Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cucumber Yogurt Cups

If you need an appetizer for your New Years Eve Party, this is it. Your guests will love these cooling cucumber cups and everyone appreciates a healthy snack after the holidays. I used greek yogurt which is packed with protein and low in sugar. Cucumbers are mostly water which will help keep you hydrated as you sip on champagne. Happy New Year!


5 cucumbers peeled
1 1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup cream cheese
3 tsp finely chopped fresh dill
2 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
3 tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp salt to taste
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp agave syrup
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 a lemon squeezed fresh
1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber for sauce

For the Yogurt Sauce:
In a mixing bowl combine greek yogurt and cream cheese and mix together well so there are little to no lumps. Add chopped dill, mint, parsley and minced garlic mix all ingredients together. Add salt, pepper, agave syrup, white wine vinegar, lemon juice and chopped cucumber. Mix all ingredients together until blended well.

Prepare the Cucumbers:
Cut the remaining cucumbers to about 3/4 inch thick. Try to keep them all close to the same size. Use a melon baller or small spoon and scoop out the middle of each cucumber leaving a little on the bottom to create a cup.

Line up your cucumber cups and place about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of yogurt sauce into cucumber. Place them on a tray and they are ready to serve!

Yields: about 30 cucumber cups

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Fettucini

If you’ve seen the movie “The Holiday” you probably know where this idea came from. Every Christmas Eve I make Christmas Fettucini Alfredo for my husband and son. It is such a creamy delicious treat for us. In this recipe I don’t skimp on the dairy or fat which is why we only eat this once a year. Merry Christmas!


2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
1/2 of a white onion finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
1-2 tsp of salt to taste
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup flour
1 pint of heavy cream
1 cup water
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 package of fettucini noodles

In a large pot bring water to boil for fettucini noodles. Follow directions on the package to cook the noodles.

In a medium sauce pan heat oil and butter together on medium. Add onion, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper. Saute onion and garlic on medium for about 8-10 minutes until onions have softened. Once softened sprinkle flour over onions and garlic and stir together until paste-like. Pour in heavy cream and water. Add nutmeg and parmesan cheese. Stir together with a wire wisk and bring to a simmer stirring constantly so that milk and cheese do not curdle. Once simmering reduce heat to the lowest setting. If the sauce seems to thick use a ladle to add pasta water to the sauce. If it seems to thin add more parmesan cheese. Once fettucini is finished cooking add it to the sauce and stir together so the pasta absorbs some of the sauce. Then it is ready to serve!

yields: 4 servings

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Roasted Tomato Soup

There is nothing more comforting than a yummy tomato soup paired with a grilled cheese sandwich. This aromatic, vegan, roasted soup is incredibly easy to make and full of fresh, locally grown ingredients. Delicious by itself or with a good old fashioned grilled cheese, this soup is perfect for a chilly night.


2-3 tbs olive oil
8 tomatoes cut into fours
1 yellow onion sliced
8 cloves of garlic halved
2-3 tsp of salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1 bullion vegetable cube
1 tbs agave syrup or honey
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place tomatoes, onion, and garlic on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Put into the oven for about 55 minutes.

After vegetables have roasted thoroughly pour them into a large stock pot. Add canned tomatoes, basil, vegetable broth and bullion cube. Use an emersion blender or regular blender to blend all ingredients together. Once all ingredients are blended together bring to boil in the stock pot and add agave syrup and red pepper. Once soup is boiling reduce to simmer on low for about ten minutes until all ingredients have come together. Then it is ready to serve.

yields 6-8 servings

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vegan Gingerbread Cookies with freshly grated Ginger

If you need a great cookie for a holiday party or a cookie to leave for Santa, this is it! These gingerbread cookies are chewy and decadent with freshly grated ginger. I will be making several batches this weekend for holiday parties and I’m sure they will be a hit!

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup sugar plus about a 1/4 of a cup for cookie topping
1 tbs vanilla
1 tbs water
1 tbs freshly grated ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour

In a mixer combine canola oil, molasses, and 1 cup of sugar and mix together for a few minutes until all 3 ingredients have blend together well. Add vanilla, water, freshly grated ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Mix everything together. Keep the mixer on low and add baking soda and flour. Mix everything together until all ingredients have formed a dark colored dough. Roll dough into a ball and wrap tightly in celephane. Place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and spray your cookie sheet with cooking spray. Pour about 1/4 cup of sugar into a bowl to roll cookies in. Take small sections of the dough and roll into balls. Roll the balls of dough in the sugar and place on the cookie sheet once you have all your cookies arranged on a sheet use a spoon to slightly smash down each cookie. Then place in the oven for about 10 minute at 350 degrees. Once they have baked take them out of the oven and leave them on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes or until they have cooled. Then they are ready to serve.

yields about 24 cookies

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spinach and Cheese Enchiladas

I think I got my love for making my own version of food from my mother. Growing up she had four girls to cook for who all wanted something different. Usually one of us didn’t want meat or chicken broth cooked in the dish. Every time she recreated a recipe without meat, it was better than it was before. This is one of my favorite dishes she turned vegetarian. These enchiladas are creamy and delicious. They would be great with homemade refried beans (see previous posts).

2-3 tbs olive oil
1 onion chopped small
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 vegetable bullion cube
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 parmesan cheese
4 oz canned chopped green chili’s
2 oz canned chopped jalapenos
10 tortillas
4 cups monterey jack cheese shredded
2 cups spinach rinsed and stems removed
1 cup red enchilada sauce

To make the sauce:
In a large pan saute onion, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper in olive oil. Saute on medium low for about 8 minutes. Add bullion cube and break it up with a spoon. Saute everything together until bullion cube is dissolved. Sprinkle flour over and stir together until past-like and slowly add one cup of vegetable broth. Stir together well. Add cream cheese and stir together. You may need to use a wire wisk to blend all ingredients. Add another cup of vegetable broth slowly stirring everything together. Then add parmesan cheese, green chili’s and jalapenos and continue to stir until sauce is thick and blended together. Turn off heat and get ready for assembly.

Assembling enchiladas:
You may want to set an assembly station similar to the one in the picture below. Start with sauce to your left followed by tortillas, spinach, cheese and then your baking dish. Before assembly coat the bottom of you baking dish with a thin layer of sauce. Then begin assembly. Dip tortillas in sauce so it is coated on both sides, then arrange about 5-7 leaves of spinach. Top with about 2 tbs of shredded Monterey Jack cheese and roll. Place rolled enchilada into baking dish and continue this process until all tortillas are filled and rolled. Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas and pour red sauce on top of the that. Top the whole dish with remaining Monterey Jack cheese and put in the oven to bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes then remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.

Yields 10 enchiladas

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vegan Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

Lentils are a fabulous source of protein I just love finding new ways to cook with them. The sweet potatoes and parsley I added make a perfect flavor combo with this stew. Not only is it tasty but it super hearty and vegan at that same time. This was a hit!


2 cups yellow or green lentils
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 leaks rinsed and chopped
2 cups celery
2 tsp salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbs dried oregano
2 tbs tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
2 cups sweet potato chopped
2 cups asparagus chopped
5 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf

Before adding Lentils to the soup you need to cook them halfway so they don’t absorb all the liquid in the soup. Rinse lentils thoroughly and remove any stones. Put lentils in a pot with water cover about 2 inches above the lentils and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Once cooked half way drain them put them aside for the soup.

In a large stock pot saute onion, celery, leeks and garlic in olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Continue to saute until veggies have softened. Add tomato paste and parsley, and saute together for another minute. Add vegetable broth and lentils and bring to boil then reduce to simmer for about ten minutes. Then add sweet potatoes and asparagus and let simmer for another 20 to 25 minutes or until vegetables and lentils are softened. Then it is ready to serve.

yields about 6 servings

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Roasted Vegetables with Basil and Chick Peas

Well I have a massive food hangover from last weeks festivities. Now it is time to eat healthy and rid myself of those holiday indulgences. After having salads for the last two days I thought it was time to make something a little more decadent. My sister Melissa had made a yummy roasted vegetable dish at a dinner party once and I thought I would take that idea and make it my own. Once again this is a vegan or vegetarian friendly dish that can be served alone, over pasta or with a grilled veggie patty as I did tonight. I also added chick peas for protein but cannellini beans would be delicious with this as well.


2-3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup red onion chopped
1/2 cup white onion chopped
8 cloves of garlic halved
3 tomatoes chopped
1 cup broccoli chopped
1 cup asparagus chopped
1 cup basil chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
1 can of chick peas or cannellini beans drained and rinsed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop all vegetable to roughly the same size, about 2 inches thick, so they cook evenly. Cut each garlic clove in half. Arrange all the vegetables on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper. Put in the oven for 35 minutes at 400 degrees. After 35 minutes add chick peas or cannellini beans and 1/2 a cup of basil. Put back into the oven for another 10 minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked arrange on a plate with a sprinkle of fresh basil and parmesan cheese if desired.

Yields 4 servings

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vegetarian/Vegan Thanksgiving Stuffing

I have been a vegetarian for many Thanksgivings. I have never cared about eating turkey but I used to really miss eating the stuffing. The stuffing was always cooked inside the turkey or made with chicken broth which was out of the question for me. So a couple years ago I decided to make a vegetarian version and it has been a hit ever since. I now make the stuffing every year. This year I decided to cut out some of the butter and replace it with olive oil. The taste is just as yummy. In making this recipe I used real butter but it can easily be substituted for a Vegan butter as the rest of the ingredients are vegan. Happy thanksgiving!


4 tbs olive oil
1 cup butter or vegan substitute
2 onions chopped (roughly 5 cups)
4 cups celery chopped
1 cup chopped and cleaned leaks
1 tbs pepper
1 1/2 tbs salt to taste
5 tbs poultry seasoning
4 cups vegetable broth
2 loaves of whole wheat bread

The day before you make the stuffing tear the two loaves of bread and spread them out over a cookie sheet or cooling rack if you have one. Let the bread dry out for at least 15 hours. (Hint a bread with less preservatives will dry out better.)

To start the stuffing heat oil and butter in large pot. Add onion, celery and leaks. Sprinkle salt, pepper and poultry seasoning over vegetables saute and simmer on medium low for roughly 20 minutes. It will seem like there is more butter and oil than vegetables but this is necessary to cover two loaves of bread. After vegetable are softened add vegetable broth. Bring the pot to boil and then reduce to simmer for another 10 minutes.

Once mixture is ready pour the vegetables and broth over the bread slowly as some breads may absorb more than others, and mix well together. It may take a few different bowls and batches to accomplish this. Once the stuffing is to a desired texture (some people like it soggy others like it dry, I try to make it somewhere in the middle) pour in a baking dish and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Cover the stuffing with foil for the first 15 minutes of baking. Then it is ready to serve.

yields 12 servings

Holiday Spiced Sangria

This is a fun drink that I love to make this time of year. It is delicious served hot or cold and super easy to make. With wine being full of anitoxidants and oranges packed with vitamin C you can actual feel good about this cocktail as long as you drink in moderation! Cheers!


1 bottle of your favorite red wine
5 cinnamon sticks
1 tbs whole cloves
1 tbs whole allspice
2 oranges

In a pitcher pour in bottle of wine and add cinnamon sticks. Cut the oranges into quarters. Squeeze two of the quarters into the wine and discard. With the remaining orange quarters stick about 5 or 6 cloves in the peel of each one and place into the pitcher. Using a cheese cloth make a sachet for the whole cloves and place into the pitcher as well. Put the pitcher into the refrigerator for at least two hours. When it is ready to serve remove allspice and heat if desired.

yields 4 servings

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pasta with Leeks and Brussels Sprouts

Those poor brussels sprouts get such a bad wrap; I can never figure out why. They are so yummy and versatile. Tonight I combined them with some leeks and pasta and made a delicious elegant dinner. It is completely vegan, but vegetarians can add parmesan cheese, and if you are cooking for any meat eaters this would be perfect with bacon or pancetta.


8 brussels sprouts bottoms cut off and chopped into quarters
2 leeks chopped and rinsed thoroughly
5 green onions chopped
2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp of salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 cup white wine or starchy pasta water
1/2 lbs. of your favorite pasta

Cook your pasta in a salted pot of boiling water until pasta is al dente.

In a large pan saute brussels sprouts, leeks and green onion in olive oil. Add salt, pepper and garlic. Saute on low for about 20 minutes. Add white wine and saute for another 10 minutes. Once veggies are cooked and seasoned well, add pasta into saute pan and stir together well so that pasta absorbs the sauce. then it is ready to serve.

yield 2-4 servings

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fajitas Tacos

I love tacos and I’m always looking for a good way to make veggie or vegan tacos. It dawned on me the other night that fajitas style veggies would be great mixed with pinto beans and put into corn tortillas. And it was. We have an authentic mexican market down the street that makes corn tortillas fresh daily so I was lucky to pick some up and use them with this recipe but you can use any corn tortillas you like.


1-2 tbs canola oil
1/2 of a yellow onion sliced
2 green peppers sliced
3 green onions chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-2 tsp taco seasoning to taste
1 15 oz can of pinto beans
6-8 corn tortillas
1 tbs of cilantro chopped for topping

In a large pan saute yellow and green onion with peppers in canola oil. Add salt and pepper and taco seasoning and cover and let simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. Once onions are translucent and peppers are softened add pinto beans and stir together for another 5 minutes. Pour into corn tortillas and serve with your favorite toppings.

6-8 tacos

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jalapeno and Cheese stuffed Tomatoes

I love doing a tapas night and I usually use those nights to experiment on my husband. Tonight I decided to put my own twist on stuffed tomatoes by adding a little kick of jalapeno. They were delicious and super easy to make. You can use these as an appetizer for holiday parties or just for your own tapas night.


3 tomatoes
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 jalapeno seeded and shopped finely
1 clove of garlic minced
1 pinch of salt to taste
1 tbs of olive oil

Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out the innards. Place them on a greased baking
sheet. In a bowl mix together mascarpone cheese, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs (leaving a little to top), jalapeno and garlic. If it become hard to mix add a small amount of water to help mix the ingredients together. Add a pinch of salt depending on how salty your parmesan cheese. Scoop a spoonful of cheese mixture into each tomato in equal amounts. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Yield 6

Monday, October 31, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes

Here is a yummy way to start you Halloween day. Every once in while it is fun to splurge on a pancake breakfast especially for the holiday’s. These pancakes were a hit with my son and my husband. Hope you and your family enjoy them too! Happy Halloween!


1 cup organic pumpkin puree
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil plus about 2-4 tbs extra for frying pan
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice

Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix well with a wire wisk. Heat your large frying pan to medium low and pour in about 2 tbs vegetable oil. Once oil is hot pour about 1/4 cup of pancake mix in as many circles as you can fit. Let them cook until the top part starts to bubble and look like it is cooking too. (hint if they are not ready they will be hard to flip). I noticed that they cook for about 5-8 minutes before I flipped them. Once they look cooked flip them and cook on the other side for about 3-4 minutes. Then they are ready to serve.

yield about 8 pancakes

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Hazelnut Oatmeal

This is my new favorite breakfast. Oatmeal is always a good breakfast choice because it is high in fiber which helps keep you full until lunchtime. By adding pumpkin and hazelnuts you are benefiting from protein and anitoxidents which will really help you get through the day. Besides that fact that pumpkin and cinnamon are perfect flavors for a cold autumn breakfast.


1 cup of water
1/2 cup of organic quick oats
1 pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup of organic pumpkin puree
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1-2 tbs of honey or agave syrup to taste
2 tbs hazelnuts chopped

In a small pan bring water and salt to boil. Once boiling add oats and pumpkin puree. Reduce to medium and let simmer for about 5 minute stirring occasionally. Add cinnamon and nutmeg after a about 2 minutes of simmering. Just before you take the oatmeal off the burner add honey and 1 tbs of hazelnuts. Stir together then pour into a bowl. Top the oatmeal with the rest of the hazelnuts and it is ready to serve.

yield 1 serving

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Baked Couscous with Cheese and Veggies

This my my twist on baked macaroni and cheese. It is a vegetarian dish but I swapped out macaroni for whole wheat Isreali couscous and added twice as manny veggie as couscous to make it a little on the lighter side. I also left butter out of my recipe. This is a great side dish for a hearty fall or winter meal.


2 cups cooked Isreali whole wheat couscous (follow the instructions on the box)
2 cups asparagus steamed and chopped small
2 cups broccoli steamed and chopped small
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 of one onion chopped small
4 cloves of garlic minced
1-2 tsp of salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 pinch of crushed of red pepper
1/2 cup of coconut milk (or soy milk or regular milk)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese or 3 wedges of laughing cow cheese
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup monterey jack cheese shredded
1 cup of sharp white cheddar shredded
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Cook couscous and steam veggies in separate pans while you make bechamel sauce. In a large pot saute onion and garlic in olive oil on medium for about 8 minutes till onions have softened. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce to low and add milk, nutmeg and mascarpone cheese stirring until cheese and milk have come together then add parmesan, monterey jack cheese and sharp white cheddar leaving a small amount to top the dish. Once sauce has come together stir in cooked couscous and steamed broccoli and asparagus. Stir everything together well and pour into a medium size casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs, remaining cheese and a little drizzle of olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

Yield 6-8 servings

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Black Bean Chili

I just love having a pot of soup or chili sitting on the stove and warming up the house on a cold day. This hearty vegan chili is perfect for the the cold months ahead. It is full of protein and fiber and lots of yummy flavors. My husband recommends adding flank steak for the meat eaters but he thinks it tastes pretty meaty as is.


1-2 tbs olive oil
1 white or yellow onion chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup yellow or orange pepper chopped
2 green onions chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1-2 tsp salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
2 tbs fresh or canned jalapeno chopped
1 tbs tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine
2 cups vegetable broth
1 vegetable bouillon cube
3 15 oz cans black beans
2 15 oz cans refried beans
2 bays leaves

Topping ingredients:
1/2 an avocado per person
1/2 a green onion per person

In a large stock pot saute green and white onion, celery, pepper and garlic in olive oil. Season vegetables with salt, pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper and cumin. Saute for about ten minutes on medium low until vegetables are softened. Add jalapeno and tomato paste and stir together for a minute or two. Pour in red wine to scrape the pot and let simmer for another minute. Add vegetable broth and a bouillon cube for added flavor. Add beans and bay leaves and bring to boil and reduce to simmer for about 30 minutes or longer if you have time. Remove the bay leaves, plate soup, and top with avocado and green onion.

This chili is good refrigerated for up to 3 days and frozen for up to a month.

Yields 8 servings

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Portabella Pizza

This pizza recipe is bread free and a healthy alternative to satisfy any pizza craving. My husband just loved this dinner. The fun thing about making these pizzas at home is that you can put your own twist on it by adding your favorite toppings. I choose onion, peppers and olives for my toppings but feel free to swap those for whatever you prefer on your pizza.

2 large portabella mushrooms cleaned and stems removed
1 cup of marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups of shredded monterey jack cheese or vegan cheese
1 tbs parmesan cheese or vegan parmesan
1 tbs dried oregano
1/4 cup yellow pepper chopped
1/8 cup white onion chopped
1/8 cup kalamata olives chopped

Arrange mushroom caps on a cookie sheet filling both with marinara sauce to desired amount. Top with half of the cheese amount. Add pepper, onion and olive toppings. (This is where you can add you own favorite toppings). Cover toppings with remaining cheese and sprinkle parmesan and oregano on top for extra flavor. Put in the oven at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
Serve on top of your favorite salad.

Yield 2 pizzas

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chayote and White Bean Soup

Chayote is a tropical squash indigenous to Mexico. It’s peak time of year is September through May. Many describe the squash as a vegetable like pear. It is very tasty and works well a variety of dishes. Chayote’s are packed with anti-oxidents and vitamin C making this a perfect dish for the flu season. This soup is hearty and flavorful with three different onions, and white beans to make it creamy. It is a vegan soup but feel free to add parmesan cheese for the vegetarians or chicken for the meat eaters.


3 chayote’s peeled and seeded and chopped in 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 yellow onion chopped
2 leeks chopped and cleaned of sand
3 green onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste about 1 tsp each
1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups of vegetable broth
1/4 cup beer
1 15 oz can cannellini beans
1 bay leaf

In a large stock pot saute chayote’s, yellow onion, leeks and green onion on medium. Add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic. Saute for about ten minutes until the chayote’s break apart easy and onions are translucent. Add beer and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. Once the beer has reduced a little, add beans, broth and bay leaf. Cover and let simmer on medium low for about 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat, remove bay leaf and blend until everything is smooth and creamy. Then it is ready to serve.

Yields 4 servings

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

Today is a cloudy rainy day calling for some fall comfort food. Pumpkin bread came to mind and after several attempts I have finally made up my own delicious pumpkin bread recipe. The bread itself is actually vegan but I love to add the good old fashioned chocolate chips to it which are made from milk. So you can use your own variation here. Cozy up with some spiced pumpkin bread and a hot cup of tea.


1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 cup flour
1 tbs water
1 tbs vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp ground allspice
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Combine all ingredients together in a mixer. If you decide to use chocolate chips add most of them into the batter reserving about a handful to sprinkle on top. Put into two greased loaf pans and bake at 350 for about 55 minutes. Let sit for about ten minutes then serve.

Yields 2 loaves

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mashed Cauliflower and Broccoli with Mushroom Gravy

This is a yummy, healthy vegan twist for the common mashed potatoes with gravy. I didn’t use any butter or butter substitute yet the whole combo tastes buttery and rich and satisfying. You might want to keep this in mind the next time you have mashed potatoes and gravy.


Mashed Cauliflower and Broccoli

4 cups cauliflower
2 cups broccoli
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove

In a large pot boil or steam cauliflower and broccoli until vegetable are softened but still have a little snap. Strain and pour into a food processor. Combine all other ingredients and blend until the vegetables are pureed together.

Mushroom Gravy
1-2 tbs olive oil
2 cups mushrooms
1/2 cup green onion chopped
1/2 yellow onion chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup vegetable broth

In a large saute pan heat olive oil over medium and add mushroom and onions. Add salt and pepper and red pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes before adding garlic. Continue to saute for about 10 minutes on medium. Once vegetables start to stick to the pan slowly add in vegetable broth and scrape the pan stirring everything together. Let simmer on medium low for about 5 more minutes until the broth thickens a little. Serve over mashed cauliflower and broccoli.

Yields about 2-4 servings

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Warm Kale Salad with Roasted Yam and Chick Peas

This is such a hearty fall salad you won’t miss the meat, dairy or flour from your dinner. It is super healthy and full of seasonal veggies from the local farm stand. I added chick peas for protein which complement the vegetables quite well.


1 yam chopped to 1-2 inch cubes
1 onion chopped
1 bunch of kale leaves chopped and rinsed (remove the stem and discard)
1 can chick peas drained and rinsed
3-4 tbs olive oil
3 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp paprika
3 cloves of garlic minced

On a baking sheet arrange chopped yam with 2 tbs olive oil, 2 tsp salt and 2 tsp paprika. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.

In a large skillet heat up 1-2 tbs olive oil over medium heat. Add in chopped onion, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Saute for about 5 minute then add minced garlic and chopped kale. Saute everything together for another 10 minutes. Add chick peas and saute for 3-5 more minutes. Arrange on a plate and top with roasted yam. Then it is ready to serve.

yield 4 servings

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Every couple months a bunch of my dearest girlfriends and I get together for girls night. We all bring appetizers and we sit around noshing and chatting. Last night was our girls night and we had such a great time. I made Bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and basil and brought some sourdough bread from the local bakery. I think it was a hit!

8 roma tomatoes diced to 1/4 inch chunks
1 cup basil chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 shallot chopped very fine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbs olive oil

Chop all ingredients and combine into a bowl. Mix together and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow all ingredients to come together. Then it is ready to serve.

Yield about 4 cups

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Butternut Squash Sauce with Quinoa Pasta

Butternut Squash Sauce with Quinoa Pasta

Tomorrow is the first day of Fall and I thought I would celebrate the changing of the seasons with one my favorite dinners. I went to my local farm stand and picked out a locally grown butternut squash and some sage. Buying locally grown food helps support your local growers and also guarantees fresher produce. With this recipe having a fresh ripe squash makes all the difference in the world. Another fun fact: butternut squash is full of antioxidants which may help you ward off those cold weather sicknesses. So eat up!


1 butternut squash peeled, seeded and chopped in 1 inch cubes
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion chopped to about the same size as the squash
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 fresh sage leaves finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3-4 cups of vegetable broth
2 tbs of butter or vegan butter (earth balance butter)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese or vegan parmesan
1 box of quinoa pasta

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add quinoa pasta. Let boil for roughly ten minutes then drain. This can be done while you are making your sauce.

In a large dutch oven pot, heat olive oil and add onion, butternut squash, salt and pepper. Saute on medium and add nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, sage and garlic. Saute all of this for 10 to 15 minutes, or until butternut squash is softened on the outside and onion is translucent. Add white wine and stir together letting it simmer for another minute. Then add enough vegetable broth to just cover the vegetables. Depending on the size of your butternut squash this can be between 3 and 4 cups. Add the butter and cover and let simmer on medium low for about 10 minutes until butternut squash is easy to cut through. Then blend everything in a blender or use an immersion blender until smooth and creamy. Return the sauce back to the pot and add parmesan cheese and pasta. Stir and let sauce and pasta come together.

Yields about 8 servings

Monday, September 19, 2011

Creamy Broccoli and White Bean Soup (without cream)

In California, we are used to having broccoli and white beans available year round but did you know that the season for this yummy combo is Fall? That’s right September and October are peak season for broccoli and dried beans. This soup is a perfect way to showcase this high fiber delicious duo. It is a vegan soup but because it is pureed, the white beans make the soup “creamy” and decadent. Vegetarians may enjoy parmesan cheese on top and meat eaters chicken (as my husband did).


2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 onion chopped
1 leek rinsed well and chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
5 cups vegetable broth
4 cups chopped broccoli
3 15.5 oz cans of cannelini beans

In a large pot saute onion and leeks in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and add minced garlic. Once vegetables are softened and translucent, add vegetable broth, broccoli, and cannelini beans. Cover and let simmer for around 15 minutes. After, turn off heat and puree soup in batches using a blender. (If you have an immersion blender just blend the soup in the pot.) Once soup is smooth, return to the pot and let simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Yields 6-8 servings

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pumpkin Risotto with Asparagus and Mushroom Caps

Last night my sister and I made dinner together. She made stuffed mushroom caps and I made pumpkin risotto with asparagus. We were inspired by the feeling of fall coming around the corner. We love the vegetables that September has to offer as well as the warm spices and fresh herbs. The mushroom caps are vegetarian and the pumpkin risotto can be made vegan by leaving out the parmesan cheese and adding a pinch more of salt for the flavor the parmesan may have given.

Pumpkin Risotto

1 pound box of arborio rice/risotto
1 onion chopped small
1 tbs olive oil
6 sage leaves fresh
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups heated vegetable broth
1 15 oz. can of organic pumpkin
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 small bunch of asparagus

In a large pot saute onion in olive oil, add salt and pepper and allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon spices. Saute until golden. Add risotto and sage leaves and stir until risotto is coated. Add white wine and stir until wine has dissolved. Add one cup at a time of vegetable broth allowing plenty of time for each cup to me completely absorbed, This may take around 30 minutes. Once Risotto has absorbed all the liquid stir in pumpkin and parmesan cheese. Then it is ready to serve.

Steam asparagus in a small pot for about 5 -7 minutes and serve on the side of finished risotto.

Yield 6 servings

Mushroom Caps by Melissa

12-14 button mushrooms rinsed and stems removed
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/8 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/8 cup shredded Dubliner sharp cheddar cheese
7 Basil leaves chopped finely
1 tsp pepper

In a mixing bowl add panko bread crumbs, cheeses, basil and pepper. Mix together well and fill each mushroom cap with a small spoonful. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Yield 12-14 mushroom caps

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cheesy Pesto and Tomato Quinoa

My husband loves when I make pesto. We eat pesto with all kinds of dishes especially pasta. Tonight I wanted something a little lighter than pasta so I swapped it for quinoa and it was a hit. This is a vegetarian dish but if you are feeding meat eaters you can add chicken.


1 cup Quinoa
2 cup vegetable broth or water
1 cup of monterey jack cheese diced to half inch squares
1 1/2 cup tomato diced to half inch squares
1 cup Pesto

Pesto Ingredients

4 cups of basil leaves
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbs parmesan cheese
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbs honey or agave syrup

Bring vegetable broth or water to boil and add quinoa. Cover and let simmer on medium for about 12 minutes. Once finished let sit for about 5 minutes covered.

In a food processor add all Pesto ingredients and blend together until all ingredients have come together well.

After quinoa has sat covered for 5 minutes pour into a bowl and add monterey jack cheese. Stir in well so that cheese begins to melt. Add tomatoes and Pesto stir together and serve.

Yield 4 servings

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes

This week was crazy to say the least. With the San Diego black out and my son’s first birthday I didn’t have a lot of time to cook. But I thought I would share the recipe for the cupcakes I made for my son’s birthday party. The cakes themselves are vegan but the frosting is not. You can take these recipes and do what you want. I do have to say that I’ve found that cakes without eggs are much more moist.

Cupcakes Ingredients

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tbs vanilla

Mix all ingredient together with a mixer until batter is smooth. Pour into cupcake tins and bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes.

Frosting ingredients

2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup milk
1 tbs vanilla
1 tbs cornstarch

Mix all ingredients together in a mixer until smooth. Add more milk if you would like it thinner and add more cornstarch if you would like the frosting to be thicker.

Yield 12 cupcakes

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Homemade Hummus

Everyone loves a good creamy hummus to dip some warm pita in, or to eat with a cold greek salad. There are thousands of ways this versatile side can be prepared and eaten. Because it is made with protein rich garbanzo beans, it is also a great choice for anyone needing a little extra protein in their diet. This particular recipe calls for hot sauce and paprika but those ingredients can be substituted for almost anything such as basil or roasted peppers, or you can just enjoy it plain.

Hummus Ingredients:
1 can garbanzo beans
1/4 cup tahini paste
1 clove of garlic
1/2 a lemon squeezed
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
15-20 dashes of your favorite hot sauce such as Tapatio
1/4 cup water

To top the hummus:
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp paprika

Combined all hummus ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until it is creamy texture. Pour into a bowl. Top the hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika.

About 2 1/2 cups

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Edible Finger Paint

Besides cooking I love planning parties with my son and his little friends. The other day my sister and I were throwing around ideas for the next play-date and she suggested edible finger paint, genius! She googled several recipes for me. Being the cook that I am, I decided to take those recipes and make my own version that couldn’t be any simpler. Here it is:

2 cups cornstarch
6 cups hot water
food coloring

Bring water to almost a simmer. It needs to be pretty warm to dissolve well into the cornstarch but not boiling. Pour cornstarch into a bowl. Once water is hot pour over corn starch in about three separate batches, stirring well before adding more water. Once the water and cornstarch have come together divide into bowls and mix in your favorite colors. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before the little ones put their hands in it.(You may want to check the temperature of the paint yourself.)

Clean up: Food paint cleans up pretty well off the cement because it peels. Food coloring does stain but combined with cornstarch the staining is minimal. The sooner you rinse off after your project the better your chances are of staying stain-free. Be careful with the blue, it is a little harder to rinse out. We found that the blue came off eventually but it took a couple washes. Have fun!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Coconut Lime Coleslaw

Another Labor day favorite is good old fashioned coleslaw with mayo. I thought I would try my own twist on the classic by trying to cut out the dairy and refined sugar. This coleslaw tastes great as a side with burgers or you can use it to top veggie or fish tacos. Enjoy!

2 tbs. raw coconut nectar made from coconut tree sap (I like the brand Coconut Secret)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 lime
1/2 head of cabbage shredded
3 green onions chopped

Cut or shred half a head of cabbage into narrow short strips. Place into a bowl and add chopped green onion. In another bowl add coconut nectar, coconut milk, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Using a wire wisk mix dressing well and pour over cabbage. Squeeze one lime over coleslaw and mix all ingredients together. Pop into the fridge for at least an hour to allow all the dressing to soak throw the cabbage. Once ready take out and serve.

Yield 6-8 servings

Monday, August 29, 2011

Black Bean Burger Patties

Labor day is this weekend which always seems like the end of the summer to me. I’ve decided to dedicate this week to summer bar-b-que favorites turned veggie. Here are my yummy vegan (or vegetarian) black bean burgers. Chalk full of protein and flavor these burgers can be served bun-less with sauteed onion or put on a whole wheat bun with a big glob of guacamole. The ways to eat these burgers are endless.

2 15 oz. cans of organic black beans
1/2 green bell pepper
2 green onions
1 handful of cilantro
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tbs. ground flaxseed dissolved into 3 tbs of hot water
1/4 cup grated vegan cheese or real cheese (this can be left out if you don't want to use cheese or cheese substitute)

Drain and rinse the cans of black beans and pour into a bowl. Mash the beans down leaving some of the beans whole. In a food processor chop pepper, onions, and cilantro to a very fine chop. Add to beans and mix in cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt and pepper. Mix together well. Add dissolved flaxseed and cheese and combine all ingredients together. Separate the bean mixture into 6 sections. Ball up each section into a patty and arrange on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes and then flip each patty, cooking the for another 10-12 minutes. Pull out and let sit for about 2-5 minutes, then they are ready to serve.

Yield 6 medium size patties

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cold Greek Pasta with Corn Noodles

Nowadays there are several choices for healthier pastas. I like to use corn pasta whenever I can. Corn is a resistant starch which means it travels all the way through your small intestine before being absorbed. Because of this it almost acts like a fiber. Corn pasta is also vegan and gluten free. I made this recipe vegan but vegetarians can add feta cheese and meat eaters can ham, although I don’t think you will want to, this pasta is so yummy!

2 cups cooked pasta
2 tomatoes chopped
1/4 cup red onion chopped
1 cup cucumber chopped
1/2 kalamata olives chopped
1/4 cup pepperoncini
1/2 rinsed organic garbanzo beans

2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. white wine vinegar
2 tbs. honey or agave syrup
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil and add about 2 cups pasta and cook for 7-8 minutes. Drain and add to salad bowl. Add all chopped vegetable and garbanzo beans. In another small bowl mix olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour about 3/4 of the dressing over pasta and chill for at least an hour. Use remaining dressing to top individual bowls to taste.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

Tonight was sandwich night and to make it extra special I made sweet potato fries. This side dish is always a hit with my little family. It is super easy and only takes a few ingredients. By making fries yourself you can bake them and use a smaller amount of oil then used in restaurant fries, making this far more healthful.

3 sweet potatoes (use about 1 sweet potato per person)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbs sea salt
1 tbs paprika

Slice the sweet potatoes to about 1/2 inch thick wedges and arrange on a non-stick baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, salt and paprika over the fries liberally. Put them in the oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes use tongs to turn over each fry. Put them back in the oven for another 15 minutes. Take them out and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. I like to mix 3 parts ketchup to 1 part mustard for an easy dipping sauce. Add a few dashes of hot sauce for some kick!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vegan Banana Bread with Macadamia Nuts

This is one of my favorite indulgences. I made this particular loaf vegan by substituting one egg for 1 tbs ground flaxseed dissolved into 3 tbs hot water. This can be done in almost any baking recipe to make it vegan. I also used vegan butter and whole wheat flour to make it a little more healthful.

3 ripened bananas
1/2 cup vegan butter melted (Earth Balance makes a great vegan butter)
1 cup sugar
1 tbs ground flaxseed dissolved into 3 tbs of hot water
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/4 cup macadamia nut chopped

In a mixer combine bananas, butter, sugar and flaxseed and mix together. Then add vanilla, baking soda, salt and flour. Mix together until all ingredients have married together. Add most of the chopped macadamia nuts (saving a little for topping the bread). Mix together and pour into a greased pan. Sprinkle remaining macadamia nuts on top and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quinoa and Chili stuffed Bell Peppers

Quinoa and Chili stuffed Bell Peppers

Quinoa is a protein rich seed that is indigenous to South America. It looks and tastes similar to couscous but is better for you. Quinoa works great in these stuffed bell peppers. This recipe can be vegan or vegetarian. If you have a hard time with spice the jalapeno can be substituted for finely chopped bell pepper.

1 cup cooked quinoa (directions below)
1 14.5 oz can of your favorite chili (I use ‘Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Organic Chili’)
4 bell peppers cut in half and seeded (use any color)
2 tbs. canola oil
1 onion chopped small
1/2 small jalapeno chopped small
1 clove of garlic minced
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbs. cumin
1 cup of shredded cheese or shredded vegan cheese such as ‘Veggie Shreds’
1/4 cup water

To cook the quinoa pour 2 cups of vegetable broth and 1 cup dried quinoa into a pot and bring to boil. Reduce, cover and let simmer on low for about 15 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Heat a separate pan to medium and pour in canola oil. Add onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Season them with salt and pepper and cumin. Saute for about 10 minutes. Add cilantro (reserve some cilantro for after the peppers are cooked) and saute for another 5 minutes or until the onions are softened and translucent. Add one 14.5 oz can of chili and 1 cup of cooked quinoa. Mix and let all ingredients come together for a couple minutes.

Heat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with non stick cooking spray. Fill each bell pepper half with the chili and quinoa mixture. Top each bell pepper with cheese and cook for 10 minutes. After ten minutes pour about 1/4 cup of water (or white wine) into pan and let peppers cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve on a bed of shredded cabbage and cilantro and top with avocado.

yield: 8 bell pepper halves

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vegetable Detox Soup

Vegetable Detox Soup

I swear by this soups detox qualities. After a vacation or weekend of binge eating your body needs to be cleansed of all the toxins. I love to eat this soup to get me back on track. Sometimes I even eat it for lunch and dinner a couple days in a row. This soup is completely vegan. My husband likes to add a can of rinsed white cannellini beans to the soup for added protein. Once again this another recipe that shredded chicken can be added to for you meat eaters out there!


2 cups celery chopped
2 cups onion chopped
1 cup carrots chopped
3 tbs olive oil
4 cloves of garlic minced
3 tsp sea salt
3 tsp pepper
2 tsp ground sage
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbs fresh rosemary chopped
4 cups of cabbage chopped
2 cups of broccoli chopped
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 box of vegetable broth
2 cups of water
1 14.5 oz can of diced organic tomatoes
2 bay leaves

In a large stock pot saute olive oil celery, onion, carrots and garlic on medium. Add sea salt and pepper, ground sage, dried oregano and rosemary. Let all ingredients saute together for about ten minutes until vegetables are softened and onion is translucent. Add bouillon cube, vegetable broth, water and canned tomatoes. Stir together and add broccoli and cabbage. Bring to simmer and add bay leaves. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes. Remove bay leaves and it’s ready to serve.

Top this soup with half an avocado diced and you will benefit from some extra protein and an even yummier taste!

Yield 8-10 servings

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Homemade refried beans

This is one my favorites. Beans are a great source of protein and fiber for veggie eaters and meat eaters. By making your own you can control the lard and other fats added.

1 lb. bag of dried pinto beans
1 large white or yellow onion pealed and chopped in half
4-5 cloves of garlic pealed and left whole
4 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Beans themselves do not cause gas, it is the dirt on the beans that cause gas. For this reason I recommend boiling the beans in water for roughly 30 minutes, strain and clean the pot and then start the recipe.

In a large stock pot pour in the clean beans. Add halved onion, whole garlic cloves and salt. Fill pot with water so that the water comes to a half an inch above the ingredients. Bring to boil and cover. Let simmer on medium low for two hours.

Once beans are cooked, use a measuring cup to take about a cup of the water from pot and keep aside for blending beans. In batches blend the cooked beans, onion and garlic till entire batch is smooth and creamy. If beans get too thick use the water taken from the pot to loosen the beans. Return all the beans back to the pot add cumin and cayenne pepper or taco seasoning and let all ingredients cook together on low for ten more minutes. Then serve.

Yield about 12 servings

Beans can be frozen for up to three months and refrigerated for up to a week.

Add sour cream, taco seasoning, cheese, tomato and green onion on top to make yummy bean dip.