Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lentil Soup with Kale

The perfect rainy day meal... Lentil soup simmered all day in the slow cooker with steamed kale mixed in. I used the recipe from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, but it's so simple you could totally wing it - lentils, veggie stock (I prefer homemade, but store-bought is cool, too), carrots, onions and celery (the foundation of any good slow cooker recipe). Steam the kale separately (I like it cut into bite-sized pieces) and add it at the last minute.

Enjoy on a rainy afternoon or evening with a side salad or crusty bread while curled up on the couch watching a movie.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Rinse the lentils before adding them to your slow cooker!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sauteed Squash with Onions and Red Peppers

I finally remembered to take pictures while Matt was cooking, instead of just before I crammed my mouth full of the awesome food he made for us. So here's how he made a simple dinner of sauteed veggies and some black beans on the side:

He started by chopping an onion, and threw it in the skillet to get soft.

Next, he peeled and sliced the squash......and added it to the skillet.
He next chopped a red pepper...
..and threw that in too.
He only used salt and pepper to season this, which was AMAZING to me, because the veggies created their own delicious sauce that I swore he did something more to make that happen. It just tasted too good to be JUST veggies!
Meanwhile, he opened a can of seasoned black beans and heated them, so in a few short moments more, we had a delicious savory veggie dinner.
Squash never tasted so good!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bean & Veggie Cassarole

Taken from one of my new cookbooks, Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's, I decided to try the 'Corny-Copia Bean & Veggie Cassarole.' Obviously, as the title states, all the ingredients are available at your local Trader Joe's.

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 15oz can pinto beans
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 12oz jar Mixed Grilled Vegetable Bruschetta, drained
  • 1 15oz box cornbread mix

    1. Prep cornbread dough to package instructions.
    2. Saute onion, garlic, and cumin in olive oil until soft
    3. Mix beans and yogurt in a large bowl. Stir in onion mix.
    4. In a 8x8" baking dish, spread bean mix as bottom layer.
    5. Spread the bruschetta over the beans as the next layer.
    6. Top with a thin layer of the cornbread batter.
    7. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 375°F, until cornbread is golden brown.

    This was the first time I tried TJ's bruschetta. It's very tangy, but makes for a great combination with the sweet cornbread. Expect your kitchen to smell like peppers for a little while though.

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    Bean-wah Salad

    I did something wacky. I made my usual bean salad and then... added quinoa to it. Crazy! Don't know quinoa? It's the best. Buy some and try it. In this recipe. Or ask me for my delish lemon herb quinoa recipe.

    Bean Salad:
    1 15-oz can of pinto, cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
    1 15-oz can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    1 15-oz can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (Any beans will do, if you have others you like. You can use 3 or be totally off the wall and use a different number of bean varieties.)
    1/2 red onion, chopped fine
    2 Tbsp Dill (but add more if you want to; it’s awesome)
    2 tsp Rosemary (you could chop some fresh Rosemary, but the dried stuff is cool too)
    1/4 tsp sage
    1/4 tsp thyme
    1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
    1/4 Cup Olive Oil
    1 tsp salt
    Dash of black pepper, if you want it

    - In a large bowl, mix the beans, onion, rosemary, sage, thyme, dill, salt and pepper.
    - Then pour in the olive oil and apple cider vinegar and mix it all together.
    - Really, the instructions should simply say, “mix all this stuff together.” The order doesn’t really matter, and I don’t think I’ve ever made it in this particular order anyway.
    - Now, you could eat this mix right away, but if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours you will find it achieves an even better flavour. Oh yeah.

    Then I cooked up 1/2 cup of dried quinoa in 1 cup of water and when that was ready added it to the prepared bean salad.

    It's a great side dish, or a nice, light main course with yummy bread and veggies.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Veggie Stromboli

    Following up on the previous stromboli post, guest contributor Dena has the following...


    For veggie stromboli, I used roasted red peppers, mushrooms and onions, along with provolone cheese. As with the meat stromboli, just use your favorites!

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Oregano-Crusted Tofu

    From This Can't Be Tofu, though I'm sure this would work well with chicken too...

    • 1 pack of firm tofu
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano, or about 4 tbsp dried
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 2 tbsp pine nuts
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

    1. Cut the tofu into 6 strips and lay on paper towel to dry
    2. Put oregano, garlic and nuts in a food processor and process to make a paste. Add olive oil.
    3. Combine the cheese and bread crumbs on a plate.
    4. Rub this pesto onto each side of the tofu strips. Then dip the strips in the cheese mix to cover.
    5. Fry the tofu in a pan with olive oil until both sides are crisp.

    Next time I make this, I may double the pesto recipe and slather it all over the tofu. It was so good!

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Heritage Wine Cellars Fredonia

    The vintner describes this wine as sweet & robust. I definitely found it to be sweet, with hints of juicy apples and dark berries. Low acid, very gentle. This wine would make a great dessert after any filling meal.

    12% alcohol serve chilled

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Simple Sauteed Veggies

    Matt made me another incredible, simple and warm veggie dish of zucchini slices, bell peppers, shallots, garlic and tomatoes, sauteed in olive oil. They created their own delicious sauce and everything was incredibly tender and delightful. I have officially fallen in love with shallots!

    I've been eating it at work with the leftover lentil, chickpea and saffron rice dinner I made for myself a few days earlier and the combination has been fantastic!:

    I think that's one of the most fun things about eating more simply: it makes dish more likely compliment everything else!

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

    Part two of my New Years Eve Mexican madness. Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles. I just got Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar for the holidays and this was my first recipe from the book. They were like super delish chocolate cookies with snickerdoodle topping (cinnamon & sugar), plus a spicy kick. Be warned if you don't like spicy foods, because I cut the amount of cayenne in half and found it plenty spicy. I'm pretty wimpy when it comes to that sort of thing, but everyone seemed to enjoy the kick (which is what makes these cookies "Mexican Hot Chocolate," instead of regular chocolate) without being overwhelmed.

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Eggs Over Easy

    Over Easy

    A good old fashioned breakfast. Eggs over easy, toast for the yolk, bacon, and a side of fruit. It's a great complete meal, and only takes about ten minutes to make on a frying pan (and a toaster, if you don't want to pan-toast the bread).

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    Fruit Smoothie

    A great addition to breakfast to help combat those winter germies.

    Serves 2. Blend together:
    1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
    8-10 strawberries
    1/2 cup blueberries
    1/2 banana
    1/4 cup milk
    a pinch of sugar

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Breakfast Bites

    So I keep talking about this crazy revolution my taste buds have undergone now that I'm entering into my third year of being a vegetarian. Like, for instance, I used to love eating muffins and/or pastries for breakfast, if/when I ever even ate breakfast. And besides eggs, didn't really consider anything else acceptable breakfast food.

    But these days when I bite into a muffin or a pastry I'm just like, "wow! taste all that refined, bleached flour and the made-with-animal-bones sugar... grody." And then I'm not interested in eating it anymore. Instead, I'm craving crazy things like fruit and nuts.

    These are things I used to like eating, but I didn't like eating them very much. Now every morning I'm packing some fruit to take to work with me where I currently have a big bag of cashews stashed in my desk.

    It's been pretty awesome seeing the way my body responds to eating so healthily. My hair is the reddest it's been since I was a little kid gorging myself on tomatoes out of our backyard garden. I've also been developing quite a bit of muscle while doing my normal activities which is awesome, but a little annoying as it leads to prolonged muscle soreness.

    Anyway, my mind has just been blown away at how good real, nourishing food is. I'm definitely eating along the lines of Michael Pollan these days:
    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Michael Pollan
    , brea
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Heritage Wine Cellars Sweet Country White Wine

    Sweet country

    Tastes of spiced pears, with a lingering sweet aftertaste. Reminiscent of Riesling. The vintner describes this wine as a sweet, fruity medly.

    For more information, or to purchase bottles, visit

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    Spicy Chickpea Soup

    Here's another soup to soothe your cold. Super easy and quick to make! Altered from Everybody Likes Sandwiches. Very hearty and filling for a soup, and will plump your lips too! Serves two.

  • Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh salsa (I prefer mild)
  • 4 cups veggie stock
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili pepper
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup small pasta (I used orzo)
  • Dried parsley
  • Directions:
    1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot.
    2. Add garlic and onion. Simmer until soft.
    3. Add salsa, spices, stock, chickpeas and pasta.
    4. Simmer until pasta is thoroughly cooked.
    5. Top with parsley and serve!

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    Four-Layer Dip

    We celebrated a Mexican-themed New Year's Eve. This week I'll post my appetizer and next week I'll post the dessert (trust me, you don't want to miss it). I based this dip on a recipe I found here, with a few changes. My version had four distinct layers: Refried beans, mashed avocado (not nearly enough, but I couldn't very well run out at 6pm on NYE for another avocado), seasoned Tofutti Sour Cream (I used the entire tub, but only about half a packet of taco seasoning), and a final layer of chopped tomatoes and green onions. You can tell I liked it because I couldn't even get a picture in before I dug in.

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Grandma's Banana Bread

    From guest contributor Dena...


    One of my favorites growing up, this is by far the best tasting and most moist (is that how you say that?) banana bread I have ever had.

    • 1 1/2 C sugar
    • 1/2 C margarine
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 C mashed bananas
    • 1 C walnuts
    • 1/2 C sour cream
    • 2 C flour
    • 1 TBSP boiling water
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda


    1. Separate egg whites into a mixing bowl
    2. In a separate small bowl, mix boiling water and baking soda
    3. In a separate large bowl, mix all other ingredients, including egg yolks and baking soda/water mixture
    4. Whip egg whites until stiff
    5. Fold egg whites into mixture
    6. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Garlic soup

    After a trip to the East coast for the holidays, I realized this would be a good recipe to share. Breathing in the aroma alone can help clear up your sinuses. Serves two.

    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, diced
    • 1 leek, chopped
    • 1 large carrot (or about 6 baby carrots) chopped
    • 4 cups vegetable stock
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 large potato, chopped
    • A few tbsp of parsley

    1. Heat oil in a pot. Add all veggies to soften.
    2. Add stock and water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for about 5 minutes.
    3. Sprinkle parsley on top, and enjoy!

    Sunday, January 3, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Heritage Wine Cellars Concord

    On my recent holiday trip to Northwest Pennsylvania, I took the opportunity to delve into a new wine region. For the next three weeks, I'm going to profile selections from the Heritage Wine Cellars. My general perception of this wine region is that they produce very sweet varieties. Next time I have a chance, I'll have to explore their dry wines.

    Now, the first of the three I'm profiling: Concord.


    The winemaker describes the taste as sweet, full-bodied fruit flavor. It's 12% alcohol, and best served chilled.

    The color is a light, translucent red. Very sweet up front, with a tart finish. It has a very obvious sweetness, enjoyable but not complex.