Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ultimate Oatmeal

There's nothing I like better than oatmeal for breakfast on a cold winter morning. My usual has berries and flax seeds, but sometimes on a day off I like to go crazy and make the "ULTIMATE" oatmeal. Obviously yours might have different ingredients based on your preferences, but just try it with every delicious thing you can think of. Trust me.

Ultimate Oatmeal
-frozen strawberries, raspberries & blueberries
-fresh banana sliced or chopped
-ground flax seeds
-chopped/sliced cashews, walnuts & almonds
-a pinch of brown sugar

Cook the oatmeal according to the directions (I use the 1-minute quick cook). If you're using big pieces of frozen fruit, like my strawberries, you might want to partially thaw them ahead of time or put them in the water as you boil it to get them warmed through. Add smaller frozen fruit with oats. Once oatmeal is cooked, add fresh fruit, flax, nuts and sweetener. Hold the bowl in both hands to warm yourself and enjoy.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Glazed carrots

My favorite holiday meal sidedish. And a great way to get your kids to eat vegetables...

  • Boil carrots until soft enough to split with fork
  • Drain carrots, return to pot
  • Add a 1-2 tablespoons of butter
  • Add a couple tablespoons of dark brown sugar - as much as you need to get desired sweetness
  • Mix altogether until butter has melted and carrots are covered with 'sugar sauce'

  • Tuesday, December 29, 2009

    Hash Browns

    This was my first stab at homemade hash browns, and I think it went well.


    There aren't too many rules for making hash browns. Basically if you're skillet-frying potatoes and vegetables, they're hash browns.

    Olive oil is the best grease for the pan. Dice your favorite vegetables, and throw into the pan with cubed or grated potatoes. (The above hash browns include red pepper and tomato.) The final rule: they're not hash browns until you include chopped onions. Season to personal taste. Warm until the potatoes are tanned. Enjoy!

    Monday, December 28, 2009

    Veggies for Dinner

    I needed a quick fix before running out the door and Matt sauteed me up some brussel sprouts with shallots and garlic (they're so hot you can still see the steam coming off of them) and a tomato salad with balsamic and Asiago cheese.

    Quick, healthy and delicious!

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    Chocolate Christmas Trees

    Made the same way as I did the chocolate ghosts, say hi to the Christmas trees! (With green food coloring, of course)

    A quick and easy treat to make for Christmas, and a fun family activity!

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009


    From guest contributor Dena...


    One of my family's holiday favorites (probably because that's the only time of year I make it). There is not an actual recipe for this, so I will just explain how I make it. I use
    Rhodes frozen bread dough (white). You can fill it with whatever you like. I use ham, salami, pepperoni, mozzarella and provolone. Roll it up. "Seal" up the ends. I egg wash the top for that shiny golden brown finish. Bake at 350 until nicely golden brown. This year I am going to try some veggie ones. I'll post an update if they work out.

    Sunday, December 20, 2009

    Wine of the Week - Forest Glen 2007 Pinot Noir


    Tastes of a variety of red berries, and gentle acidity. A good wine, and very affordable.

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Whiskey Balls

    Who doesn't like to get buzzed off cookies?

  • 1 cup vanilla wafers
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2oz whiskey (my preference is Maker's Mark)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
    1. Combine dry ingredients thoroughly.
    2. In a small bowl, combine whiskey and corn syrup, then stir into dry mixture.
    3. Refrigerate for about an hour.
    4. On wax paper, sift come powdered sugar. Shape dough into balls and roll around in the sugar.

    Unfortunately, can't be kept out with rest of cookies to snack on. Must be kept refrigerated when not in use or will get gooey.

    For your enjoyment:

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Stir fry

    A simple way to get your veggies. We make this a lot, with variations. You can use any veggies that appeal to you - we like to buy frozen mixed veggies, for simplicity's sake at the end of a long day, but fresh veggies would probably be even better. We got a different mix than usual this time, so no baby corn or water chestnuts for me, which is a bummer because they're my favorites. Cook the veggies up in some oil (I like to use peanut, but pretty much anything will work just fine), soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and anything else you'd like (ginger and garlic are nice additions). Sometimes we'll marinate and bake our own tofu to go in it, but this time we tried out some Tempeh-tations in Ginger Teriyaki and they were really good. Cook up some rice or udon or soba noodles and you've got a yummy, easy, veggie-filled dinner in next to no time.

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009


    And now, a drink recipe from guest contributor Paula...

    This is a simple recipe for a warm, soothing drink on a cold winter's night.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 lb of confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • rum
  • hot water
  • nutmeg

  • Put a teapot of water on to boil. While that's heating up, separate the egg whites and yolks. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the yolks and continue beating until well mixed and a little frothy. Add a half pound of powdered sugar and beat until well mixed. Put a shot of your favorite rum in a cup. Add two gravy ladles of the batter. Fill the rest of the cup with the boiling water. Top off with a sprinkle of nutmeg and enjoy! Happy Winter.

    (This recipe makes approximately 6 cups. Add or subtract according to the amount of people.)

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Cranberry Almond Bark

    A great alternative to the usual Christmas cookie. Perfect for chocoholics like me. And no baking required!

  • 1 bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 bag of white chocolate chips
  • Sliced almonds
  • Dried cranberries

    1. Melt the chips separately via microwave or double-boiler.
    2. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Alternately, spread the chips in a thin layer of stripes on the foil.
    3. Using the back of the spoon, swirl the layers across each other to create a marble effect.
    4. Top with cranberries and almonds. Be sure to insert them into the chocolate or they won't stick.
    5. Refrigerate for about an hour to harden. Break into large pieces.

    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    Wine of the Week - Redwood Creek 2008 Pinot Grigio


    With tastes of apple and melon, this is a simple, low-acid, enjoyably fruity wine.

    Saturday, December 12, 2009

    Peppermint Coke


    Just a silly little treat that I enjoy. All you need is a peppermint flavored candy cane and a can of Coca-Cola. Unwrap, and let the candy cane soak in the Coke. After only five minutes, you'll begin to taste the mint flavored Coke. Continue dipping the candy cane until the mint flavor has reached the intensity you prefer.

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Holiday Sugar Cookies

    I've never made sugar cookies before (gasp!) and I thought I'd give it a shot this year. So to cheer up my co-workers, I made a batch of Chanukah cookies. Step 1 - Pick up awesome Chanukah cookie cutters - dreidel, star of David, menorah. Step 2 - Find recipes for cookies & icing. Step 3 - Make & decorate.

    The recipes I used were Eloise's Easy Sugar Cookies and Powdered Sugar Icing I. I found the cookie dough fell apart a bit too much when I was rolling it out, but the cookies taste great. I also used Ener-G egg replacer in place of the egg in the recipe, but that should surprise nobody. And the icing, I only did half a recipe, which iced just enough to bring to work (30 small cookies).

    Then I plated them up and wrapped 'em in cellophane to bring to the office to celebrate the festival of lights. Happy Chanukah everyone!!

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Pretzels of Doom

    Since getting a job at our little dirt mall, I've been binging on mall pretzels. You know the ones I'm talking about. Overpriced and dripping with butter, sure to give you heartburn 20 seconds after you have that last bite. But sooooo hard to resist. So, being in a holiday baking mood, I looked for a not-too-hard recipe to try out myself. And this one from did not disappoint. They taste so super buttery (even though there's no buttter involved) and are amazingly soft and fluffy. I made mine smaller than in the recipe, so I ended up having 16 pretzels instead of a dozen. And Steve and I successfully polished off all of them within 24 hours. Soooooo good. I made another batch today and immediately stuck them in the freezer for safekeeping until Christmas eve, when I'll serve them up with some Guinness cheese fondue.


    4 teaspoons active dry yeast
    1 teaspoon white sugar
    1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
    5 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1/2 cup baking soda
    4 cups hot water
    1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping


    In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

    In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.

    When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

    Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned

    Fruit & Nuts

    My fiance and I have been systematically helping each other eat more healthfully over the past two years we've been together. Part of the reason this works so well is that he spends a lot of time reading about the best way to eat and lately we've been concentrating on eating as much raw food as possible: fruit, veggies and nuts. Part of this is because I recently decided I want to be vegan... at some point in my life (though I'm not sure how long it will take me to give up cheese if I'll ever be able to do it!) and part of this is because Matt has a whole new perspective on eating for health after reading The Unconstipated Gourmet. Classy, right?

    So one night we made ourselves a huge fruit platter of pear, apple, banana, grapes and strawberries and enjoyed it with a bunch of mixed nuts (Brazilian, almond, walnut, etc.).

    Part of me feels guilty as an environmentalist to be eating so much fruit out of season, but my body is really craving it and I feel significantly healthier so I'm REALLY enjoying our latest adventure in eating.

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Chestnuts Roasting...

    ...but not on an open fire. Because, honestly, how many of us have access to open fires, and the equipment to roast chestnuts over them? Here's how to oven-roast chestnuts.

    The first (and most tedious) step is to cut slits into each individual shell. Cutting an 'X' rather than a single line can help with shelling later. Spread the chestnuts out evenly on a baking sheet, with the cut side facing upward. Bake at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes.

    When finished baking, allow to cool for about 10 minutes (or until cool enough to handle). Shell immediately, as it is easier to remove the shells while still warm.

    Best served while still warm, or store in an airtight container to preserve freshness. Enjoy!

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Homemade Thin Crust Pizza

    So yummy and not a greasy as delivery.

    Crust (Makes two pies):
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cups flour
  • Mix water and yeast in a large bowl
  • Add sugar and flour
  • Knead dough. Split in half. Roll out on flour to make pie.
  • Brush on olive oil to give a golden look.

  • Throw on your favorite toppings, bake for ~10 minutes on a pizza cooker or at 350° in the oven, or until cheese melts (make sure all meat is precooked) and enjoy!

    Here are my faves:
    Basic Pepperoni Pizza: Pep, Mozzarella cheese, Sauce

    Veggie Pizza: Red bell peppers, Green bell peppers, Tomatoes, Red onions, Mozzarella cheese, Sauce, Spinach

    BBQ Chicken pizza: Roasted or grilled shredded chicken, BBQ sauce, Red onions, Mozzarella, Basil

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Matt & May's Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

    Matt and I had a non-traditional Thanksgiving at our house, starting at 10 in the morning when my parents unexpectedly showed up! Matt made my family some gorgeous omelets and a frittata that I unfortunately forgot to photograph . My mom brought a family favorite: zucchini au gratin...

    And my little sister brought some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies she'd made.

    After they left, friends started trickling in and Matt made a bunch of food to nosh, including a tomato bruschetta

    hummus, black bean dip, toasted pita and roasted chickpeas and soybeans

    squash soup

    and foccaccia with homemade marinara sauce (which I almost forgot to photograph so that's why there's only two left!!)

    It was a day full of good food. Hope yours was too!

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Potato Soup

    Here's the latest from guest contributor Paula...

    This is a wonderful comfort food to warm you up on cold winter evenings. There's no specific recipe. This is just what I learned by watching my mom make it for years. First you saute onion and garlic in butter in a soup pot. When they're softened, you put in peeled, cubed potatoes. The amount depends on how much soup you want to make. You put in just enough water to cover the potatoes and boil until softened. You then add a can of creamed corn and a can of pet milk (or more of each depending on how much soup you're making). Salt and pepper to taste. That's it. Simple, easy, and oh so good. Enjoy!

    Monday, November 30, 2009

    Thanksgiving Meal

    Sick of Thanksgiving leftovers yet? Too bad!

    Here was the meal at Helby & Joe's:

    Our meal consisted of:
  • 21 lb Turkey
  • Tofurky
  • Corn on the cob
  • Stuffing (courtesy of Trader Joe's)
  • Glazed carrots (recipe coming soon!)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Marsala gravy
  • Salad (courtesy of Steph)
  • Italian bread
  • Green beans with walnuts
  • Our desserts:
  • Pumpkin bread
  • Apple turnovers (courtesy of Steph)
  • Joe's chocolate mousse pie

    Our drinks:
  • Joe's T-Giving spritzer (White zinf & sprite)
  • Sparkling Apple cranberry juice
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Chianti
  • Sunday, November 29, 2009

    Wine of the Week - Poggio Basso 2008 Chianti

    Special thanks to my friend Rob for introducing me to his go-to red wine. As described here, this wine has a deep ruby red color, and is very fruity and flavorful.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    Honey butter cookies

    I fear I may have finally made something too adorable to eat.

    Honey Butter Cookies
    1/3 C. butter, softened
    1/3 C. sugar
    1 t. baking soda
    1/4 t. salt
    1 egg
    2/3 C. honey
    1/2 t. lemon juice
    2 3/4 C. flour
    Honey Butter frosting
    sliced almonds (to make wings for the bees)

    In a large bowl beat butter on high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occassionally. Beat in egg, honey and lemon juice until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill for an hour or until easy to handle.
    Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease cookie sheets, set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes with 2" cookie cutter. Place cutouts 1" apart on prepared sheet. Bake 7-8 minutes until tops are golden and edges are set. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

    Honey Butter Frosting
    In a medium saucepan, combine 3T. butter and 3T. honey. Bring to boil. Remove from heat and stir in 2C. powdered sugar and 2t. lemon juice. Cool to room temp. Stir in a little milk if necessary to make frosting of piping consistency. Tint as desired with gel coloring.

    P.S. I used royal icing to frost the base of my cookies, as I didn't think I'd have enough of the honey butter frosting. And I made the mistake of chilling the honey butter frosting while I waited for my cookies to cool down; which lead to something closer to marzipan or gum paste. But it was quite fun sculpting little bees out of it.

    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    Wine of the Week - Fife 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

    Martha Stewart says a medium-bodied red wine suits the typical Thanksgiving meal best. One disregards Martha Stewart at one's own peril.

    This California cabernet tastes of blackberry, cassis, and bitter tannin.

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Tomato Basil Pasta

    Taken from

    One of my fave takes on pasta. Though it seems like a lot of steps, it's super quick and easy to make. Basically just throw it all in a food processor and heat.

    This sauce is definitely creamy and sweet. I usually use a tbsp of spaghetti sauce instead of tomato paste.

    Add whatever other ingredients you like. Could go great on top of meatballs, sausage, you name it.

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Cassoulet - The perfect cold weather meal

    Yet another recipe from Veganomicon. It's basically a yummy thick stew of leeks, carrots, potatoes, peas and white beans. But what makes it absolutely killer is the freaking biscuits on top. Once the stew is done, you throw on the biscuit batter and pop it all in the oven. We also make a slow-cooker "pot pie" that's pretty similar (that recipe is in Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker), but I don't have any pics of that. Either way, it's winter in a bowl.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Very Simple Split Pea Soup

    I made split pea soup last night, with a bit of a made-up recipe I got by using two parts of two Split Pea Soup recipes out of the absolutely fabulous How To Make Everything Vegetarian cookbook.
    I started by chopping two carrots and a shallot, frying in a neutral oil until browned and soft. I added 2 cups of split peas (rinsed and drained), three vegetarian bullion cubes and 6 cups of water.

    After it had boiled, I turned down the heat and let it cook 20 - 30 minutes, during which I added salt and pepper, then got creative and threw in a pinch of ground mustard, some powdered garlic and some seaweed. When I walked away from the stove for a while, Matt grated some cheese into it.
    When the peas were soft, I spooned up a big mug o' soup. It had ended up tasting more like a stew, very savory and filling. This stuff is the perfect thing for a chilly night.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Pumpkin Pie Cake

    This recipe comes to us via guest contributor Paula.

    This Pumpkin Pie Cake recipe is one of my favorites handed down from my mom. I recently made it for a family gathering. My family likes it better than pumpkin pie.
    • 1 box yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup)
    • 1 stick margarine or butter (melted)
    • 2 eggs beaten
    • Save the 1 cup cake mix for topping
    To the remainder of the cake mix, add eggs and butter (or margarine). Beat with a fork until all mix is absorbed. Put into greased 9 x 13 pan.

    • 1 large can pumpkin (1 lb 13 oz)
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 2/3 cup milk
    • 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
    Mix together well. Pour over crust.

    • 1 cup cake mix
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup nuts (optional)
    • 1 stick butter or margarine - cold
    Mix by hand and crumble on top of filling

    Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes.

    Top with your favorite whipped cream before serving (optional)

    Makes a great Thanksgiving dessert. Enjoy!

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Black Bean Soup

    I'm all about soups lately. Nothing beats plopping down in front of the TV with a sandwich and a bowl of hot soup. Well, maybe pizza.

    Altered from The Veganomicon:

    • 1 can black beans
    • 4 cups water
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, diced
    • 2 slices onion, diced
    • 1 carrot, diced
    • 3 cups veggie stock
    • Fave spices: cumin, oregano, etc

    1. Simmer black beans in 6 cups water for about 40 minutes
    2. Meanwhile, in a pan, heat oil. Add garlic. Heat until soft, about 1 min.
    3. Add pepper and onion to garlic. Heat for about 10 minutes, until soft.
    4. Add carrot to pan. Heat for about 10 minutes.
    5. Take out about 2 cups of the soup, mix in a food processor or blender, and return to pot. Add veggie mix and stock. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add spices. And enjoy!

    I think next time I might add crushed tortilla chips on top to add some crunch.

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    Wine of the Week - Gaetano D'Aquino 2008 Pinot Grigio

    A basic pinot grigio with a citrus nose, a lemon taste, and a tart finish.

    Friday, November 13, 2009

    The Anti-Ice Cream

    Never did I think ice cream would cease to delight me. Alas, I have lately just found myself grossed out by all the corn syrup and whatnot they put in there, so I've come up with alternate deliciousness.

    I used plain yogurt, frozen organic mango chunks, frozen organic blackberries and a big squirt of honey, mixed it all up and had the perfect chilly sweet treat.


    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Israeli Cous Cous Heaven

    This is one of my favorite meals that we make at my house. My cousin's friend Dave made it for us once and it changed our lives. It's a bit time-consuming, but not difficult. The only pain-in-the-butt part is cutting the raw butternut squash, which I do first, because it makes the rest of the recipe a breeze. For the most part you can prep the veggies for each step as the ones from the previous step are cooking. It also makes enough food to feed an army. At least 8 really big servings. The dish doesn't have an official name, but my husband has dubbed it "Israeli Cous Cous Heaven."

    1/2 Cup and 1 Tbsp olive oil
    2 large leeks, white and pale green parts, minced
    8 garlic cloves, chopped
    2 and 1/4 Cups vegetable stock
    1 and 1/2 Cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1 Cup raisins, soaked in warm water
    2 zucchini cut in 1/2-inch cubes
    1 Can chickpeas (garbanzo)
    1 tsp turmeric
    1 Tbsp fresh chopped ginger (or dry ginger)
    Large Pinch cayenne pepper
    1 Can chopped tomatoes (or fresh)
    3/4 Cup thawed frozen peas
    1 and 1/2 Cups couscous (use Israeli couscous, if you can get it)
    Lemon for garnish

    - Heat oil in a heavy, large pot over low heat.

    - Add leeks and garlic. Cover and cook until leeks are very tender but not brown (5-10 minutes).

    - Add stock and bring to a boil. Add turmeric, ginger, cayenne and butternut squash. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

    - Add raisins, zucchini and chickpeas. Simmer until all veggies are tender but crisp, not mushy (about another 5-10 minutes).

    - Mix in tomatoes and peas, then add couscous. Give a good stir and remove from heat.

    - Cover and let stand for ten minutes, or until couscous has absorbed liquid.

    - Fluff, garnish with lemon slices. If you use Israeli couscous, you may need to add a bit more broth and let it cook a bit longer.

    Note: You can use any veggies you like for this dish.