired (Note to vegetarians: not all cheese is vegetarian. Be sure your cheese does not contain rennet, which is the lining of calf stomachs. Look for labels that specify "vegetable rennet" and "vegetable enzymes.")
1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley
2 c. grape or cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels (Fresh is reallllly nice. Boil the corn cobs first to lightly cook the kernels. Overcooking will dry them out. Once they cobs are cooked, hold the cob upright and use a knife to slice the kernels away from the cob. Do this on a dinner plate or in a bowl to catch the kernels.)
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, finely chop the chipotle chile. (Note: adobo sauce will temporarily stain your plastic cutting boards and your hands and may permanently stain other things.) Heat 1 T. oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add chile and garlic, and sauté 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in goat cheese and 1/3 c. water. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until a smooth sauce forms, stirring constantly. Simmer 2 minutes more, then remove from heat and add remaining 1 T. oil.
3. Drain pasta, and return to the pot. Add tomatoes, corn, parsley, and cheese sauce. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to serving bowl, and toss in extra goat cheese crumbles, if desired.

Cuban Black Beans

This is adapted from a recipe my friend Elaine gave me. I am not sure what cookbook she may have gotten it from. She has advised me that my topping of fresh tomatoes is not properly Cuban. If you want to be authentic, top with chopped fresh white onion, per Elaine. Thank you, Elaine!

1 lb. dried black beans
1 T. salt
2 T. plus 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, deseeded and deveined, chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 bay leaves
1 T. dried oregano
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 c. prepared white rice (Ok to use brown if you're taking better care of yourself!)
chopped fresh tomatoes to garnish

1. Wash the beans well after picking through them to remove any stones. Put the beans in acovered pot with the salt and 2 T. olive oil and water to cover. Soak 8 hours or overnight.
2. Simmer beans in the same water. Add bay leaves, oregano, and ground pepper. Cook until tendter, 1.5 - 2 hours. Stir very little to avoid breaking the skins on the beans. Add additional water as they are cooking, if necessary. Cook the rice during this time so that it's ready to go when the beans are.
3. Sauté onion, peppers, and garlic in the remaining 2 T. olive oil until soft. Stir these into the finished beans. Remove the bay leaves.
4. Serve the beans over the cooked rice. Garnish with chopped tomatoes.

Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I know what you are thinking. Brussels sprouts. EEeew! But if you like cabbage or broccoli, it's fair to try this out. They're healthy. They're good!
You may have noticed that I like to give credit where it's due, so for the record, the recipe that this comes from was from Wild Oats (before they got bought out by Whole Foods). It is, as always, modified to suit my tastes.

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lemon
salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put Brussels sprouts in roasting pan. I actually put mine in a cast iron skillet. It is beneficial to vegans and vegetarians (disclaimer: I am not a doctor!) to cook in cast iron, b/c the food picks up iron from the cookware. Either way, put the sprouts in there, and toss with the olive oil. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, turning once with a spatula, until tender and browning. Toss the sprouts (I do it right in the pan, but if you are doing it properly, it'd probably be in the serving bowl.) with the lemon juice and salt to taste.

Carrot Mashed Potatoes

Here is one of my own making. I'm so proud, b/c it is not only yummy, but it looks beautiful on the table, and it's healthy to boot. Pale orange mashed potatoes! Now...I'm really relying on you to be experimental and adventurous (isn't that what this blog is about?) and have a sort of sense of what mashed potatoes are supposed to be like. Here goes...

* potatoes - You pick the variety and quantity. Peel them, and chop them into equal-ish sized pieces.
* carrots - about 1 carrot to every 1 medium-large potato, carrots peeled and chopped smaller than potato pieces
*garlic cloves - (optional) peeled - about 1 per every 2 potatoes used
*rice milk or reserved potato cooking water - Yes, you can use cow's milk or goat's milk or whatever you like. I use rice milk or reserved potato cooking water.
*vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance - no trans fats and no hydrogenated oils!) - Yes, you can use real butter, if you prefer.
*salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes, carrots, and garlic (if using) in a pot that will hold them plus water to cover them plus another couple of inches to handle boiling over possibilities. [COOK'S TIP: If you are using butter, open a stick and, with the paper still on the half you're holding, run it around the rim of the pot. This will prevent it from boiling over onto your stove if you are not paying attn. I have not tried this with margarine, but I bet it would work.] Boil everything until they are soft enough to be easily pierced with a fork (check a potato and a carrot). Once they are "done," take them off the heat, and drain out either (1) all of the water if you want to just use rice milk or another type of milk to obtain mashed potato consistency or (2) most of the water, leaving just enough [or slightly under enough, and you can use rice milk to add later, if necessary] to obtain the propr mashed potato consistency. Either way, it takes practice to know how much liquid you need in there to get the consistency right (for you). Leaving too little is better, b/c you can add later, but you can't take it back once you're mashing.

Using a hand mixer, add enough rice milk to get things going (if you did not leave potato water in there) along with margarine to taste. Use the mixer to get out all lumps. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep mixing. Taste it. Add more margarine if necessary. Add more rice milk if the potatoes are too thick. Add rice milk and mix and keep repeating until you have the right consistency.

Serve your beautiful (and don't forget HEALTHY) pale orange potatoes while still hot. Enjoy!

Roasted Asparagus

Seems obvious and simple, right? I agree! But sometimes we need someone to remind us how lovely the simple things in life can be. ... This recipe is from "The Commercial Appeal" (daily newspaper in Memphis). As you can see, it is so simple, there is nothing to modify!

1 lb. fresh asparagus
1 1/2 T. olive oil (I prefer extra-virgin olive oil. The really fruity kind.)
1/2 t. sea salt (Yes, any old salt will do.)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash asparagus and break off the tough (non-bud) ends. (The trick here is that the asparagus spear will do the work for you. Bend it, and it will pretty much break in the right spot for you.)
Put the oil in a 7 x 10-inch pain (or one close to that size). Put the asparagus in a single layer in the pan and sprinkle with salt. Shake the pan around to coat the asparagus.
Put the pan in the preheated oven, and cook for 15 - 20 minutes. Check asparagus every 5-ish minutes and shake the pan to recoat everything. When the spears are done, you should be able to bite through without it being stringy. Start checking at 15 minutes.

Cabbage - The Poor Man's Doctor

Did you know that cabbage has been called "the poor man's doctor?" It is THAT healthy! Here is a recipe that, in its original form, came from the very cool cookbook Down Home Wholesome by Danella Carter, modified to suit my tastes (as usual). If you don't think you like cabbage, at least give this one a chance. You might change your mind!

1 head cabbage, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled, bisected lengthwise, and sliced into half-moons
1 bell pepper, deseeded and deveined, thinly sliced
1 t. crushed red pepper (more if you like!)

In a large pot (enough to hold all that stuff!), sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until transparent (several minutes). Add carrots, bell pepper, and crushed red pepper, and sauté a couple of more minutes to let the crushed red pepper flavor the oil. Add cabbage, and cover. Cook until the cabbage is soft but slightly crunchy still (not wilted), 15 - 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Guacamole - Yummy Vegan Condiment or Chip Dip!

This is a delicious recipe from Peta that I have modified to suit my own tastes. Feel free to do the same!

2 or 3 ripe avocados
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1/4 c. onion, minced
juice from 1 lime
1/2 t. garlic, minced
1/4 t. chili powder
1/4 t. salt (or increase chili powder by 1/4 t. if omitting salt)

Peel and mash the avocados. Mix all ingredients well, and enjoy! Easy!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Lentil Soup

2 onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed
1 1/2 cups dried rinsed lentils
2 carrots, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
5 cups veggie broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons of soy sauce

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are almost translucent. Add carrots, celery and soy sauce and saute for a few minutes to warm. Add lentils and stir for about a minute. Add broth and water (or you can use all broth and chicken broth works fine, too) and bring to a boil. Then turn heat down and simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Overnight Caramel French Toast ala Indiana

This is what Beth served for breakfast Sunday morning -- fabulous!!

Overnight Caramel French Toast

1 cup packed brown sugar 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided

½ cup butter 6 eggs

2 T. Light corn syrup 1 ½ cups milk

12 slices bread 1 tsp. vanilla extract

¼ cup sugar

In a small saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Top with six slices of bread. Combine sugar and ½ tsp. cinnamon, sprinkle half over the bread. Place remaining bread on top. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining cinnamon. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes

Cornbread ala Indiana

I got this recipe from one of my favorite friends in Indiana -- Beth! She is an awesome cook, as are all of my Indiana friends, now that I think of it. :) Beth served this to us last weekend with a delicious bean soup. Yum!!


1 cup cornmeal

1 cup boiling water

Pour boiling water over cornmeal and set aside to cool.

Mix together:

½ cup milk

1 egg, well beaten

Sift together:

1 cup flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

¼ to ½ cup sugar

Add the sifted, dry ingredients alternately with egg/milk mixture to the cold meal.

Add 3 tablespoons melted butter.

Pour into greased and floured 8x8 pan

Bake 20 to 30 minutes @ 450 degrees

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Corn Casserole

1 can (15-16 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (14-16 oz.) cream style corn
1 (8 oz.) package corn muffin mix
1 cup sour cream (I use non-fat)
1/2 cup butter (I use smart balance as a substitute)
1 - 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or pepper jack as a topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream and melted butter. Pour into a greased (or I use non-stick cooking spray) 9 x 13 in. casserole dish. Bake for 45 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with shredded cheese. Return to oven for 5 - 10 mins. or until the cheese is melted. Let stand at least 5 mins. before serving.

Broccoli & Cheese Casserole

1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup mayonnaise (light mayo can be substituted)
1 egg beaten
1 med onion chopped
30 oz. frozen chopped broccoli (2-3 pkgs)
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar (the sharper the better with this recipe)
1 dash paprika
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter (or I use non-stick cooking spray) a 9x13 inch baking dish (I like to use a round deeper dish but this requires a longer baking time).

2. In a medium bowl whisk together condensed soup, mayo, egg and onions

3. Place frozen broccoli into a large mixing bowl. Break up the frozen broccoli. Using a rubber spatula, scrape soup-mayo mixture on top of broccoli and mix well. Sprinkle on cheese and mix well. Spread mixture into prepared baking dish and smooth top of casserole. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.

4. Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour (longer if using a deeper dish).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Salty Chocolate-Pecan Candy

Another delicious recipe from Pam. This candy is really addicting!

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 (4-oz.) bars semi-sweet chocolate baking bars ( I use Ghirardelli brand)
3 (4-oz.) bars white chocolate baking bars (again Ghirardelli brand)
1 tsp. coarse sea salt

* You can find Ghirardelli baking bars in only Kroger and Schnucks in Memphis.

Roast pecans on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 5 -8 minutes.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Break each chocolate bar into 8 equal pieces. (You will have 48 pieces total.) Arrange in a checkerboard pattern (brown and white) on the cookie sheet.

Pieces will touch.

Bake at 225 degrees for 5 minutes or until chocolate is melted. Remove pan to wire rack. Swirl chocolates into a marble pattern using a wooden pick. (I use a skewer.) Sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans and salt.

Chill 1 hour in frig. or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in sealed container in frig up to 1 month.

AWESOME AND EASY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cucumber Sandwiches

Recipe from my friend Pam. I've had these several times and they are very yummy!

1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, soft
1 pkg dry Italian-style dressing
½ cup mayo
1 pkg bagel crisps
1 cuc
2 teap. Dried dill weed

Mix cream cheese, dressing mix and mayo.
Spread onto bagels. Top with cuc and sprinkle with dill.

Cabbage Casserole

From Pam: sounds awful, I’ve had it and it’s awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

2 1/2 cups coarsely crushed corn flakes (sometimes I use a little more)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1 onion chopped
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can condensed cream of celery soup (undiluted)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Toss the corn flakes and butter; sprinkle half into a greased 13x9x2 inch
baking dish. Layer with the cabbage, onion, salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the soup, milk and mayonnaise until smooth. Spoon over top.
Sprinkle with cheese and remaining corn flake mixture. Bake, uncovered
@ 350 degrees for about 45 to 50 minutes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gruyere Omelete

Come on guys... PINK?! oh well...

The big trick with omelets is patience.

3 Eggs
2 tbs water
1tbs butter
1tbs olive oil
1 or 2 pinches salt
4 grinds from a pepper mill

1/2 c. Gruyere shredded
1/2 c. cleaned chopped button mushrooms
2 medium shallots (like garlic and onion all in one! mmm..)
1 splash of white wine
1/2 handful of chopped fresh dill
1/4 handful chopped parsley (for garnish)
1 cherry tomato (sliced thin for garnish)
2 slices of honey wheat bread (toast mmm)
2 dabs of orange marmalade (or whatever the hell you like)

OK - you'll need 2 pans for this. One omelet pan and another one to saute the mushrooms, shallots, etc...

In a bowl, crack the eggs, add in the water and 4 (or more) cracks of pepper and mix with a fork until the mixture looks homogeneous. It's important to do this by hand, don't want to murder the proteins. Then set it aside.

In the saute pan, get the olive oil in there and get it up to a good medium heat. Then add in the mushrooms. Saute 'em for a few minutes until they start to get soft. Flick 'em around the pan with a wooden spoon or whatever. Then add in the shallots. Flick them around a bit. Once the shallots start to soften, add a tbs of white wine. Then add half of the dill and then add a pinch of salt and turn off the heat. Continue to use the wooden spoon or whatever until the heat dissipates. Cover it, remove from the hot burner.

Meanwhile, get that other pan and get it going to medium heat with the butter. Once the butter is melted (but before it burns! yuck...) pour in the eggs and cover. And wait! Don't peak! Unless you have a clear lid, of course.

After 2 minutes, take a peak. If the eggs still look a little runny, it's OK. It just needs maybe another minute. Once the eggs look like they're mostly congealed, put half of the Gruyere cheese in the kinda left-ish middle of the pan, then add half of the saute mixture, use a normal spoon and put it right on top of the cheese. Cover! 30 seconds! Now is a good time to burn some toast.

Open the lid and add in the remainder of the cheese, saute and fresh dill left over from earlier. Slide your spatula under the right side of the pan and gently flip it over the stuffing. Use 2 spatulas if you want. Sometimes I just use my other hand. Burns a little though.

Once, it looks like an omelet in the pan turn off the heat, wait 30 more seconds with the lid on. Get your plate out. Slide that yummy omelet onto the plate. Fan out the 4 or 5 slices of the little tomato on top of the omelet. Sprinkle the parsley everywhere. Plate your triangle-cut marmalade toast (whatever) on the same plate.

Hey, if you made a little bacon or sausage while I wasn't lookin', toss it on. Pour a little french-press coffee (2 splendas w/ 2 moo moos, please) and a little glass of OJ. Turn on some Led Zeppelin and enjoy your morning, Billy-style. Oh yeah, get me some of that cayenne pepper sauce! Crystal, yup!

Omelets are cool because you can pretty much put anything you want in them. Just as long as the filling ingredients marry well. I try not to create omelets with too much going on. You can get one of those at IHOP, barf... Remember, less can be more if you think about the flavors. Try new things that you wouldn't normally try. Carrots and raisins, with eggs!?!? What?! Yup, throw in a little curry and brie and you've got a mouthful of Pakistan. Minus the dirt...

*Other omelet filling combos:
  • Goat cheese, chive or dill, tomato
  • Feta, spinach, scallion
  • Cheddar, vidalia, diced ham
  • Muenster, fresh basil, bourbon-ham (black forest is good, too)
  • Swiss, steak, Shitake, shrooms, yellow onion, horseradish
  • Monterrey Jack, Serrano Peppers (or Jalapeno), white onion

Monday, January 21, 2008

Renee's Vegan Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables (vegan recipe, and I seriously don't even remember what magazine I cut this out of...This is a perfect earthy, autumn dish. Maybe serve it with a big salad or sauteed kale, crusty European bread, and glasses of red wine!)
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 turnips (or rutabagas), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 beets, peeled and cut into halves or quarters, depeneding on size
2 onions, peeled and cut into quarters
6 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly mashed with the side of a knife
extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
fresh or dried herbs (like rosemary!)
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Put all root vegetables and the garlic cloves in an uncovered roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil over all for a crispier luster and to keep vegetables from sticking to the pan; mix to distribute oil, then sprinkle with herbs. Cook in the lower 1/3 of the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until deeply browned. Don't be alarmed if the beets turn almost black, which is normal. Every 20 minutes or so during cooking, remove the pan from the oven and use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the starchy vegetables.

Renee's Vegan Szechuan Tofu

Szechuan Tofu (vegan recipe from Molly Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook...my version, of course. This is great over steamed white rice, so start it cooking when you start this. I always forget to and have to do it at the end!)
3/4 - 1 (that's anywhere from 3/4 to 1)lb. tofu, NOT the silken kind
1/2 c. canola oil plus 2 T. canola oil
2 average-sized heads broccoli
1 can baby corn, drained
1/2 small onion, sliced
1/3 c. sherry or rice wine
tamari sauce (see step 4...soy sauce or shoyu would be fine, too)
1.5 c. water
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1.5 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 T. cornstarch
First, cut the tofu into flat rectangles, about 1/4-inch thick. I slice the whole cake, then cut the slices into rectangles.
Heat the 1/2 c. oil in a deep skillet until the oil is hot enough to instantly bounce a drop of water on contact. Fry the tofu rectangles until their outer surface crispens (a few minutes on each side). Use add'l oil, if necessary. Drain the rectangles on paper towels, and keep them warm in a low oven.
Wash and cut up the broccoli into florets, set aside.
In a 1-cup measuring cup, pour the sherry or rice wine up to the 1/3 c. mark. Add enough tamari to make 1/2 c. of liquid. Put the corn starch into a medium bowl. Whisk in the tamari mixture. Add the water, garlic, mustard, crushed red pepper, and black pepper.
Heat the canola oil in the skillet or wok. Saute the onion and broccoli until crisp-tender. Pour in the sauce, turn the heat up a little, and stir-fry/mix/whatever about 5 - 8 more minutes. The sauce will begin to thicken. Stir in the tofu and baby corn. Serve over steamed white rice.

Renee's Vegan Garlic Pasta

Garlic Pasta (vegan recipe from Peta.This dish is deceptively easy, and it's perfect when there's almost nothing in the pantry. But you will be surprised at how tasty it is! The drawback, NOT low-cal!)
1 lb. spaghetti, vermicelli, angel hair, or some other long narrow noodle
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 t. salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 c. toasted bread crumbs
Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1/3 c. of the cooking water. Pour the cooking water into the oil sauce, and cook over low heat 1 minute.
Toss the pasta with the oil sauce. Serve each portion sprinkled with bread crumbs.

Vegetable Lo Mein

Vegetable Lo Mein (vegan recipe from www.cdkitchen.com that I tweaked...always got to put my own spin on them, but give proper credit where it's due!)
1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, julienned
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. FRESH (not dried) peeled and grated ginger (This is so imperative, as it really makes the dish something special. The veggies you can substitute whatever you like.)
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
2 T. vegetable oil
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 T. water
1 T. sesame seeds
1 pkg udon noodles, prepared according to package directions
Stir fry the bell pepper, carrot, and onion in hot vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok for 2 - 3 minutes, until vegetables are tender-crisp. Add garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Combine soy sauce and water, and stir into vegetables. Toss cooked udon noodles into vegetable mixture and serve hot.

Renee's Vegan Pasta with Corn Sauce

Pasta with Corn Sauce (vegan recipe from Peta...You want to serve this warm right after cooking it if you have guests, b/c the sauce is very starchy and will sort of gum up after it starts to cool. That is not to say it's not good that way, too, but it does not look as pretty. But I have been known to eat this cold right out of the fridge!)
1 can corn kernels
1.5 c. soy milk
2 T. tahini (Tahini is to sesame seeds what peanut butter is to peanuts.)
1 T. onion, chopped (or dried onion granules)
1 t. salt
1 lb. pasta
freshly ground black pepper
Put the corn, soy milk, tahini, onion, and salt in a blender and process until completely smooth. (It may take several minutes to completely pulverize the corn.) Pour the blended mixture into a medium saucepan, and warm over medium-low heat. Stir often.
While the sauce is heating, cook the pasta according to package directions. Add the hot sauce to the pasta, and toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately, topping each portion with freshly ground black pepper. SO YUM!

Renee's Vegetarian Cornmeal-Carrot Skillet Cakes

Cornmeal-Carrot Skillet Cakes (vegetarian recipe that I tweaked from "Vegetarian Times". You can go two ways with this savory pancake-like entree. I like to go soul-food with it and serve it with beans and sauteed kale, but Scott likes it when we go Latino with it and serve it with beans, topped with salsa and avocado. It has cornmeal, onions, and cheese, so it makes sense both ways. Your pick!)
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. yellow cornmeal
1/2 t. dry mustard powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
2 carrots, grated (about 1 cup...Dear god, use a food processor for the grating if you have one. It's exhausting doing it by hand.)
4 small green onions, thinly sliced
1 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese, about 3 oz. (I admit, I never use this much cheese, but you might try it if you like the sound of it. I made it last night with goat cheese...kinder to the sinuses...instead of Cheddar, and it turned out fine.)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c. milk (cow, goat, soy, rice, whatever)
Combine flour, cornmeal, mustard, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add carrots, green onions, cheese, egg, and milk, and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Set a baking sheet lined with paper towels inside. This is where you'll keep the done skillet cakes warm while you're cooking the others.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Be sure the skillet is hot before you put batter in, b/c I tried doing otherwise, and the cakes got gummy and stuck to the nonstick skillet! Scoop about 1 - 2 T. of batter into the pan, and spread it flat with the back of your spoon to about 3 inches in diameter. Cook cakes 2.5 - 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Transfer to prepared pan in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaing batter.

Vegetarian/Vegan Paella ala Renee

Vegetarian Paella (vegan dish I tweaked from a Peta cookbook...Is that how you spell tweak? Anyway...) This dish has a long list of ingredients, but it's very easy to make. And the result looks more wow-y than you expect. It's a rich yellow color! I usually serve with refried beans and tortilla chips.
1 cup white rice
2 cups boiling water
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, sliced (although I have used one chopped, deseeded chipotle in a pinch)
1 ripe tomato, chopped (although, again, I have just dumped a can of chopped tomatoes in when I didn't have any fresh)
2 cups vegetable broth (or water if need be)
1 t. salt
1 T. paprika
1 t. turmeric
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1 small jar chopped or sliced pimentos (optional)
Mix the rice and boiling water, and let stand for 20 minutes. Then, pour off the water.
In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet (that has a lid) over medium heat. Saute the onion and bell pepper until the onion is transparent (about 5 mins). Add the garlic, and saute another 3 minutes. Add the rice and broth (or water), bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in the salt, paprika, and turmeric. Cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes (but check after about 15...different rices cook at different speeds).
Once the rice is tender, stir in the tomato and artichoke hearts. Turn out onto a serving dish and garnish with pimentos, if using.

Karyn's Won-Ton Sausage Thingies Appetizer

Won Ton Thingies
- from the collection of Karyn

These are very, very, very yummy!

2 packages of wonton wrappers
3 cups shredded cheddar chest
2 – 16 oz packages Regular sausage
1 – 16 oz package Hot/Spicy sausage
1 – 16 oz bottle Hidden Valley ranch dressing
2 – 4oz cans chopped chilies
Vegetable or Olive oil
1 ½ tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350°.

Brown and drain sausage. Add cheese, chilies, and garlic powder. Once well blended, slowly add the ranch dressing. You might not need the whole bottle, just enough to make the other ingredients stick together.

With a pastry brush, lightly brush oil on both sides of each wanton wrapper. Place a single wanton into a mini-muffin pan and press into a “cup” shape. Place pan in oven when it is full and bake until cups are lightly browned. Remove from oven and place a scoop of meat mixture in the wanton shell. Put back into the oven and bake until they are bubbly hot.

Makes 48 .

Best served hot!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Christa's Tortilla Pie

This recipe will make two tortilla pies! Use three tortillas per pie.

6 Soft Taco size Tortillas
1 c. Christa's Spicy Refried Beans
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 package of taco seasoning
1 can corn (or corn with peppers if you like)
1 c. guacamole
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1. Mix taco seasoning with cream cheese.

2. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese/taco seasoning mixture on a tortilla then layer ingredients on top as follows:
Spicy refried beans.
Shredded cheese.

3. Repeat on one more tortilla and then top with a 3rd tortilla.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes in a casserole dish.

The corn definitely needs to go on after the beans and guacamole. It is hard to layer anything on top of corn because it sticks to and rolls up whatever you try to spread on top of it.

Christa's Spicy Refried Beans

I really don't measure when I make this so you may need to adjust measurements for your taste.

Christa's Spicy Refried Beans

1 can of refried beans
1 can black beans, rinsed
1/2 c. salsa
1 onion
10-15 jalapeno slices from a jar, cut into tiny pieces
2 T. red enchilada sauce
Just enough extra virgin olive oil to saute onion and jalapenos

Saute onions and jalapenos in EVOO on medium in saucepan until onions are translucent (I also add a little of the juice from the jalapeno jar as well). Pour salsa and red enchilada sauce into pan with onions and jalapenos, cover and heat for two minutes. Then add refried beans and black beans to the pan and mix all ingredients together. You can serve immediately but it is tastier to cover and refrigerate, then warm and serve a few hours later or (preferably) the next day.

Mary Evelyn's Bacon Bread

Bacon Bread
From the collection of Mary Evelyn

2 Cans Biscuits (10 count)
2 Sticks Margarine
½ lb. Bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ C. Chopped Bell Pepper (both red and green together are especially delish!)
½ C. Chopped Onion
½ C. Parmesan Cheese

Sauté bell peppers, onion in butter. Cut uncooked biscuits into fourths. Put all ingredients together in bowl and mix well. Pour into ungreased bundt pan*. Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes or until brown.

*Bake in a bundt pan because it may not get completely done in the middle in a regular pan.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Black Forest Cookies a la Renee, Our Resident Vegan

Hello all! I made a new cookie recipe yesterday that I thought I'd share. I even like to think of it as somewhat healthy, since it has nuts and dried berries in it. It's super easy to make. Just a warning that the batter does not look like normal cookie dough. It just looks like melted chocolate. I was afraid it would not cook up into a cookie, but it did! Here it is:

Black Forest Cookies (I got this online at, I think, the Ocean Spray cranberry website and, as always, switched things up to be more in line with my tastes.)

1 11.5-oz. bag chocolate morsels (I used a 12 oz. bag Ghiradelli semi-sweet with good results.)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. butter (I used Earth Balance vegan margarine with good results.)
2 eggs
1 t. almond
3/4 c. flour
1/4 t. baking powder (There is no salt called for in the recipe, which worried me, b/c I thought that was needed to "activate" the baking powder. Worked fine with no salt.)
1 6-oz. package Craisins (dried, sweetened cranberries)
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour 3/4 c. chocolate morsels into an uncovered large microwave-safe bowl. Set remaining morsels aside. Microwave morsels 2 - 3 minutes on high. Stir until chocolate is smooth.
Stir in brown sugar, butter/margarine, eggs, and almond. Add flour and baking powder, mixing thoroughly until combined. Stir in remaining morsels (You may want to let it cool a little, b/c if it is still hot, it will melt these as well.), Craisins, and nuts.
Drop by tablespoonsful onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes (depending on how firm you like your cookies) or until cookies are puffed and set to the touch. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 2.5 dozen cookies.

The calories are listed as 140 per cookie, but I made them bigger than 1 tablespoonful each, so I know mine were more! It actually also has a little protein, vitamin A, and calcium, per the recipe specs from online. I hope you enjoy it!

***Note: Use egg substitute to convert to a vegan recipe. :)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Suzanne's Fabulous Potato Soup

This is my all-time favorite recipe for Potato Soup. It came from a church cookbook and was originated by the father of a friend.

Do note that you could change this into a vegetarian or vegan recipe, simply by changing a few ingredients: vegetable broth instead of chicken, soy milk instead of cow's milk, etc. The point is to make something yummy and filling that you will actually eat, so don't be afraid to experiment! :)

Potato Soup


3 medium potatoes, cubed
2 small carrots, sliced thin
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 cans chicken broth
2 tsp. parsely flakes
1 cup celery, sliced thin, or 1 tsp. celery seed

After bringing to a boil, cover, reduce heat, simmer till tender. Remove half mixture into large bowl, blend with immersion blender.

Then, mix till well dissolved:

1 T. cornstarch
1 cup milk

Pour into mixture.

Then add:

6 slices cheese, broken into small pieces
1/4 c bacon bits
1/4 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Cook over low heat until desired temp is reached.

Wade's Chocolate Gravy

Y'all, if you've never heard of Chocolate Gravy, you are probably not from the South. I had never heard of it until I moved to Tennessee, and I was born and raised in the South, albeit in Florida. Wade made this for me once for breakfast, and I haven't been the same since. ;)

Chocolate Gravy

1 cup of sugar
2-3 tbsp self rising flour
1 tbsp of cocoa powder (more if you like a darker chocolate)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Milk to desired amount of gravy (at least 2 cups)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix ingredients and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Serve over warm buttermilk biscuits and butter.

Wade's Vegetarian Chili

Wade is one of my all-time best friends, and easily one of the best cooks I'm privileged to know. If he makes it, you can bet it's going to be good.

Vegetarian Chili


1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
3 garlic cloves minced
1 red bell pepper diced
2 jalapeno peppers diced (seeded if desired)
½ lbs green beans (fresh or frozen) cut to desired length
2 tbsp cornmeal
1 cup water
1 can light red kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a sauce pot over med-high heat. Add the onion and cook until wilted. Stir in garlic, red pepper, jalapeno, and green beans. Cook until peppers begin to soften, 3-5 minutes.
2. Stir in cornmeal and add the water and kidney beans; bring to a simmer. Add the tomatoes, corn, oregano, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and salt. Simmer mixture until thickened and stew-like, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Warm Artichoke Dip

*This recipe was given to me by my friend, Steve. We belong to a dinner group of about 10 people who get together once a month for dinner at a different person's home each month. The host prepares the main dish, and the guests bring the rest of the dinner -- appetizers, veggies, side dishes, wine (very important), and desserts. By trading off each month, we get to spend time in the homes of people we are able to get to know better over food lovingly prepared, or just as lovingly picked up from Publix. :)

As for this recipe, I recommend adding chopped spinach, *real* bacon bits (though that should go without saying), and garlic powder to taste. You could also throw in some chopped water chestnuts, almonds, asiago cheese, or whatever other little tidbits your hearts desire. This dip *will not last long*, so be sure to get some as soon as possible. :)

1 large can artichoke hearts, drained
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups mayonnaise
1 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated ( I used just regular Parmesan )

Chop artichokes, add cream cheese, mayonnaise and cheese. Mix thoroughly. Bake uncovered in oven proof serving dish at 350 for about 15 minutes. Serve warm with crackers.

If there are suggestions for ways to make this Vegan-friendly, do let us know. We'd be happy to post an addendum to this (or any other) recipe(s).


"Personally I do not resort to force--not even the force of law--to advance moral reforms. I prefer education, argument, persuasion, and above all the influence of example. "

- Rutherford Hayes (1822-1893)
19th U.S. president