Archive for January, 2011

Oh.My.Goodness.  Smitten Kitchen never lets me down!  These cookies were straight from her site and so good that I couldn’t help myself but write about them as well.  I’ll be honest that I have learned my lesson when baking finally, FOLLOW RECIPE EXACTLY or beware of the results.  So I did that, except no raisins for me because I didn’t have any in the cupboard.  Mine didn’t come out quite as pretty as hers (or perhaps it’s just my terribly photography skills), but I do believe they must be just as tasty.

These cookies were a good find in a pinch because I always have oats on hand and the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples as well.  On the surface, oatmeal cookies may sound bland and not so exciting, but don’t let these little gems fool you – they were quite possibly one of the best cookies I have ever had.  What’s even better?  You can freeze them off and save them so you have cookies on demand – in fact – they are even better after frozen!


I put instructions on the bag for cooking!

Makes about 3 dozen silver dollar sized cookies


1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon (I used a rounded tsp because I love cinnamon)

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup oats (I used the quaker non-instant type)

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

raisins (optional – I’d say about a half cup if you want to use)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla together.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt (whisk this together so it is well blended).  Combine the flour mixture and the butter mixture a little at a time.

Stir in the oats and walnuts.  Cover the batter and chill in the fridge for about 15 min.

I used a tablespoon measure to scoop out my batter.  I then rolled it into balls and placed 3 on parchment paper to bake off for myself for a single serving.  I baked those for 12 minutes and they were golden brown around the edges and the center still looked a little moist when I pulled them out.  Let them cool and set for about 5 minutes before you devour them.

For the rest of the batter, I rolled it into similar sized balls, placed on parchment paper and put the whole tray in the freezer.  Once frozen, I transferred them to a freezer bag, which I labeled with instructions (350 for 12-14 min) to keep for emergency cravings (those have happened to come every night since I made them).  I found after freezing that they needed an extra two minutes to cook.


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Okay, so first of all, I fully realize the recipe I made for Quinoa and Tempeh burgers might have been overly flavorful from some and I also didn’t feel they held together quite as much as I would have liked (don’t get me wrong, they were still tasty and I would make again!).

I felt like I needed to make a much more simple basic recipe for Veggie Burgers that would allow others to have a burger that wouldn’t fall apart and could be adapted to your own taste’s.  I liked mine just as it was, but I could see adding some walnuts for crunch, some sharp cheddar for a bite, maybe some green chili’s to add a mexican flare…any way you like it, this is a good make and bake and or make, bake, and freeze off for lunch kind of recipe.

Servings:  7 Burgers

15 oz garbanzo beans

1/2 cup oats

1 carrot

1 onion

2 eggs

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp Worcestershire

1/2 cup parmesan



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with foil, spray with Pam, and have ready next to prep area (your hands will be messy so this will make prep easier).

One item at a time, process the onion, carrot, oats, and chickpeas in a food processor until finely chopped.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and add eggs, paprika, basil, oregano, Worcestershire and parmesan and stir until blended.  Add flour and use hands to mix ingredients well.  Form mix into slightly smaller than tennis ball size and then flatten into a patty shape.  Repeat to make about 7 patties.

Place on foil lined baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.  When I flipped mine, I flattened them a little as I like them flat on both sides.

Nutritional Value courtesy of Calorie Count

Serving ideas:

  • In a pita, with tzatziki sauce, tahini, cucumbers and tomatoes
  • On a bun with ketchup, mustard, and maybe a little cheese
  • On top of a salad!

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With the long weekend, it turned out to be a busy few days so I have had to neglect my blogging a little bit.  Since I have been a little radio silent, I committed to getting up first thing this morning and making something fun for breakfast to share with you all.

I needed something that would be quick and easy to prepare, but since I was working from home I had time to let the cooking part take a little longer.  What better than a light and fluffy quiche???

I have made this quiche many times with quite a few variations.  I often search around for other people’s quiche’s so I can get ideas of new things to put in mine or good combinations, but for this morning I went with my basic model.  Broccoli, Onion, Cheese…

Serves 6

9 inch frozen pie crust

4 Eggs, Beaten

1 1/2 cups 1% milk

1 onion, finely chopped (I grated mine in this morning)

2 oz extra sharp cheddar, shredded (I actually weighed the shredded version of the cheese to determine how much to use)

1 oz parmesan

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup flour

1 crown of broccoli, cut into small florets

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients above, except the broccoli, and stir together until lumps of flour are mostly gone. Pour into pie crust.  Sprinkle broccoli florets over the quiche and use a spoon to press into the egg batter lightly.

Bake for 60 minutes (cooking time may very a little, but you want to make sure the quiche doesn’t jiggle when you shake it).  The quiche should be golden brown around the edges.

Notes:  You can use more or less cheese, but I was trying to have a relatively clean and light breakfast.  Additionally, you can use half and half or cream instead of milk (I use about 3/4 cup if replacing), but I like that the milk doesn’t change the texture but lighten’s it up.  There can be so many variations of this recipe, you can make straight in a glass pie pan without the crust, which is of course tasty and a little healthier, but you will want to add a little butter to the recipe if you do that.

Nutrition info courtesy of Calorie Count: http://caloriecount.about.com/quiche-recipe-r510006#ixzz1BVMYhghs

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It’s a snow day!  I wish that meant that I didn’t have to work, but unfortunately through the magic of VPN there is no such thing as a real snow day anymore.  That being said, the ground is covered in snow, I haven’t been able to leave the house all day, and I just feeling like cooking up something warm and comforting.

My dog on the other hand (who usually will not set foot in the grass without a treat being thrown) seemed to be in heaven.

Who would have thought?  Well, anyways, I love Risotto.  When I stumbled across this barley risotto recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I had to try it.  I have made it about a million times by now exactly as written, but I’ll share with you here my variation.

Serves 4-5

Nutritional Value (Based on 5 servings)

5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used home-made veggie)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, diced

1 large carrot, peeled and chunked (I did little cubes)

7 oz pearled barley

1 tsp sage

1 tsp thyme

1/2 cup white wine (you can sub this with broth but the wine adds a unique flavor)

Half a bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/2 of a zucchini

1 can mixed beans, drained and rinsed (you can use any beans you want or omit them altogether – sometimes I cook dried beans in the slow cooker and add them in)

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup parmesan

salt to taste

In a pot on the stove, bring the broth to a boil.  Once bubbling, reduce heat and keep warm  (you need this to be hot as you add it to the pot of risotto, 1/2 cup portions at a time).

In a separate heavy-bottom pot (I used a dutch oven), heat the olive oil.  Once hot add in the onion and carrot and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 min.  Add the barley and let cook for about one minute.  Add in the wine (or broth – your choice).  Reduce the heat to medium and stir the risotto until all liquid is absorbed.

In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and cook the asparagus for 4 minutes (I actually cook it right in the pot where I am keeping the broth warm instead).  After 4 minutes, use a slotted spoon to take the asparagus out and put straight into a bowl of ice water to keep the asparagus from cooking further.  Remove asparagus from water and set aside.

Add 1 cup broth (from the heated pot), and cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.  Keep adding the broth in half cup portions and cooking until absorbed (about 8 portions, but you may need more), the barley should start to get more tender and the liquid will start to get thick and dense and will no longer absorb all the way – this usually takes about 4o minutes when I am making it.  The barley will still have a little bite to it as it doesn’t get as soft as rice gets (I love the texture).  Add the zucchini, asparagus, and beans and stir.  Add another 1/2 cup broth and cook for about 4-5 more minutes, until the zucchini is softer.

Remove from heat and add the butter and parmesan.  Let sit for a few minutes and then stir to incorporate it all together.  Portion it out into a bowl and top with more cheese.

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I am always in search of the perfect veggie burger.  The pre-made variety you can get at the store are good, but they are so expensive and I personally would rather know everything in what I am eating.  I have a couple of recipes that I have tried and thought were decent over time, but this was the first one that made me really feel like I was eating something special.  I followed this recipe pretty closely from The Golden Yoke.  It looks like the original recipe came from Moosewood Restaurant’s: Cooking for Health, but The Golden Yoke writer really brought it to life with the great photo’s.

I shook the recipe up a little by using the Maple Bacon flavored Tempeh.  I really think it added a nice kick and gave the burgers a smoky flavor.

I used the leftover sweet potatoes to make sweet potato chips (cooked them right next to my burger but had to take them out a little earlier so they didn’t get burned!).

Nutritional Value (I plugged the recipe into Calorie Count – based on 8 servings)

Serves 6-8

1/2 cup quinoa

3/4 of a large sweet potato, sliced very thin on a mandolin if possible

1 cup water

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic

8 oz tempeh, broken into chunks – I used the maple bacon flavor – makes it smokey and a little sweet

1 tbsp Worcestershire

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp sage

4 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp tomato paste

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Start by putting quinoa and sliced sweet potatoes in a pot and cover with the cup of water.  I had to add just a touch more water to cover the sweet potatoes and quinoa.  Cover and bring to a boil, cook for 15 – 20 minutes.  Make sure the quinoa is cooked and the sweet potatoes are soft.

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan and add the onions, green peppers, garlic and tempeh (I just chop and add in that order as I’m done chopping each).  Add in the Worcestershire, oregano, and sage, and soy sauce.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  When the onions are translucent and most of the water has cooked out of the vegetables (7-10 minutes), stir in the tomato paste and mustard.  Remove from heat.

Grab the pot of quinoa and sweet potatoes off the stove, drain as much water from the quinoa/sweet potato mixture as possible.  Mash together.

Combine the quinoa/potato and onion/pepper/tempeh mixture together.  Let cool in the fridge for 30 min – 2 hrs to cool.  To make all the burgers the same size, scoop out a half cup of the mixture and form into a patty, the size of the buns you will be using.

Because I only needed to make one for lunch, I formed all of the mixture into patties and cooked them all for about 40 minutes (I found after thirty they were still a little soft).  At this point, I froze off all but one.  I actually found that after freezing, the patties hold together much better.  I just pop them in the microwave to reheat them.

For the sweet potato chips, I just tossed the sweet potato slices in a little extra virgin olive oil, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper and put them on the tray with one of the veggie burgers.  I had to pull a few off early as they crisped up very quickly and cooked at slightly different speeds.  They were SO good!  Sweet, salty, spicy.  All delicious.

I ate the burgers this time with just ketchup and mustard but think they would be tasty in a pita with cucumber,tzatziki, hummus and tahini as well.

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It’s not pretty, it’s probably not following tradition, but it is tasty.  This is by far and away my “go-to” dish.  The sweet, salty, spicy combination of crunchy vegetables atop a pile of rice is practically heaven for me.  It took me years to perfect this recipe to my liking as I could never find a version that came out quite right before I just started experimenting on my own.

The key for me?  I make it more like lettuce wraps in that I chop the veggies very small so everything kind of blends together.  I always add small diced celery as it really gives it the unique and crunch flavor I crave.  Sometimes, instead of putting this on rice, I put it in lettuce cups instead – perfection either way.

So here it is, take it for what it’s worth.  Make any vegetable substitutions you prefer – but as I mentioned – don’t leave out the celery (even if you aren’t necessarily a fan of it normally – like me).

Serves 2-3

1 tbsp olive or sesame oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 zucchini, finely chopped

1/2 green or red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/4 lb snow peas, sliced in 1/4 in chunks

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

1-2 garlic cloves

1 inch piece ginger, minced (you can peel the ginger root with a spoon and save the leftover in the freezer)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tbsp reduced sodium soy

2 tbsp hoisin

Brown or white rice cooked or serve in lettuce cups

In a pan over medium high heat, heat oil.  Once nice and hot, add in the onions and carrots, cook for 2 min.  Add the rest of the veggies, peanuts, garlic, ginger, and red pepper.  Stir fry for about 6-7 minutes or until veggies are still a little crunchy.  Add in hoisin and soy – you can add more or necessary depending on taste.  Continue to cook over medium high heat for about 2 minutes.

Serve over rice or in lettuce cups.  Yum!!

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I have never been a huge mushroom fan, that I will admit.  So why did I choose to try this dish?  Every time I see someone order ‘real’ bolognese at restaurants I am jealous.  I have made it clear previously that meat isn’t my favorite thing, so a dish based solely around that doesn’t ring my bell.  But the smell, the deep color of the sauce and all that pasta!  When I saw a vegetarian version on Rachel Ray’s Week in a Day, I had no choice but to jump head first, fungi and all.

To my shock, this was one of the tastiest meals I have EVER made…shocking….mushrooms and all.  It had a deep meat like flavor with a rich creamy sauce yet it was pretty healthy (probably much healthier if you use whole wheat rigatoni like Rachel did!).  I highly recommend you try this. I can’t imagine anyone regretting it.  Even if you hate fungus.

Serves 4-5 (depending on serving size)

1 oz dried wild mushrooms

2 cups veggie broth (or chicken broth if you prefer)

4 Portabella caps (scrape all the gills off and cut into quarter inch cubes)

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1 sweet onion, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and grated

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 -3/4 cup white wine (I suppose you could omit or replace with broth or sherry, but it really adds a nice flavor while the alcohol cooks off)

1/4 cup tomato paste (tip:  freeze leftover tomato paste from can – you’ll always have some on hand!)

2 bay leaves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2/3 cup 1% milk (you can also use whole)

1/3 cup fat-free half and half (don’t need this if you just use 1 cup whole milk)

1 lb pasta of choice (I used parpadelle, but I think rigatoni would be great, too)

1/2 – 1 lb asparagus (roasted with a little olive oil at 375 for 10 min)

In one pot, combine chicken broth and dried wild mushrooms and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook for about 20-30 minutes (until mushrooms have gotten back to full size).  Remove and chop mushrooms while reserving the broth for later.

In the interim, roast the asparagus in the oven at 375 degrees F for about 10 minutes (toss them in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper).

In a dutch oven or heavy bottom pan, heat olive oil and butter.  Add mushrooms and cook for 5-10 minutes.  Add onion, celery, and carrot to the pan along with the garlic and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Cook for another 5-10 minutes or until veggies are all tender.

Add in tomato paste, nutmeg, and bay leaves.  Pour white wine over the veggies and start scraping the pot to de-glaze (get all the brown savory bits off the pan to help flavor and color the sauce.  Cook for a couple of minutes.

Now, add in your reconstituted mushrooms along with all but a couple of spoonfuls of the reserved mushroom cooking liquid (this will keep you from getting the grit too from the mushrooms that collects at the bottom of the pan).  Stir in  milk and half and half.

Simmer over low/medium low for 20-25 minutes or until you have a nice thick sauce.

Cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces and stir into sauce.

Cook your pasta of choice, drain, and stir it directly into your sauce.  Enjoy…sooooo good!

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