Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tutti Frutti Pie

This was my mother’s recipe and remains one of my dad’s favorites. It’s simple and a delight for fruit-lovers. It requires a graham cracker crumb crust, which you can buy readymade at the store. For the homemade crust recipe, see the very end of this recipe.

Ingredients

1 graham cracker crumb crust (store bought or homemade—see end of recipe)
15 oz. can of fruit cocktail (use fruit packed in juice, not syrup)
½ c. chopped canned pineapple (optional—not necessary)
1 pint sour cream (Tofutti sour cream works, but it won’t gel up quite as well as real sour cream)
½ t. vanilla
¼ c. honey or maple syrup
¾ c. chopped walnuts
1 tsp. nutmeg

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚. Drain the liquid from the fruit cocktail. Combine the fruit cocktail, sour cream, vanilla, and honey. (Extra tip: add about ½ cup of canned pineapple cut into small pieces.) Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts across the top then sprinkle nutmeg on top of that. Bake for 30 minutes at 350˚. Cool on the counter for 15 minutes then place in the refrigerator to chill. Let it set for about 2 hours before serving. If you use real sour cream, it will thicken up. The Tofutti sour cream does not thicken up so well but it works as a substitute for dairy well enough to use.

How to make a graham cracker crumb crust:

If you want to make a graham cracker crumb crust from scratch, here’s how. Put the equivalent of about 2 cups of graham crackers into a sturdy plastic bag. Wrap the bag in a thin dish towel. Then beat the graham crackers into crumbs with a hammer. If the bag breaks, transfer to another bag. Melt 1 stick of butter (¼ pound). Put the graham crackers into a pie pan and blend with ¼ cup of organic sugar. Then add the melted butter and blend thoroughly, pressing the crust into the pan to cover it completely.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sesame Green Beans

The things you can do with green beans are endless! This simple dish is tasty both hot or cold.

Ingredients

3 c. snapped and cleaned green beans
1 chopped red pepper
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
½ c. peanuts (optional)

Directions

Chop the red pepper and break the green beans into one- to two-inch lengths. Sauté the green beans, red pepper, and peanuts in 1 tbsp. of sesame oil and 1 tbsp. of olive oil, stirring frequently, until the green beans are just soft but still crunchy (about 5-8 minutes over medium heat). Put the other tbsp. of olive oil into a small frying pan and heat on low for a couple of minutes. Add the sesame seeds and toast them, turning often, until they are just brown. Add the sesame seeds to the green beans and red peppers. That’s all folks.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Squash, Garnet Yam, and Wild Rice Medley

Perfect for a cold and rainy autumn or winter night, this dish will fill you up faster than you would think. And it’s pretty to look at!

Ingredients


1 butternut or acorn squash
1 garnet yam (or sweet potato) or equivalent of about 2 cups of cut yams
½ c. uncooked wild rice
3 tbsp. olive oil (or more if needed)
1 crushed clove of garlic (optional)
½ chopped red pepper (optional)
1/3 c. dried cranberries
3 tbsp. chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions


Cook the rice. It will take about 45-50 minutes so get it started before cooking the squash and yam.

The hard part about this recipe is that you have to peel an uncooked squash! It takes time and patience. The butternut is the easier to peel as you can use a vegetable scraper to get the skin off with relative ease. The acorn squash is a little more difficult to peel because of the ridges. After you have peeled the squash, cut it in half and remove the seeds and strings. Then chop or slice it into bite-sized pieces. (You can even do this recipe with a pumpkin, but who wants to peel a raw pumpkin?)

I like to leave the skin on my garnet yams, but some people find it too tough for their tastes. If you wish, scrape the skin off. Then slice the yam into rounds no wider than ¼ inch thick and cut the rounds into halves or even quarters. If you want to use the garlic and/or red pepper, then crush the garlic and chop the red pepper. The red pepper makes the dish more colorful.

Sauté the squash and yam in olive oil in a large frying pan (uncovered) over medium high heat turning frequently to prevent burning. It will take quite awhile for the squash and yam to get soft. Keep adding olive oil if necessary. Expect to be keeping a close eye on the squash and yam and stirring often for 15-20 minutes. After about the first 10 minutes, add the red pepper and crushed garlic clove.

When the rice is done, add it to the cooked squash and yam. Add the dried cranberries and chopped chives and blend everything together well. You may want to add a little more olive oil to the dish to moisten it (maybe another tablespoon).

A nice addition to this dish is crumbled feta cheese (if you eat dairy).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Potato Latkes

Latkes are the traditional food for Hanukkah. The trick to making perfect latkes is the temperature of the frying pan or griddle. Hanukkah is called the “Festival of Lights” because of the Hanukkah story, which tells that a small amount of oil miraculously burned for eight days and nights until more oil could be made for the ever-burning light in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Holy Temple had been desecrated by Greco-Syrian invaders and when the Hebrews conquered the Greeks and restored the temple, there was no oil for the ever-burning light. Because oil is a key piece to the story, it is traditional to eat foods fried in oil on Hanukkah.

Ingredients


6 medium-sized potatoes (not huge baking potatoes)
½ average-sized onion
2 eggs (beaten)
1 tbsp. flour (wheat, rice, or teff)
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Olive oil (for frying)

Directions

Grate the potatoes and onion either in a food processor or using a hand grater. You can rinse the potatoes and drain the water off to remove some of the starch if you prefer, but I usually don’t bother with this step (as the grated potatoes sit, starchy water will seep out of them and can be discarded). Combine the grated potatoes and onions with the other ingredients (except the oil, which is for frying), stirring everything together well. Heat a film of oil on a griddle or in a frying pan. Heat the oil to medium temperature or a little hotter than medium. Drop the latke batter into the oil. A latke cooks much like hash browns, and similarly has a very high potato content. If water accumulates in the latke batter as it stands, drain that off before frying.

Now this is the tricky part. The latkes should be cooked until just brown and crispy on both sides. Not gummy. Flatten the latkes with a spatula to keep them thin so they cook all the way through to the middle before browning on the outside. Don’t make them too big around, only about three or four inches across. Latkes take patience. Keep adding oil to the pan/griddle each time you put more latkes on to cook. You can keep the cooked latkes warm by placing them in a glass dish, covering them with foil, and placing them in the oven at 200˚ while you finish cooking all the latkes. Latkes also warm up well in the microwave. Depending on how many latkes you are cooking, it can take a long time to make enough for everyone! This recipe for latkes serves about four people. Just multiply for more.

Traditionally, latkes are served with sour cream and/or applesauce. (Tofutti sour cream is a great substitute for vegans and those who are lactose-intolerant.)

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Asparagus and Mushroom Frittata

Use this basic frittata recipe with other combinations of veggies as you follow your imagination. I especially like this version because of the lovely texture of the asparagus and mushrooms together. This is a quick and easy way to make a delightful egg dish, much easier than quiche or soufflé.

Ingredients


3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
¼ onion, chopped (about ¼ cup) or 1 tbsp. onion powder
20 asparagus spears (chopped)
5 baby Portobello mushrooms (sliced)
6 eggs
1 cup grated cheddar cheese 
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Dusting of paprika for the top

Directions


Break the tough bottom ends off the asparagus and chop the asparagus into one-quarter-inch rounds. Slice the mushrooms. Chop the onion. Sautée the vegetables in about 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat for about 7 minutes until they are soft. Set the vegetables aside when they are done.

Beat the eggs and add in the herbs (reserve the paprika for the top). Grate the cheese but do not mix it into the eggs yet.

Turn on the broiler in your oven (high).

Put 1 tbsp. of olive oil and 1 tbsp. of butter into a large oven-safe skillet (cast iron works well) and heat over medium heat until the butter melts. Next pour in the egg and herb mixture. Lower the heat to medium and set your timer for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, spread the vegetables into the eggs, dispersing them evenly. The bottom of the eggs should be firming up but the top will still be wet. Cover the skillet and leave it on the burner for 2 more minutes. The bottom of the frittata should set, but make sure it doesn’t begin to burn. After the second 2 minutes is up, remove the skillet from the burner.

Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the eggs, dust with paprika, and place in the oven (uncovered) for 2-3 minutes until set and bubbly. If you do not have a broiler in your oven, you can put the frittata in with it set on bake at 375°, but it will take a few minutes for it to set and you have to watch it carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom while the top is firming up.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sauerkraut and Mushroom Bake

This dish has become a standard on our Thanksgiving table because it goes so well with the other flavors of Thanksgiving. It is a stunningly unusual dish to bring to any potluck and one of those foods that calls you back for seconds. It can be made either as a dairy dish or a vegan dish, as explained below.

Ingredients

1 quart sauerkraut
15 oz. cooked black beans
1 oz. dried Shitake mushrooms
1 Portobello mushroom
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. sour cream or tofutti sour cream for a vegan dish
½ tsp. black pepper
Salt to taste

Directions

Simmer the Shitake mushrooms in 3 cups of water for 1 hour in a pot with a lid on it. Save the water from the mushrooms after they have been cooked. Remove the stems and chop or slice the mushrooms. Chop or slice the Portobello mushroom and lightly sauté it in a bit of olive oil (for about 2 minutes).

Rinse the sauerkraut thoroughly in a colander. Rinse the black beans thoroughly in a colander. (The rinsing helps remove gases from these foods so that they are easier to digest.) Combine the sauerkraut, beans, mushrooms, dairy/tofu sour cream, pepper, and salt. Add a little bit of the water from cooking the Shitake mushrooms (no more than a half a cup).

Bake the mixture in a greased baking dish, covered, at 350˚ for one hour. This dish freezes well if you choose to make it in advance. It can be reheated long after it was baked with little damage to the flavor.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mock Thanksgiving Dressing (Gluten-Free)

This version of Thanksgiving “turkey dressing” has no meat and no gluten in it, yet it fills in the blank in Thanksgiving dinner for vegetarians. To me, the flavor of Thanksgiving is all in the spices. This vegetable medley is augmented with sage, thyme, and dill to give it that special holiday feeling. It works well with all the usual holiday side dishes and can be used to liven up those lush deep winter meals enjoyed with family and friends.

Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped green pepper or orange pepper (or combination)
3 chopped celery stalks
1 chopped Portobello mushroom or 6-8 chopped ordinary button mushrooms
½ c. chopped onion or 1 tsp. onion powder
1 large crushed garlic clove or ½ tsp. garlic powder
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or 1 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tbsp. ground sage
1 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. ground dill
½ tsp. black pepper
Salt to taste

Directions

Chop the vegetables. Combine the oil, vegetables, and spices in a deep dish frying pan and cook slowly over medium heat. If you don’t mind having the veggies get a bit mushy, you can put a lid on the pan and steam them down. If you like the veggies to be crunchy, then don’t cover the pan. Stir frequently, especially before the veggies begin to make some juice, so that you don’t burn the veggies to the bottom of the pan. It will take about 10-15 minutes to cook.

The recipe as provided contains no bread and requires no baking. For a more dressing-like dish, bake a batch of my gluten-free cornbread (refer to that recipe). Mix the cornbread and the cooked vegetables in a large mixing bowl, add 2 eggs, and bake the mixture for half an hour at 350˚.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Whenever you cut open a pumpkin, save those seeds! Roasted pumpkin seeds are a tasty nutritious snack. Watch your children go through a bowl of these treats in minutes.

Ingredients

Seeds from one pumpkin
Garlic powder to taste
Salt to taste

Directions

When you open a pumpkin, scoop out the portions with seeds and put them into a colander. Run cool water over the seeds and the pumpkin meat/strings that cling to them. Pick out the pumpkin meat/strings until you have nothing but seeds left. It’s OK to leave a bit of orange meat/seeds behind as you will be able to weed these out when you put the seeds on a cookie sheet for baking, which is the next step. I usually cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper, then spread the seeds out on it. At this point you can easily remove all the rest of the meat/strings clinging to the seeds. Get the seeds as clean as possible and spread them out as much as possible. There is no need to grease the cookie sheet or parchment. Dust the seeds (evenly) with salt and garlic powder. Bake at 375˚ for 20-30 minutes, until the seeds are slightly brown and crispy. The rest is just plain YUM!

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Butternut Harvest Pie

Move over pumpkin, here comes the luscious butternut. Your children will love this one, and it’s perfect to augment your Thanksgiving dessert repertoire. You will need a pie crust for this and I have not offered the crust recipe here. I make a crust with rice flour these days so that the pie is gluten-free. Use your favorite premade crust or crust recipe.

Ingredients

2 ½ c. cooked butternut squash purée
¾ cup honey
½ cup heavy cream
3 eggs (beaten)
2 tbsp. grated orange and/or tangerine peel (fresh grated is best)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. ginger
1 pie shell (either make from scratch or purchase ready-made)

Directions

Cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the innards (like a pumpkin). Put the halves upside down on a cookie sheet with a little water in it (up to about ¼ of an inch). Bake at 350˚ for about an hour or until the squash is clearly soft when pierced with a fork. Do not overcook as the squash will turn brown on the bottom and discolor your pie. Check frequently after 30 minutes in the oven. Once the squash has cooled, scoop out the squash meat, discard the skin, and whirl the squash in a food processor until it is smooth.

Combine the pie filling ingredients. The best way to do this is to whirl them up together in a blender or food processor until they are thoroughly blended and creamy. Pour the pie filling mixture into the pie shell. Bake for 50 minutes (or until the center is set) at 350˚.

I believe that this pie is best served cold, so let it cool down and then refrigerate it. As a cold pie it works well at Thanksgiving because you don’t have to warm it up. It’s ready when you are.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Cranberry Sauce Made Simple

You do have options when it comes to cranberry sauce. You can buy a can of gelatinous cranberry sauce or you can be the hit of the Thanksgiving bash by making cranberry sauce from scratch, and it’s so simple there oughta be a law. Note that this recipe should be made a day in advance for best results.

Ingredients

12 oz. cranberries (fresh or previously frozen)
1 c. honey
1 c. orange juice with pulp (water works, but orange juice tastes better)
1 tsp. orange zest (optional)

Directions

Combine the ingredients. Bring to a boil (take care not to let it boil over). Simmer for ten minutes. Cool. Refrigerate. It is a good idea to make this recipe a day in advance so that it has time to set up in the refrigerator, otherwise, you risk having runny sauce. It becomes firmer when it is completely chilled.

This recipe serves about 6 people. Do the math to make enough for more.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Exotic Rice Curry

Curry lovers always enjoy this dish. You can make it hot spicy or not and it provides a good foundation for experimentation (by adding other ingredients). It’s gluten-free, lactose-free, and vegan. It’s delicious, satisfying, and usually a hit at a potluck. It works just fine with regular brown rice or Basmati brown rice; but it’s exceptional with the exotic rice and wild rice combination suggested in the ingredients below.

Ingredients

1 c. uncooked exotic rice (Black Japonica, Red, Mahogany, etc.)
½ c. wild rice
3 c. water
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 red pepper (chopped)
3 tbsp. chives (or 1 tsp. onion powder or ¼ c. chopped onion)
1 mango (chopped)
2 tbsp. lemon juice (fresh-squeezed is best)
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries (or more if desired)
2-3 tsp. curry powder (see below)
Pinch of cayenne if desired
Salt to taste

Directions

Bring the water to a boil, add the rice, cover tightly, and cook on a very low temperature until all the water is absorbed (about 45 minutes). The rice is best if slightly crunchy (definitely not mushy). Fluff with a fork and allow to sit for 5 minutes, covered.

Chop the red pepper and chives (or onions). Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a frying pan and stir fry the vegetables briefly over high heat, turning frequently, for 3 minutes. Cut up the mango into bite-sized pieces. Do not let the juice escape! Save it to add when the dish is assembled.

When the rice is cooked, combine all the ingredients together (including the other 2 tbsp. of olive oil listed in the ingredients) and toss lightly.

If you have a curry powder that you like, use that for seasoning. If not, the main ingredients I look for in a curry powder (or use when I throw one together) are turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper, and coriander. The cayenne will make this dish hot spicy and it’s up to you how hot you want it to be (choose the amount of cayenne carefully).

Note that this recipe also works with quinoa or red winter wheat if desired.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pumpkin Bread or Muffins (Gluten-free Version)

One of my favorite treats in the fall is pumpkin bread (or muffins). Pumpkin provides a terrific foundation on which to build a spice bread or muffin that is golden brown and over-the-top delicious. Spread with butter while hot out of the oven or cream cheese on a cold slice, or even just plain, this has got to be one of the tastiest ways to eat pumpkin.

Ingredients

2 c. puréed pumpkin meat (see below under Directions)
1 c. honey
3 eggs
¼ c. warm water
2 tbsp. coconut oil or butter
1 c. teff flour
1 c. brown rice flour
½ c. flax seed meal
½ c. cornmeal
2 tsp. backing soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg

Optional: ½ c. chopped candied ginger, ½ c. golden raisins

Directions


I always use real pumpkin. To prepare a pumpkin for use in this (and other) recipes, buy a small baking pumpkin (New England pie or other sweet variety). Cut the pumpkin in half and clean out the seeds and strings with a soup spoon. (Use my roasted pumpkin seed recipe to transform those seeds into a tasty snack.) Place the pumpkin halves face down on a cookie sheet. Put a half an inch of water in the cookie sheet. Bake for 50 minutes at 350° (or until the pumpkin is clearly soft when pierced with a fork). Allow the pumpkin to cool for 15 or 20 minutes, then remove the skin by scooping the meat out with a spoon. Whirl the pumpkin meat in a food processor until smooth. It may be necessary to add a little water to get the pumpkin to move in the food processor. Do not allow it to get too wet. Different pumpkins have different amounts of water in them. Some will be wet enough while others will need some help with added water. This recipe calls for 2 cups of pumpkin. See below about freezing pumpkin meat or try my pumpkin soup recipe with leftover puréed pumpkin.

The bread/muffins will be baked at 350° so preheat the oven when you are ready to put the ingredients together. Grease 2 bread loaf pans or 2 muffin tins. Paper cupcake cups can be used in the muffin tins if desired.

For this pumpkin bread/muffins recipe, combine the 2 cups of puréed pumpkin with the honey, beaten eggs, water, and oil/butter until smooth (if using butter, melt it before adding to the mixture). Set aside the wet ingredients.

Combine the teff flour, rice flour, cornmeal, flaxseed meal, and all other dry ingredients (including all the spices). Make sure they are well-blended. Then stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until blended. Do not over-stir. If you wish to add dried ginger, raisins (or other dried fruit) then fold that in last.

Divide the batter in half and put half into each bread loaf pan. For muffins, spoon batter into the cupcake cups or muffin pan sections. Fill each cup to approximately ¼-inch from the top with batter. Bake pumpkin bread for 1 hour at 350°. Bake muffins for 25 minutes at 350°. Bread or muffins are done when a knife inserted comes out clean.

Note that pumpkin meat can be stored for months in the freezer without losing its flavor. Put two cups into a small Ziploc and you have the exact amount needed for this recipe. Pumpkins are usually only available in the stores in October and November. Since I never use canned pumpkin, I like to put up some pumpkin meat each fall so that I can make pumpkin bread, muffins, pie, and soup all through the winter with real pumpkin.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Crustless Collard, Chard, or Artichoke Quiche

What a sensational way to eat your vegetables! This quiche recipe can be made with collards, chard, or marinated artichoke hearts. I don’t recommend using all three together as it’s just too complex and packed with too many veggies. Choose one of the three. This recipe is terrific for those who can’t eat gluten. It’s satisfying and, by-the-way, goes well with roasted potatoes.

Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil
½ onion, chopped (about ¾ cup) or 2 tbsp. onion powder
1 bunch of collards or chard (approximately 2 packed cups before cooking) or 2 cups of chopped marinated artichoke hearts (1 15-oz. jar)
6-8 chopped mushrooms (optional, goes especially well with the artichoke version)
1 cup grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 eggs
1 cup milk (lactose-free milk works fine)
1 large crushed clove of garlic
4 tbsp. chopped basil (fresh or dry)
1 tbsp. chopped tarragon (fresh or dry)
1 tsp. thyme (fresh or dry)
1 tbsp. paprika
Sprinkling of flax seed meal for the top
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°.

If you are using collards or chard (greens), fill a large pot with enough water to amply cover the greens once chopped, add a teaspoon of salt and bring the water to a boil. Remove the central stem from the greens. Place 4-6 leaves on top of each other and roll them up width-wise into a tight tube, then slice them into thin strips (1/8 inch wide). Follow this pattern with all the greens until they are all cut into thin shreds. When the water comes to a boil, simmer the greens, uncovered, for 8 minutes. Remove the greens, put them into a colander, drain them, and rinse them with cold water immediately. Set them aside.

If you are using marinated artichoke hearts, chop them up.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet until frying-hot then add the onion, garlic, and basil. (If you include mushrooms, chop them and fry them with the onions and garlic.) Reduce the heat and gently fry until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add more oil if necessary to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the cooked greens. Cook the vegetables together for 2 minutes.

Beat the eggs then add the milk, grated cheese, and herbs/spices except the paprika. Fold in the vegetables and blend well. Pour the quiche mixture into a well-greased quiche pan, pie pan, or other shallow baking dish (I recommend greasing the baking dish with butter). Sprinkle flax seed meal over the top of the quiche then dust the top with the paprika. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until the center is no longer loose. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

This recipe can be baked in a square or rectangular baking dish and cut into squares when cooled. The squares can then be placed on a plate.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spicy Hot Jalapeňo and Basil Pesto with Pasta

This variation on the traditional basil pesto is for you folks who love hot, spicy food. I kept finding myself spreading pesto on homemade pizza and then putting jalapenos on top. Then it occurred to me to put them right into the pesto. Yum.

Ingredients

3 cups packed fresh basil, cleaned and de-stemmed
2 cloves of garlic sliced
¼ -½ cup olive oil (see how it goes)
¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts
5 oz. Parmesan or Romano cheese cut into small chunks or slices
¼ cup chopped jalapeňo peppers (or to taste)
salt to taste
approximately 14 oz. pasta (rice, wheat, or whatever works for you)

Directions

Put all the ingredients (except the pasta of course) into a food processor and whirl until creamy smooth. Be careful with the olive oil, don’t add too much. Start out with about ¼ cup and add more if needed to get the consistency right. Also monitor how many jalapeňo peppers you include in the pesto. This recipe is not for wimps! But different people like different levels of spiciness.

Boil up the pasta as per the directions on the package. Toss the pasta with the pesto so that the pasta is evenly coated. A nice addition to this dish is chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped marinated artichoke hearts, and/or chopped olives.

The pesto can be frozen and tastes surprisingly fresh when defrosted months (and even a year) later.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Luxshen Kugel

This is a classic Jewish recipe, made differently by different people, depending on where in Eastern Europe their family originated. “Luxshen” means noodle and a “kugel” is literally a pudding, but sometimes it comes off more as a casserole. This sweet noodle pudding makes a delicious dessert or can be served as a sweet side dish with a full meal. It can be served either hot or cold. Read below under Directions for suggested transformations that will make the dish gluten-free or lactose-free, if necessary. To start with, though, here is the fundamental luxshen kugel recipe that my mother passed down to me.

Ingredients

12 oz. broad egg noodles (recipe also works with 8 oz. or 16 oz. OK)
¼ lb. butter
½ lb. sour cream
½ lb. cottage cheese
3 eggs (separate yolk and white)
½ c. honey
½ c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
½ c. raisins
2 tsp. cinnamon
dash of salt
dusting of nutmeg

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350º. Boil the noodles until done. Grease an 8x12 baking dish. Slice the butter into ¼-inch slices. When the noodles are done, drain them, place them in a mixing bowl, and melt the butter into them. In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream, cottage cheese, honey, milk, vanilla, raisins, and cinnamon. Crack the eggs and separate them, putting the yolks into the sour cream mixture and the whites into a separate bowl alone. Put the dash of salt into the egg whites and beat them until they are stiff. Combine the sour cream mixture with the noodles and stir until well blended. Then add the egg whites, folding the noodle and sour cream mixture in carefully while keeping the egg whites as fluffy as possible. Put the kugel into the baking dish and dust the top with nutmeg. Bake the kugel for one hour, uncovered. Check it after 45 minutes. If the top is getting too brown, then put foil over it for the last 15 minutes.

Now for the variations.

To make this dish gluten-free, simply use rice noodles instead of wheat noodles. Any type of noodle can be used, but flat noodles usually work best. If you use a long noodle, like a linguine, break the noodles in half before boiling.

It could be challenging to make a version of this dish that will accommodate the lactose-intolerant. Most people who have trouble with lactose have no difficulty with full-fat foods because they contain little or no lactose. So keep the butter in this version. Either use a tofutti sour cream or use full-fat sour cream with no reduced fat content, and either omit the cottage cheese or use a cottage cheese that is not reduced fat. For the milk you can either use whole milk or lactose-free milk. How many accommodations you make will depend on how sensitive the lactose-intolerant eater is.

Many children are not fond of raisins so I want to mention that this recipe works just as well without them. On the other hand, if you are making this dish for people who like fruit, then try combining dark and golden raisins and adding some fresh apples. If you add apples, I suggest that you peel them, chop them, and sauté them in a little butter until soft before putting them into the kugel.

Serve the kugel piping hot or allow it to cool, refrigerate it, and cut it into squares.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Potato Salad

Nothing hits the spot with barbecue like a good potato salad. Here’s a basic recipe. If you want a vegan version, skip the eggs and use a vegan mayonnaise.

Ingredients

4-5 medium-sized potatoes (about 5 cups)
1 red pepper
½ c. chopped onion or 1 tbsp. onion powder/granules
½ c. chopped celery
3 hard-boiled eggs
½ c. mayonnaise (use more if you like it creamier)
¼ c. sweet pickle relish
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. black pepper
1-2 tsp. dill weed
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tsp. celery seed
dusting of paprika
salt to taste

Directions

Bring 12 cups of water (and a tsp. of salt) to bowl in a pot with ample room for the potatoes. While waiting for the water to boil, chop the potatoes into chunks of approximately one inch. When the water is at a rolling bowl, put the potatoes in. They will take about 20 minutes of cooking at a rolling bowl. Check them periodically with a fork to be sure they are not too mushy. You want them just soft, not crunchy.

You can boil the eggs separately or, do as I do, and toss them into the pot of boiling potatoes for 10 minutes. They are easy to fish out with a pair of tongs. Cool the eggs immediately in cold water and peel them right away. (If you wait to peel them then you will have trouble getting the shells off nicely.) Chop the eggs as if for egg salad before combining them with the other ingredients.

Chop the vegetables into small pieces. Use fresh dill and fresh parsley if possible.

When the potatoes are cooked to satisfaction, drain them, rinse them in cold water in a colander, and combine them with all the other ingredients in a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise last. Put the potato salad in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour before serving. Dust the top with paprika.

For a creamier potato salad, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter into the potatoes when they are hot out of the pot and add a couple of tablespoons of sour cream to the salad.

Adjust ingredients proportionately for a larger batch.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mediterranean Rice and Pepper Salad

Good for potlucks, gluten-free, this salad is fresh and tasty. Cilantro lovers will especially enjoy this one. Notice that you must make this in advance and allow it to marinate for a half an hour (at least). Also leave advance time to cook the rice (45 minutes) if you are starting from scratch with no leftover rice handy.

Ingredients

3 cups cooked rice
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped yellow pepper
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/3 c. pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
¼ c. fresh chopped cilantro (packed cup)
1/3 c. olive oil
3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp. dry white wine
½ tsp. ground black pepper

Directions

Cook the rice. About one cup of uncooked rice will yield the three cups of cooked rice. I like to use exotic and wild rices (in combination). Ordinary brown rice will work fine with this recipe. It is also possible to substitute quinoa for the rice. Make sure the rice is cooled down to at least room temperature before adding any other ingredients (or the vegetables will wilt and the cheese will get mushy).

Chop the vegetables and cilantro and combine them with the (cooled) cooked rice. Add the olive oil, vinegar, wine, and black pepper. Finally, carefully fold in the crumbled feta. For an attractive appearance, save out some of the feta and cilantro to sprinkle on top.

Allow the salad to marinate in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour before serving. This dish goes well with other Mediterranean food, such as hummus, falafel, babaganoush (eggplant), or tomato/cucumber salad.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pan-Fried Green Beans in Tarragon

This is a simple recipe and it seems to be a great way to get vegetables into folks who don’t usually like vegetables, particularly children. The trick to getting it right is to use fresh, crisp, nice green beans and to stir them constantly so that they don’t get burned. Don’t cook them too long, just enough. Keep them bright green and crispy.

Ingredients

3-4 cups of fresh green beans with ends snapped off
2-3 tbsp. olive oil (adjust as needed for the amount of green beans)
1 tbsp. butter (can be omitted for vegans)
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. tarragon
½ tsp. black pepper
salt to taste

Directions

Snap the green bean ends off and cut the green beans into lengths of 1-2 inches long. Put the olive oil into a deep-dish frying pan and heat over medium heat for a couple of minutes. If you include the butter, you probably don’t need quite so much olive oil. The butter adds a nice rich flavor, but is not necessary if you are cooking for vegans. Once the oil is hot, turn the heat down to low and add the green beans and herbs.

Cook the mixture on low to medium heat, uncovered, stirring frequently for approximately 8 minutes. If you cover the pan, the green beans will steam and become soggy so leave the lid off. You want the beans to be just cooked, still a bit crispy, but not at all raw. If you need more oil to keep the beans from sticking to the pan then add it cautiously, one tbsp. at a time.

Other optional ingredients to add to the pan with the green beans: ½ a red pepper chopped fine, 8 small mushrooms or one medium Portobello mushroom chopped fine, and/or ½ cup chopped walnuts (these other ingredients are not recommended for picky eaters and children as they may prevent them from eating this dish)

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Balsamic Zucchini Squash on the Grill or in the Pan

I use the same basic recipe to cook this squash on the stove-top or to marinate it and cook it on the grill. Either way, it’s simple and scrumptious. If you grill it as a vegetarian choice at a BBQ, make sure to grill up enough for the meat-eaters too since it will be very popular. The ingredients are the same for either cooking method.

Ingredients


1 or 2 small- or medium-sized zucchini squash cut into one-inch cubes
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
3-4 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
2-3 cloves crushed garlic (depending on size of cloves and how much you love garlic)

Directions

In the Pan:
Do not peel the squash. Cut the squash into cubes. Crush the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a deep dish frying pan over high heat until it is hot (about 2 minutes). Add the squash and the crushed garlic, turn the heat down to medium, and stir the squash frequently so that it doesn’t burn to the bottom. For more squash, you may need more olive oil. Use enough oil to coat the squash and prevent it from sticking. Cook the squash in the olive oil for about 3-4 minutes. Then add the Balsamic vinegar and turn the heat to low. Cook uncovered until the squash is tender, about 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. For more squash, you may need to add a little more vinegar.

On the Grill:
Do not peel the squash. Cut the squash into cubes. The squash needs to marinate for at least 30 minutes before you put it on the grill. There are two ways you can marinate it. You can put the squash cubes into a plastic Ziploc bag with the olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, and crushed garlic. If you use this method, zip the bag shut and toss it until the contents are thoroughly mixed and the squash is completely coated with oil and vinegar. After 30 minutes, remove the cubes from the bag and put them on skewers for easy grilling. This is a bit messy. A tidier way to marinate the squash is to put the squash cubes onto the skewers before marinating. Then put the marinade into a cookie sheet. Lay the squash skewers inside the cookie sheet and turn them over and over until the squash is coated with marinade. Let the squash sit in the marinade for 15 minutes, then turn it over on the other side for 15 minutes. The trick to the cookie sheet method is to use skewers that are short enough to fit within the cookie sheet so that the squash sits well down in the marinade. Once marinated, put the squash skewers on the grill and cook until the squash begins to brown.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pesto Lasagna Casserole

This is a variation on the Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna Casserole. Basically you substitute the tomato sauce with pesto. It’s one of those dishes that you kind of can’t stop eating because it’s just too good! And it’s perfect for the summer when you have fresh basil in the garden (or handy from the Farmer’s Market). Try making it with fresh pesto (see my pesto recipe) for a meal that will take you to heaven and back.

Ingredients

16 oz. pasta (spiral or curly pasta is better, rice pasta can be used)
¾ cup basil pesto (see my pesto recipe)
8 oz. grated cheese (use an Italian blend, such as mozzarella, cheddar,
parmesan, asiago, and romano)
2 eggs
9 oz. chopped spinach
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 tbsp. dry red wine (a merlot or cabernet works well)
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped onions or 2 tbsp. onion powder
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano or 2 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. black pepper
salt to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease an oblong baking dish. Boil the pasta until it is done al dente.

Sauté the onion and mushrooms in olive oil for about 3 minutes, until soft, stirring frequently. Add the red wine and place the chopped spinach on top then put a lid on the pan to steam the spinach until it wilts. Do not overcook the spinach. If you are using fresh oregano then steam that with the spinach. Beat the eggs and combine with the vegetable sauté.

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and blend together thoroughly. Spread the ingredients in the oblong baking dish. Bake for 50 minutes uncovered.

Other vegetables may be added, such as olives, artichoke hearts, or sun-dried tomatoes. However, I recommend no more than 2 cups of added veggies (in addition to the spinach, mushroom, and onion already in the recipe). Otherwise the lasagna becomes overpowered with veggies.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sweet Summer Squash Sauté

The ingredients for this dish can come straight out of the summer garden. I like to use a medley of zucchini and patty pan squashes. Patty pans come in several colors. A variety of yellow and green squashes makes this dish almost too beautiful to eat. Try serving it over rice or pasta for a complete meal.

Ingredients


4-5 cups of uncooked squash sliced or cubed
½ cup chopped green beans
¾ cup finely chopped red peppers
2 cups chopped tomatoes
6 large mushrooms chopped (optional)
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
½ cup chopped fresh basil (or 2 tbsp. dried but fresh is much better)
¼ cup chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tbsp. dried)
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine
2 tbsp. lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)
2 tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
salt to taste

Directions


Chop all the vegetables and herbs so that they are ready to go. Put the olive oil, red wine, lemon juice, and honey into a deep dish frying pan and heat on high for 2 minutes. Add all the vegetables and herbs to the pan. (Do not put the cheese in the pan, that’s for later as a topping.)

Cook the ingredients together on medium high heat for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are as soft or as crunchy as you like. If you put a lid on the pan, the vegetables will steam and will cook quickly but will be softer and mushier. If you want them to remain crispier, cook uncovered. In either case, stir frequently. After about 10 minutes of cooking, try a piece of squash to see if it’s cooked to your taste. If you slice the squash it will cook faster and be softer. Cubed squash will take longer to cook and will be easier to keep crispy.

The Parmesan cheese works well as a topping. This dish is delicious all on its own or over rice or pasta.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Basil Pesto

My fresh pesto is one of my proudest moments. It’s wickedly delicious. Try this pesto on pasta, rice, bread, crackers, or pizza. It is spectacular simply spread on bread, with Parmesan cheese and fire-roasted red peppers on top, then heated up in the toaster oven. The scent of basil triggers the brain to experience joy, so have a whiff and rejoice.

Ingredients

3 cups packed fresh basil, cleaned and de-stemmed
3 cloves of garlic
¼ -½ cup olive oil (see how it goes)
¼ cup pine nuts
5 oz. Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese
¼ tsp. black pepper
salt to taste

Directions

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and whirl until creamy smooth. Be careful with the olive oil, don’t add too much. Start out with about ¼ cup and add more if needed to get the consistency right. Here is the secret to exceptional pesto: basil flowers. The most tasty pesto is made from fresh basil, picked straight from the garden, cleaned, and thrown directly into the food processor. There is nothing finer. I have found that adding some basil flowers into the mix does something indescribably special to the flavor. It’s the taste of summer.

Basil can be frozen in Ziploc bags and tastes surprisingly fresh when defrosted months (and even a year) later.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Garden Risotto

Use a medley of vegetables from the summer garden or your local Farmer’s Market to make this fresh veggie dish sparkle. In my house, this risotto reflects the daily harvest. Here is a standard version with red peppers, tomatoes, onions, and zucchini.

Ingredients


1 cup uncooked exotic rice blend
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
¾ cup finely chopped red peppers
2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
2 cups finely chopped zucchini
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup dry red wine (e.g., a merlot)
5-6 cups soup stock (or hot water with a dissolved vegetable bouillon cube)
¼ tsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. fresh thyme
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
salt to taste

Directions

If you have some vegetarian soup stock set aside (or care to take the time to make some), use it in this recipe, otherwise warm the water and dissolve a vegetable bouillon cube in it. Chop the vegetables so that they are ready to go when you need them. The onions, garlic, and red peppers will be added together. The tomatoes and zucchini will be added later.

In a large deep dish frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, and red peppers for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rice and continue to sauté for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently so that all the rice is sautéed. I like to use a rice blend of long-grain brown rice, red rice, black rice, and wild rice. Next add the red wine and stir until it is all absorbed. Turn the heat down to a simmer.

Add the soup stock ½ a cup at a time, stirring frequently until the liquid is absorbed before adding another ½ cup. Keep adding stock (and stirring occasionally) for about 20 minutes, then add the tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs, except for the basil (save that out awhile longer). Continue to add soup stock and continue to cook (and stir occasionally) for another 20 minutes. Then add the basil.

Now it is up to your taste. The rice should remain a bit crunchy (not turn to mush), but just how crunchy depends on what you perceive as done or not done. You can continue cooking the risotto, adding small increments of water/stock for as long as it takes for the rice to reach your idea of “done.” Be careful not to add too much water/stock (you don’t want it soggy). Once you are satisfied with the rice, turn the risotto out into a casserole dish and add the Parmesan cheese, stirring it in well so that it melts throughout. The vegan version of this dish is, of course, without the cheese.

Other vegetables that go well in this dish are green beans, fresh corn cut off the cob, asparagus, peas, carrots (for a bit more sweetness), and green peppers. Mix and match for delightful variations.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tomato, Feta, and Kalamata Olive Salad

This salad is an all-time favorite among my friends. In the summer, when I grow heirloom tomatoes, I eat a version of this salad every night with dinner. If I could grow only one thing in my garden, it would be tomatoes. I grow an assortment of heirloom tomatoes in a range of colors, oranges, yellows, reds, purples, and green zebras. My daughter recently told me that they sell this kind of salad as an appetizer at fancy restaurants for $15 a plate and call it by some upscale name that I can’t remember. I find that hilarious. For a party or barbecue, try making this recipe with a colorful array of heirloom tomatoes. It will be the most popular dish on the table!

Ingredients

6 large heirloom tomatoes, assorted colors
1 c. crumbled Feta cheese
1 c. pitted Kalamanta olives
2 c. chopped fresh basil leaves
4-6 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
½ c. chopped red onions (optional)

Directions

Slice the tomatoes and lay them in a deep serving platter. Crumble the Feta cheese over the tomatoes. A note about Feta: this cheese can be made from cow milk, sheep milk, and/or goat milk. I like to use the purely goat milk Feta because I prefer the flavor. Scatter olives across the salad. Top with finely chopped basil leaves (and chopped onions if desired). Just before serving, sprinkle the olive oil and red wine vinegar onto the salad so that all parts receive a sprinkle. How much oil and vinegar? It varies depending on how many tomatoes you have (what sizes they are). You don’t want the salad to be too soggy, but you can be pretty generous with the oil and vinegar. I like to chill the tomatoes in advance for this salad.

This recipe is for the royal treatment version of this salad. I frequently make it with just the tomatoes, basil, oil, and vinegar. Left-over tomatoes (that have marinated in the oil and vinegar overnight) are terrific on a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pan-Fried Zucchini Squash and Tomatoes

If you have a habit, like me, of growing a bit too much zucchini squash in the summer, then you probably have your own zucchini repertoire. This is one of my favorite simple zucchini recipes.

Ingredients

3-4 cups sliced or cubed zucchini
2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1 cup chopped red peppers
½ cup chopped onions (or 1 tbsp. onion powder)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 cloves crushed garlic (depending on size of cloves)
3 tbsp. fresh chopped basil (or 2 tsp. dried basil)
2 tbsp. fresh chopped oregano (or 1 tsp. dried oregano)
½ tsp. black pepper
salt to taste

Directions

Cut up the vegetables. Put the tomatoes, onion, and olive oil into a deep-dish frying pan and heat over medium heat until the juice starts to bubble (a couple of minutes). Then turn the heat down to low and add the squash, pepper, and the rest of the ingredients.

Cook the mixture on low to medium heat, uncovered, stirring frequently for approximately 15 minutes. The squash should be soft when poked with a fork but not soggy. If you cover the pan, the vegetables will steam and become soggy so leave the lid off. You want the squash to be just cooked, still a bit crispy, but not at all raw.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gluten-Free Cornbread

The biggest challenge to giving up gluten for my husband and myself was finding satisfying bread. We both love bean dishes and nothing goes with beans like a good cornbread. So I developed this cornbread recipe that’s gluten-free. Many of my friends prefer my gluten-free cornbread to the traditional variety.

Ingredients

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup brown rice flour
3 tbsp. maple syrup
2½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
½ cup water
¼ cup melted butter

Directions


Combine the dry ingredients and blend well. Beat the eggs. Melt the butter. Combine the wet ingredients. Put the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and blend just until moistened and no dry pockets of cornmeal and flour remain.

Put the batter in an eight-inch square baking dish. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 425º for 20-25 minutes. Insert a knife to see if it’s done and continue to bake for a few more minutes if the inside is still wet.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hummus Dip

I once cooked for a dinner party that I called “Food from the Land of the Bible.” It was all Middle Eastern delights. A good hummus is the centerpiece for such a meal. I like to put a little tahini in my hummus and then serve it with Greek olives. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

16 oz. can of chick peas (or 2 cups soaked and cooked chick peas)
¼ c. tahini
¼ c. olive oil
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 large clove crushed garlic (or 1 tsp. garlic powder)
½ tsp. cumin powder

Directions

Whirl the ingredients together in a food processor. Adjust the texture to your liking by adding small increments of olive oil. If you are a big fan of garlic, add more to your taste.

Serve with olives (of course) and whole wheat pita breads, crackers, or sliced vegetables (e.g., celery, carrot, jicama, cucumber, red pepper, raw asparagus). The best companion for hummus is falafel. And by-the-way, in my experience, children love a good hummus. I have even been able to get vegetable-haters to eat hummus on sliced vegetables.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cucumber Dill Salad (With or Without Tomatoes)

This is an exceptional summer vegetable dish that goes well with barbecue and is unbelievably easy to make. Great for those hot, hot days.

Ingredients

2 cucumbers
1 tbsp. dried dill or 3 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1/3 c. mayonnaise (for a vegan version, use a vegan mayo substitute)
3 tomatoes (optional)

Directions

Scrape the skin from the cucumbers. Slice thin. I think this salad is even better with sliced tomatoes, but it also works well without them too. If you want to include tomatoes, slice them (and be sure to capture their juice in the salad). Toss the cucumbers (and tomatoes) with the mayonnaise and dill. Refrigerate the salad (covered) for at least an hour before serving. This salad needs to sit for awhile to let the vegetable juice(s) mingle with the mayonnaise so plan ahead.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Collards and Portobello Mushrooms

Vegetarian collard greens could easily turn out dull and uninteresting, but a little garlic and orange juice do the trick nicely to punch these up. The mushrooms stand in for meat and fill out this totally gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan dish, which goes exceptionally well with pasta or as a side dish vegetable.

Ingredients

2 large bunches of collard greens (see below for preparation instructions)
1 Portobello mushroom sliced thin
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 crushed cloves of garlic
2 tbsp. grated orange peel (fresh-grated is best)
juice from one fresh-squeezed large orange (do not substitute orange juice—if you don’t have an orange handy, use a lemon, preferably a sweet one like a Meyer)
salt to taste

Directions

Fill a large pot with enough water to amply cover the collards once they are chopped, add a teaspoon of salt and bring the water to a boil.

Slice the Portobello mushroom into thin pieces. First slice up the mushroom and then cut each slice in half again the long way so that you have long thin mushroom pieces. Set the mushroom aside. Squeeze the juice from one orange and set that aside too.

Remove the central stem from the collards. Place 4-6 leaves on top of each other and roll them up width-wise into a tight tube, then slice them into thin strips. Follow this pattern with all the collards until they are all cut into thin shreds. When the water comes to a boil, simmer the collards, uncovered, for 8 minutes. While the collards are cooking, fill a large bowl with ice water. After the collards have cooked for 8 minutes, drain them in a colander and place them into the ice water, which will help them retain their bright green color.

Put the oil into a deep dish frying pan and bring it to a high heat, then turn it back to medium and place the garlic and mushrooms in the pan. Sauté the garlic and mushrooms, turning gently, for 2-3 minutes (until the mushrooms are cooked but not slimy). Add the collards (and ½ teaspoon of salt if you are a salt eater) and the grated orange peel. Continue to sauté for another 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the orange juice and cook for another 30 seconds to warm up the juice. This dish is best if served immediately.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Red Lentils and Butternut Squash with Garam Masala

This East Indian dish is a perfect companion for any curry dinner. Try it with the Curried Potato and Vegetables dish, a cucumber/yogurt raita, and a mango chutney. Heaven. It’s vegan and gluten-free. You’d be surprised how many children like it. It also goes well with a pan-fried tofu.

Ingredients

1½ cups red lentils
2 cups butternut squash peeled and chopped (see directions)
3 cups water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. cumin seed
1 tbsp. Garam Masala

Directions

Scrape the skin off the butternut squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds. Chop the butternut into sections about 1/8 inch wide and no more than 2 inches across. Whatever squash you don’t use in this recipe, you can freeze for later use or cook up separately. For this recipe, use about 2 cups of chopped butternut.

Bring the water to a boil. Add the red lentils, 1 tbsp. olive oil, and the butternut squash. Simmer on low heat, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning to the bottom of the pot. When lentils and squash are thoroughly cooked, mash them together so that they are blended well (it is not necessary to put this through the blender unless the slightly chunky texture bothers you).

While the lentils and squash are cooking, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a small frying pan. When the oil is hot, toss in the cumin seeds and fry them gently, turning frequently, for 5 minutes.

Add the cumin seed and Garam Masala to the cooked squash and lentils. If you don’t have a good source for Garam Masala, you can make your own by combining the following spices: coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cloves. Go lightly on the cloves and heavy on the coriander.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chile Relleno Casserole

For years I made chile rellenos in the pan, carefully frying each one, taking great pains to coat them well with the flour mixture and not burn them, until I discovered the casserole version, which is so much easier and tastes just as good if not better, all fluffy and cheesy. If you can’t eat gluten, substitute the wheat flour in this recipe with either rice flour or teff flour. The teff is heavier than the rice, but has a nice flavor. Which substitute flour works better for you is a matter of taste.

Ingredients

1 two-pound can of whole green chiles (about a dozen to fifteen chiles)
8 eggs, with whites separated from yolks
3/4 cup milk (lactose-free works fine)
1 cup flour (wheat, rice, or teff)
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 lb. Monterey jack and/or cheddar cheese
1 tsp. chili powder
1 bunch cilantro (about ½ cup), washed and chopped
2 tsp. oil to grease the baking dish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat an oblong baking dish with vegetable oil.

Cut the cheese into chunks about 1/8-inch wide and stuff the chiles generously with the cheese. Place each cheese-stuffed chile in the baking dish. Reserve ¾ cup of grated cheese for the top of the casserole.

Once all the chiles are stuffed and in the baking dish, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Set the egg whites to one side. You don’t need all the egg yolks. About 4 or 5 is sufficient. Combine the egg yolks with the milk and beat together. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and chili powder. Next add a touch of salt to the egg whites and beat them up stiff and fluffy. Once they are beaten stiff, fold the flour mixture into the egg whites then mix in the egg and milk mixture. When all these ingredients are well-combined, pour them over the chiles. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top (cheddar makes for a nice color) and then sprinkle the chopped cilantro on top of that.

Bake the chile rellenos for 45 minutes or until no longer wet.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Guacamole

A Cinco de Mayo favorite and good all year round to complement any Mexican- or Latin-style dinner, guacamole is more multi-dimensional than at first sight. I have two different versions, one more complex and the other simple and stunning. This recipe is for the more complex guacamole, read about the simple one in the directions below.

Ingredients

3 ripe avocados mashed completely or partially depending on preferred texture
1 large tomato chopped
1 crushed garlic clove or ¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ cup finely chopped onions or 1 tsp. onion powder
½ c. fresh cilantro chopped fine
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
¼ tsp. chili powder

Directions

Combine ingredients listed above. Serve fresh immediately for the best flavor. To help prevent the guacamole from losing its beautiful green color, leave one or two avocado pits in it. I have been told (by a Mexican-American friend) that the pits also add flavor secrets to the guacamole if let to stand for a few minutes.

For a more simple guacamole, that is quite delicious and delicate in its more simple, clear flavor, go with just avocadoes, lemon/lime juice, and cilantro.

Look for my Enchiladas recipe or my Beans with Cilantro and Tomato. Both of these are terrific with guacamole.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Knock-Out Macaroni and Cheese

This macaroni and cheese will be a hit every time you make it. Children love it. It works perfectly to complement many other dishes (including that meat and fish that I don’t eat) and is an excellent contribution to any potluck dinner. Great for Thanksgiving. It is an all-around comfort food and so easy to prepare that you will never go back to those cardboard packaged versions again. In my opinion, the trick to my macaroni and cheese that makes it so popular is that I use a ridiculously abundant amount of cheese and do not skimp on the butter.

Ingredients

16 oz. elbow macaroni or spiral pasta (use rice pasta for the gluten-free version)
1 lb. grated cheddar cheese
3 large eggs
1¼ cup milk
1 stick butter (approximately ½ cup)
½ cup wheat germ (or flax seed meal for the gluten-free version)
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. black pepper
generous dusting of paprika
salt to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease an oblong baking dish.

Boil the pasta until it is done. When it is cooked, toss it lightly with ¼ cup of butter, sliced so that it melts quickly into the warm pasta. Add the onion powder and black pepper (and salt if desired) and mix them into the pasta well.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add the milk. Grate the cheese.

Spread a generous layer of the macaroni (about 1/3 of the total macaroni) in the baking dish. Cover that layer with grated cheese. Spread half the remaining macaroni over the grated cheese layer. Cover that with another thick layer of grated cheese. Keep some of the cheese out to put on top. Spread the last (thinner) layer of macaroni and sprinkle the last of the cheese on top of that. Pour the egg and milk mixture evenly over the macaroni and cheese, making sure it sinks in. Sprinkle the wheat germ (or flax seed meal) over the top then dot with butter. Dust the top with paprika.

Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes at 350°. Then remove the foil and allow it to continue to bake uncovered for another 15 minutes to crisp the top. You’re children will be sniffing around the kitchen when they smell this one in the oven!

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna Casserole

This is a terrific way to simplify lasagna. The most difficult part of making a good lasagna is dealing with those flat noodles. This version of lasagna is so much quicker and easier, you can pack more vegetables into it, and you can make it with rice pasta if you are sensitive to gluten. There is no way around the cheese in it for the lactose intolerant; however, if you have difficulty with lactose then skip the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and substitute more hard cheeses, such as parmesan or romano, for a dish that is easier on your digestion. Using spiral or curly pasta will give this dish the same feel as a traditional lasagna.

Ingredients


16 oz. pasta (spiral or curly pasta is better, rice pasta can be used)
24 oz. tomato sauce
8 oz. grated cheese (use an Italian blend, such as mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, asiago, and romano)
¼ cup grated parmesan, romano or asiago cheese for the top
¾ cup ricotta cheese
3 eggs
9 oz. chopped spinach
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine
2 cups chopped mushrooms (or one large Portobello mushroom)
1/3 cup chopped onions or 2 tbsp. onion powder
2 large cloves crushed garlic
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil or 2 tbsp. dried basil
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano or 2 tbsp. dried oregano
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley or 1 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. black pepper
dusting of paprika
salt to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease an oblong baking dish. Boil the pasta until it is done al dente.

Sauté the onion and mushrooms in olive oil for about 3 minutes, until soft. Add the red wine and the spinach on top and put a lid on the pan to steam the spinach until it wilts. If you are using fresh basil, oregano, and/or parsley, steam that with the spinach. If the vegetables are very wet, drain off liquid before adding them to the rest of the ingredients (it’s OK to include a tablespoon or two of the liquid). Beat the eggs and combine with the ricotta cheese.

Combine all the ingredients, except the paprika and the ¼ cup of cheese reserved for the top of the casserole, in a large mixing bowl. Spread the ingredients in the oblong baking dish. Sprinkle the ¼ cup of cheese on top and dust with paprika. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes uncovered.

Other vegetables may be added, such as red or green peppers, olives, artichoke hearts, or sun-dried tomatoes. However, I recommend no more than 2-½ cups of veggies (in addition to the spinach). Otherwise the lasagna becomes overpowered with veggies. If you want more veggies in the meal, then serve this dish with a green salad or a ratatouille.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cheese and Spinach Soufflé

This basic soufflé recipe can be used for a variety of cheese and vegetable combinations. First, the basic recipe, then some suggestions for variations on the theme.

Ingredients

5 eggs (yolks and whites to be separated)
½ cup mayonnaise
4 tbsp. flour (rice flour works just as well as wheat if you can’t eat gluten)
½ tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ c. finely diced onion or 2 tsp. onion powder
1 large crushed garlic clove or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
9 oz. fresh spinach
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. tarragon
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. black pepper
dusting of paprika
salt to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°. Heat the olive oil in a skillet until frying-hot then add the onion. Reduce the heat and gently sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat down low and add the spinach. If you use fresh basil, tarragon, and/or parsley, add that with the spinach. Cover the skillet and steam the spinach until it wilts.

Separate the yolks and whites. Place the whites into a mixing bowl by themselves to be used shortly. Note that this recipe only works if the eggs are cold because the egg whites will need to be beaten stiff. The yolks go into a mixing bowl to be blended with the other ingredients.

Combine the egg yolks, mayonnaise, flour, baking powder, cheese, and herbs in a mixing bowl. Press all liquid out of the vegetables, then add them to the egg yolk mixture. Blend all the ingredients well.

Shake a little salt into the egg whites as this will help them beat up fluffy. Beat them on high until they are stiff and stand in peaks when you lift the beaters out. Grease a deep eight-inch round casserole dish and then put the egg whites into it. Add the mixture of ingredients and fold them gently into the egg whites, blending all together in a soapy sort of soup. Dust the top with paprika.

Bake for 45 minutes at 325°. Check to be sure the soufflé is done by inserting a knife in the middle. It should come out pretty clean with no gooey mixture stuck to it. Bake for longer if the soufflé is not done. You have to serve the soufflé immediately if you want it to be admired for its fluffy appearance because it will drop swiftly, but it will still taste delicious after it drops.

Here are some suggestions for other terrific combinations for this soufflé. Try using chopped marinated artichoke hearts and jack or fontina cheese. Sun-dried tomatoes are a great addition to any combination. Small cherry tomatoes (about a handful) are sweet and tasty. Be sure to pierce each with a knife before adding to the mixture. Mushrooms are a little heavy for a soufflé, but if you chop them fine and sauté them, you can do a lovely mushroom and Swiss cheese version. Asparagus and smoked cheddar is a good combo too, just chop and sauté the asparagus beforehand. Any vegetable that you use should be drained of any water resulting from cooking. If the soufflé gets too wet, it won’t fluff up properly.

Note that these soufflés go well with the roasted potato medley for a fine dinner.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan Three Different Ways

My eggplant parmesan has evolved over the years. Before I had children, I took the time to make a classic old-fashioned eggplant parmesan with each tender piece of eggplant battered and fried to perfection. Once I had children, I couldn’t take the time to make a traditional eggplant parmesan, so I developed a quick and easy version that the children would eat. When the children grew up, I went back to making my labor-intensive classic parmesan. These days, I am working on my gluten-free eggplant parmesan so I have some terrific ideas to share on that topic. Here are the recipes, which comprise the evolution of my eggplant parmesan.

Eggplant Parmesan the Old-Fashioned Way


Ingredients

1 eggplant, peeled and sliced in ½-inch rounds
olive oil as needed
2 or 3 eggs (depending on the size of the eggplant, start with 2)
1½ cups flour with a sprinkle of black pepper, oregano, and paprika
4-5 cups tomato sauce (homemade or store-bought, your choice)
1 lb. grated cheese (see below about type of cheese)
Oregano (see below)

Directions

Beat the eggs in a wide bowl until fluffy. Put the flour and herbs (blended) on a dinner-sized plate. Grease a rectangular baking dish with oil and preheat the oven to 350°. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.

Pour a thin film of olive oil in a large skillet and heat to frying-hot. Dip each round of eggplant into the eggs (coat completely), then coat it in the flour mixture (completely), then place it in the skillet. Fry the eggplant rounds until the flour is crispy brown, then turn them and fry the other side to crispy brown. When they are done place them in the tomato sauce in the baking dish. Rinse the skillet out with water before frying the next batch of eggplant to prevent it from picking up burnt bits of batter. Re-oil the pan with fresh olive oil for the next batch. Do this between every fry-batch of eggplant rounds so that they are each fried in a clean skillet with fresh oil.

After each batch of eggplant rounds is placed into the baking dish, place a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce on them, sprinkle oregano on them, and then put a generous amount of grated cheese on top. Grated parmesan cheese is excellent. I like to use a combination of parmesan, mozzarella, and mild cheddar. There are also Italian cheese combinations sold pre-grated and pre-mixed. Choose a cheese that you like. Note that Fontina and cheddar is also a terrific combination.

When all the eggplant has been fried and placed in the baking dish, with sauce, oregano, and cheese on top, cover the dish with a lid or foil and bake at 350° for half an hour.


Eggplant Parmesan Quick and Easy for Busy Moms and Young Children


Here is a cheater’s way to make an easier version of eggplant parmesan that children will usually eat.

Ingredients


1 eggplant, peeled and sliced in ¼-inch rounds
4-5 cups tomato sauce
1 lb. grated cheddar and parmesan cheese
¼ - ½ cup wheat germ (note that flax seed meal can be used for a gluten-free version)
Oregano (see below)

Directions

Grease a rectangular baking dish with oil and preheat the oven to 350°. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Place the eggplant rounds (raw) into the baking dish. Put tomato sauce on each round, then sprinkle wheat germ on top, then put a generous heap of grated cheese on top of that. Then sprinkle with oregano. Cover the dish with a lid or foil and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes (until the eggplant is cooked to tenderness but not to mush).


Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan the Old-Fashioned Way

Follow the recipe above for the Old-Fashioned Eggplant Parmesan; however, substitute teff flour for the wheat flour. It will cook faster in the frying pan (so take care not to burn it) and be darker in color, but it tastes excellent. You can also sprinkle the top with flax seed meal for some extra flavor. Another variation on this theme that is gluten-free and delicious is to slice polenta into ½-inch rounds, fry it in the frying pan (not breaded of course) and intersperse the layers of eggplant with layers of polenta. You can make the Quick and Easy version with polenta layers as well, just remember to bake raw eggplant longer if you didn’t fry it first so that it cooks all the way through and gets tender. No one likes rubbery eggplant.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Quinoa and Tofu Curry

This dish works well for potlucks since it is a nice accompanying dish to many other foods and it is unusual because most people don’t think of using quinoa too often. (You can substitute the quinoa for a blend of exotic rices in this recipe for another excellent dish.) I use is a red quinoa that comes pre-rinsed. If you use an unrinsed quinoa, be sure to rinse it well first (as per instructions on the package).

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked red quinoa
2 cups water
olive oil as needed
6-10 oz. firm tofu
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
½ red pepper
3 tbsp. chives
2 tsp. curry powder (see below)
1 tsp. garam (optional)
1 cup cubed and roasted sweet potato (optional)
¼ cup slivered almonds or pine nuts (optional)

Directions

Bring the water to a boil, add the quinoa, and simmer covered on low temperature until all the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). Fluff with a fork and allow to sit for 5 minutes, covered.

If you want to include the sweet potato in this dish, it will need to be roasted in the oven beforehand. Scrape the skin off the sweet potato, cut it into cubes about ½ inch to ¾ inch square, toss approximately 1 cup of sweet potato cubes with 2 tbsp. olive oil and bake for 30 minutes (or until just tender) at 350° on a cookie sheet.

For this dish, I like to use the savory baked tofu or teriyaki baked tofu already prepared. You can also make your own tofu using my Pan-Fried Tofu Recipe. If you use the prepared tofu, cut it into ½-inch cubes and pan-fry it lightly in olive oil until just browned.

Chop the red pepper and chives.

If you have a curry powder that you like, use that for seasoning. If not, the main ingredients I look for in a curry powder (or use when I throw one together) are turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper, and coriander. The garam adds a slightly sweet spicy flavor as it usually includes coriander, ginger, and cinnamon.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fruit Shake

Two of my three children ate a flimsy few fruits or vegetables when they were young. I managed to get fruit into them by serving a fruit shake with dinner most nights. Because it was made with real fruit, it had a lot of fiber and vitamins. I was not worried about the sugar calories for my skinny children (who rarely got their hands on carbonated sugar drinks). Here is my standard fruit shake recipe, with some further variations.

Ingredients

1 cup fresh or frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, and/or raspberries)
1 large fresh or frozen banana (or equivalent amount of banana)
2/3 cup frozen mango
1 cup apple juice
1 cup orange juice

Directions

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. This recipe makes enough fruit shake for about four people.

Now here are the tips and details. I usually don’t use blackberries or raspberries in the recipe because they are pretty seedy. My children preferred just blueberries and strawberries. I always poured the last glass for myself because it had most of the berry seeds in the bottom. If you use frozen fruit, the shake comes out particularly cold and sherbet-like. I usually use frozen berries and mangoes (bought packaged) for fruit shakes. Whenever I have over-ripe bananas, I break them into pieces about an inch and a half in length and put them into the freezer in a freezer bag. When it comes time to make a fruit shake, I put in the equivalent of a large banana in frozen pieces. Depending on your blender, you might have to use the ice crush setting a few times at first to get the large frozen fruit pieces started.

Over the years, we have used a number of variations on this recipe. One of my children substitutes vanilla yogurt for the banana. He makes his shake with mango, blueberries, vanilla yogurt, and orange juice. I like pineapple in the shake, but not all my children like pineapple. If I’m making one for myself, I will sometimes put frozen or canned pineapple into it. Other fruit juices work for it too if you don’t have orange or apple juice on hand. Lately we have been using strawberry kiwi juice.

Although this fruit shake is a terrific way to get plant fiber, vitamins, and minerals into your picky-eater children, it’s not a good staple in the diet of older folks since it has a lot of calories. As my daughter says, for adults a fruit shake is a meal in itself, not a drink to accompany a meal.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thyme for Turnip and Spinach Soup

This is a creamed soup, but you can do it with milk, lactose-free milk, or soy milk to suit your diet. It’s hard to recommend that you skip the butter, since it makes it oh so delicious, but if you are vegan or lactose-intolerant then you can substitute olive oil for the butter. I recommend that you make your own vegetarian soup stock and use it in recipes such as this one. If you don’t have a good stock in your fridge, then you can use a half a bouillon cube, but this is a bit touch and go as it will impact the flavor in ways you can’t control.

Let me say a word about the turnips. Turnips can give soup a bitter flavor. To avoid that, be sure to peel all the skin off the turnips and select turnips that are small and tender. Use turnips that are about two inches across and not much larger. The tablespoon of sweetener in this recipe will help cut any bitterness, but the best way to get great flavor out of your turnips is to use the smaller ones.

Ingredients

8 young turnips (about two inches across) peeled and sliced (in ¼-inch slices)
9 oz. cleaned and trimmed spinach
1 cup water or vegetable soup stock (if you use water, you can add ½ a bouillon cube)
2 cups milk (lactose-free milk or plain soy milk will work)
3 tbsp. butter (or olive oil)
1 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. dry white wine
½ cup chopped onion or scallions (or 2 tbsp. onion powder)
2 tbsp. dried thyme or 3 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
½ tsp black pepper
salt to taste

Directions

Peel and slice the turnips. Wash the spinach greens so they are free of dirt and grit. It is not necessary to cut the spinach up as you will purée the soup before serving. Chop the onion or scallions.

Put the butter and water (or soup stock) into a pot and warm over low heat until the butter melts. Place the turnips and onions/scallions in the pot and cover it. Let this simmer for 7 minutes. Add all of the other ingredients. The spinach may not fit in your pot until it steams down so add it in increments (divide it into two or three bunches), covering the pot and allowing the spinach to wilt down, then adding more, until all the spinach is in the pot. The secret ingredient in this soup is the thyme: so simple, so tasty.

Cook the soup over a low heat until the turnips are soft enough for you to purée them easily in a blender. Be careful to keep the heat low enough so that you don’t burn the milk. Once the turnips are soft, put the soup in a blender and purée the mixture until creamy. If you have too much soup to fit in the blender all at once, simply do part of it and then do the rest (in two batches). Pour it back into the soup pot and warm it over low heat until piping hot. Garnish with chopped scallions or fresh thyme if you like.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pan-Fried Tofu

Children love this simple tofu dish. A little boy at a barbecue at our house once filled his plate with this fried tofu and exclaimed, “Look Mom, she made kung-fu. I love this stuff. Ask her how to cook this.” Made with mild spice, this tofu is excellent finger food for babies and toddlers. It fits perfectly into a vegetable fried rice or a curried quinoa. One of our standard family dinners while my children were growing up was pan-fried tofu, brown rice, and broccoli.

Ingredients

10-12 oz. nigari or firm tofu
3 tbsp. olive oil
splash of sesame oil (optional)
2 tbsp. soy or tamari sauce (use wheat-free for a no-gluten meal)
1 tbsp. ground ginger (or more to taste)
1 tsp. onion powder (or more to taste)
1 tsp. garlic powder (or more to taste)

Directions


Cut the tofu into chunks either 1 inch square and ¼ inch thick or oblongs about ½ inch thick and 2 inches long. Put the oil into a deep dish frying pan (I use cast iron) and heat on medium-high until the oil smokes slightly. When the oil is hot, add the tofu. It will spatter if it is wet, so you may want to put a lid on the frying pan for a minute until the spattering dies down. Add the soy/tamari sauce, again, it will spatter so be quick with the lid briefly until the spattering dies down. The trick to this dish is to continually stir the tofu so that it doesn’t stick to the pan. Make sure that all pieces are coated with oil and soy/tamari. You may need to add a little additional oil, but do this cautiously so that the tofu doesn’t get too greasy.

When the spattering stops and the tofu is cooking nicely, add the ginger, onion, and garlic and stir them around well.

Experiment with preferred taste to decide how long to cook the tofu. Be sure that it has at least started to brown before serving it (approximately 10 minutes). Some people like the tofu just barely cooked, others like it crispy and nearly burnt.

You can add finely chopped fresh ginger, onion, garlic, and/or sesame seeds while frying the tofu. For those who love spicy food, try adding a few drops of sesame chili oil or Mongolian Fire Oil either while cooking or after removing the tofu from the pan.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Enchiladas

This is a great recipe to cook for children, who usually gobble it up. The recipe also works well if you substitute my Beans with Cilantro for the refried beans. I like enchiladas because they are versatile. You can make different varieties all in one pan (just mark them off using toothpicks) and match everyone’s taste. Do some with refried red beans, some with refried black beans, some with cheddar, some with jack, or some with no cheese at all. Do some with tofu cheese substitute for vegans. Put chopped olives and scallions in or on some and not on others. You can cook for everyone with one pan of enchiladas. And this recipe is gluten-free. Here is the basic recipe.

Ingredients

12 corn tortillas
19-oz. can of enchilada sauce (check the label for spiciness to select the right level for your taste)
30 oz. can of refried beans (or, better yet, cook up a batch of "Beans with Cilantro and Tomato" and use that for the filling
2 cups grated cheese (cheddar is fine, but great with jack and/or Mexican cheeses)
vegetables of your choice optional (see below under directions)
2 tsp. oil to grease the baking dish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Rub an oblong baking dish with vegetable oil and spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the enchilada sauce into a pan or bowl that is larger than the size of the tortillas. Place the cheese onto a plate or into a bowl. Open the can of refried beans. Line up these ingredients so that the enchilada sauce is first, the baking dish next, the cheese next, and the beans last.

Put the corn tortillas on a plate and zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds. Turn the stack over, and zap it again for 30 seconds. If you do not do this, the tortillas will remain brittle and will break when you try to roll them.

Dip a tortilla into the enchilada sauce so that it is coated. Place it in the baking dish. Put two generous tablespoons of beans into the tortilla, sprinkle cheese onto the beans, and roll up the tortilla. If you want to include any vegetables in the enchilada (e.g., olives, scallions, tomatoes, corn, etc.) then put the vegetables in before rolling the tortilla. Repeat this process until all tortillas have been filled and are placed in the baking dish. Pour any extra enchilada sauce over the top of the tortillas and then sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake the enchiladas for 20 minutes.

Serve the enchiladas with chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, chopped cilantro, salsa, guacamole (or mashed avocado with a tablespoon of lemon juice), sour cream (tofutti or dairy) and/or Spanish rice. This recipe will make 12 enchiladas and serve approximately 5 people.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Roasted Potato Medley

There is nothing like potatoes for those rainy winter days. For a colorful potato dish, try this medley of roasted potatoes. Easy to prepare, beautiful to look at, and delicious. If you can’t find purple potatoes at your grocery store, try a health food store.

Ingredients

4 tbsp. olive oil
1 large sweet potato cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 cups purple potatoes cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 cups yellow potatoes cut into ¾-inch cubes (e.g., Yukon gold or other potato that is yellow on the inside as well as the outside)
1 cup red or white potatoes cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 tbsp. tarragon
(2 tbsp. rosemary – optional)
(1 tbsp. onion powder – optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°. Wash the potatoes well, removing all bad spots. Do not peel the skin off. Chop the potatoes into cubes and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the tarragon, salt, and pepper (rosemary and/or onion powder too if you like) to the potatoes. Pour the olive oil over the potatoes and toss them until all the potatoes are well-coated with oil and the herbs are spread evenly throughout. (I usually do not salt these potatoes ahead of time since different people use different amounts of salt.)

Spread the potatoes on a cookie sheet so that all potatoes are flat on the cookie sheet (none on top of each other). Bake in the oven at 375° for 40 minutes or until just tender to the fork.

This potato dish is a terrific companion dish to quiche.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Versatile Quiche

One of the most satisfying vegetarian meals is a quiche accompanied by a salad and roasted potatoes. Quiche can be made in infinite ways. Here is a basic quiche recipe, followed by suggested variations. You will need a pie crust for this recipe, which you can either make yourself or buy ready-made. For those who can’t eat gluten, I suggest Pamela’s gluten-free bread mix, which can be used to make a tasty pie crust (read the directions on the package).

Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil
½ onion, chopped (about ¾ cup) or 2 tbsp. onion powder
2 portabella mushrooms chopped
1 lb. spinach washed and chopped (be sure to wash out all the grit)
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
4 eggs
1 cup milk (lactose-free milk works fine)
2 small crushed cloves of garlic
3 or 4 tbsp. chopped basil (fresh or dry)
1 tbsp. chopped tarragon (fresh or dry)
1 tbsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste
pie crust

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°. Heat the olive oil in a skillet until frying-hot then add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Reduce the heat and gently fry until soft, about 3 minutes. Add more oil if necessary to prevent sticking. (You can put a little butter in too or instead of the olive oil.) Turn the heat down low and add the spinach. Cover the pan and steam until the spinach wilts. Press all liquid out of the vegetables before adding them to the egg. Beat the eggs then add the milk, grated cheese, and herbs/spices except the paprika. Add the fried vegetables. Pour the quiche mixture into the pie crust. Dust the top gently with the paprika. Bake the quiche at 425° for 15 minutes then turn the temperature down to 300° and bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the center is firm and not runny (check frequently). Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.


For other terrific combinations, substitute the following for the mushrooms and spinach and/or cheese. Mix and match! Be creative.
Marinated artichoke hearts chopped, small cherry tomatoes, and gruyere cheese (tip: pierce each cherry tomato with the tip of a knife before mixing in).
Chopped sundried tomatoes, chopped chard (or collards), and fontina cheese.
Asparagus chopped, red peppers chopped, and Swiss cheese.
Broccoli chopped, red peppers chopped, and smoked cheddar cheese.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Amy’s Easy Ratatouille

There are more recipes for ratatouille out there than there are vegetables in the world. Here is the simple one that I use.

Ingredients

3 tbsp. olive oil
½ onion, chopped (about ¾ cup) or 2 tbsp onion powder
1 15-ounce can plain stewed diced tomatoes or 3 chopped tomatoes
1 eggplant peeled and cut into cubes about ¾-inch square
4 small zucchini or equivalent (zucchini comes in many sizes, but you want about 2-½ cups for this recipe) cut into cubes about ¾-inch square
1 red pepper cut into pieces about ½-inch square
½ green pepper cut into pieces about ½-inch square
6 large chopped mushrooms
juice from 1 lemon
2 tbsp dry red wine
3 tbsp honey
3 crushed cloves of garlic
3 tbsp chopped parsley (fresh or dry)
3 tbsp chopped basil (fresh or dry)
1 tbsp chopped oregano (fresh or dry)
1 tsp thyme (fresh or dry)
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese

Optional other ingredients: olives, kale (stems removed, cut into small squares), celery, capers, carrots, green beans, chopped sundried tomatoes (my favorite addition), marinated artichoke hearts, chopped asparagus, broccoli florets, cauliflower, or, well, just about any veggie you love!

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a stew pot or deep skillet until frying-hot then add the onion and green peppers. Reduce the heat and gently fry for 3 minutes. Turn the heat down low and add the tomatoes, lemon juice, red wine, honey, garlic, eggplant, and herbs/spices. Cover and allow to simmer for 12 minutes. Then add the zucchini, red peppers, and mushrooms. Cover and allow to simmer until the zucchini is just soft, about another 10 minutes.

This dish is especially delicious when served topped with heaps of grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese. For an added twist, sprinkle chopped cashews on top.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Green Soup

This soup is made with zucchini squash and greens of your choosing, such as spinach, chard, and kale. It turns out bright green, and is packed with nutrition. It’s so good that even the children will eat it.

Ingredients


1 bunch of kale, chard, spinach and/or other greens
2 medium or 3 small zucchinis
1 celery stalk (or 1 tsp celery seed)
1/3 cup onion (or 1-1/2 tsp onion powder)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup milk or plain unsweetened soy milk (for the lactose-intolerant)
1 tbsp dill weed
½ tsp black pepper
garlic powder and/or salt optional (to taste)
1 tsp Bragg’s amino acids (optional)
2 cups vegetable stock OR 2 cups water and 1 vegetable bouillon cube

Directions

Wash the greens so they are free of dirt and grit. Remove the central vein from each piece of kale, chard, or other heavy leafy green. For spinach there is no need to do this. It is not necessary to cut the greens up any further as you will purée the soup before serving. Chop the zucchini (no need to peel it), onion, and celery into large pieces and put them into a large, covered pan/pot with the olive oil and ½ cup of the water or vegetable stock. If you use a bouillon cube, place it in the pan and be sure it is down into the liquid. Steam the vegetables covered over moderate heat until they are almost soft. Do not overcook. After the vegetables have a head start, but are not quite soft, add the greens. Put the lid back on the pan to steam the greens down on top of the other vegetables. The greens should be steamed until just wilted and still bright green.

Once all the vegetables are soft, place them in a blender with the liquid from the pan. Add the rest of the water or vegetable stock, milk, and spices. (If this is more than your blender will hold, then reserve some of the liquid ingredients and add after puréeing, when you return the soup to the pan.) An added taste treat is a teaspoon of Bragg’s amino acids (optional). Purée the soup until it is smooth, then pour it back into the pan. You can add more liquid if you want it thinner. Reheat the puréed soup in the pan. It can be served with a dollop of yogurt, sour cream, or tofutti sour cream.

There are many variations on this recipe. I have made it with steamed broccoli, asparagus, and leftover potatoes. Occasionally I have even thrown a medley of leftover vegetables into the blender with the soup. The key ingredient is the zucchini, which makes the soup whir up and become slightly frothy. Remember that vegetables with other colors, such as red peppers or carrots, will change the color of the soup and make it look muddy (also, carrots are too sweet for this soup and ruin the flavor). However, bearing that in mind, have fun experimenting with green soup combinations.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!