Wednesday, December 4, 2019

layer by layer, row by row

Are you looking for something special for a young person in your life? Now is the perfect time to own a copy of this little gem of a book (written by yours truly). The winter months are not down times for gardeners - we plan and dream and imagine our perfectly laid out rows and rows - harvesting colorful veg and feasting on the bounty of our labor. 

As you can see, the focus of "Layer by Layer, Row by Row"  is to get young people interested in gardening. The method presented was developed by my friend Pat Lanza, based on her book "Lasagna Gardening."  My father-in-law and I decided to pare down Pat's method and together he and I created this charming book about a simple and effective way to garden. Perfect for kids of all ages, really!

You may purchase the book directly from Amazon or you may contact me at to purchase directly from me. ($12.00 covers the cost of the book, P&H)

Thanks so much and happy gardening! 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Chiles Rellenos

When the Hatch chiles came to town this summer, I really loaded up! I've got bags full in my freezer, and that's a good thing. I have used them in egg dishes, quesadillas, and refried beans. Lurking in the back of my 'recipe' mind, is a vegan white chili with a bunch of them. (I'm thinking white beans, potatoes, roasted corn, vegetable broth thickened with some cashew cream, and lots of chiles. I'll let you know!)

Hatch chiles come from a certain part of New Mexico and are available at only certain times of the year. They are not poblano and they are not anaheim; the medium ones are really not that spicy. And they are the perfect and classic pepper to use for a chile relleno.

My son and I were a little obsessed about our precious chiles when we got them in the house and we just had to try the rellenos! I'm not a great lover of fried food, but for these authentic rellenos, every splatter of grease and every calorie was worth it!

Here's what you need:
(I don't really have quantities. This was truly a free-form cooking event. I had a lot of help and encouragement from other bloggers and internet 'friends.')

Hatch chiles (roasted and peeled, seeds removed). I am sure other Mexican chiles would be good here as well.
Monterrey Jack cheese cut in strips
4 eggs separated
4-5 fresh tomatoes, cored
2 garlic cloves
nutritional yeast (optional)
other seasonings

Here's what you do:
Boil the tomatoes with the skins on in enough water to cover for a while. Whirl them in a blender with the boiling water and with the garlic cloves, 2-3 T nutritional yeast (optional), and other spices to taste. Keep it a bit simple because you want the chiles to be the star of the show. Heat 2-3 T corn oil and add 2-3 T flour to create a roux. Add the tomato sauce and cook for about 1/2 hour or until the sauce is thickened. Set aside.

Slit the chiles lengthwise and remove seeds. Stuff them with cheese. Set aside.

Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until fluffy. Also whisk the yolks until creamy and light yellow. Add 2-3 T flour to the yolks. Carefully incorporate the whites into the yolks. Dip the stuffed chiles in the egg batter and fry carefully in hot oil.

That's it! It's really not too difficult! The hardest part is locating the Hatch chiles!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Creamy Spinach and Cauliflower Stuffed Shells

Pasta shells can be stuffed with just about anything. A lentil meat crumble and tomato sauce would be good. Mushrooms and chestnuts sauteed and ground up would be great. Minced veg and mashed potatoes would even be good - kinda like a pirogi. A few years ago I created an excellent shell stuffed with cheese and artichokes and smothered in a lemon sauce. So good!  (See my Lemon Artichoke Stuffed Shell recipe HERE)

NOTE: This is a double batch!

Today I made this ridiculous amount of shells stuffed with spinach and cauliflower, bound together with a thick creamy cashew sauce. Healthy and light and very nice on a blustery November evening.

Here's what you need:
1 box jumbo pasta shells
2 x 12 oz bags frozen cauliflower - defrosted
3-4 oz fresh spinach (3 big handfuls)
1 t miso paste
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 C non-dairy milk
2 T cornstarch
1/2 C raw cashews
1 C water
32 oz marinara sauce
salt, pepper, dried basil

Here's what you do:
Start by chopping the onions and garlic. Saute the onions in a small bit of oil until soft and translucent. Add the garlic toward the end, being sure not to brown the garlic. Add the miso and incorporate it well. Set aside.

Working in small batches, process the cauliflower, spinach, and sauteed veg in a food processor. Season with salt, pepper, dried basil. Mix well and set aside.

Whirl the cashews and water in a high speed blender to create a cream. Thicken the cream over low heat. Whisk the corn starch into the milk and add it to the cashew cream. Whisk constantly until quite thick. Add this cream mixture into the spinach-cauliflower mixture. Season appropriately.

Cook the shells until just al dente and fill them with the lovely mixture. Place the shells in a 9x13 and bake until bubbly.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Bulgur Taco Meat

Don't panic when vegans come to visit! Serve them this foolproof bulgur taco meat and everyone will be satisfied!

1 C bulgur
1 package taco seasoning
1 can Rotel brand tomatoes
1 1/2 C water

Cook bulgur according to package or until all the liquid has absorbed. This stuff is really good!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Pea Puree

A  lot has been going on in my life these past few months. Most exciting is my retirement from a career in the middle school classroom. I am proud to say I taught 7-8 graders American History, World Geography, and Language Arts for over 2 decades. Phew - I was ready for a change. 

Another exciting announcement is that I wrote a book! It's a children's gardening book. I promise that I'll tell more about that in upcoming blog posts. If you are curious about the book, check it out on Amazon. "Layer by Layer, Row by Row" by David Wood and Tracy Wood. 

The best event and biggest change in my life is that my son got married to the loveliest girl! She is gluten-free, and that has been a new cooking adventure for me! Love it!

Through all the months, I have been cooking. I still love to be in the kitchen. This gourmet ravioli was what I made the very first day of my retirement! True!

Even though my pasta technique is terrible, I never shy away from making it at home. I used to use lots and lots of eggs, but recently, my favorite recipe swaps out eggs for silken tofu - weird, right? But it works amazingly well. You can find my recipe for tofu pasta HERE.  Today I used regular flour in place of the semolina flour and as you can see, the pasta is smooth and silky and strong and it tasted great! I rolled this pasta to the penultimate thickness ($5.00 word). That's 6 on my particular machine.

Just deal with the odd shapes and random pieces of pasta, like I do. 

I boil the odd leftover pieces and saute them in butter and garlic for an afternoon treat. (Amazing! Almost better than the prepared ravioli, strangely)
(Seems like a lot of work....and it is! Save this recipe for when you are in the mood to wash dishes.....)

Here's what you need:

1 small butternut squash
1/2 C walnuts
7 cloves garlic, divided
10 oz frozen peas
1/4 C fresh herbs (chives, basil, parsley)
butter, salt, pepper, olive oil, hot pepper flakes
dollop sour cream

Here's what you do:

Peel and cube the squash. Drizzle olive oil over the cubes and place on baking sheet. Also add 5 cloves of garlic, skins on. Roast until veg is soft. Place squash and walnuts in food processor and add the garlic by squeezing it out of its skin. It will be so amazingly fragrant and delicately flavored! Season with salt and pepper. Blend until desired consistency.

Make the ravioli. Have fun! It's a mess but really fun to do from scratch!

Place frozen peas, herbs, 2 cloves raw garlic, and a few hot pepper flakes
in a pan and saute in a drop of oil until garlic is fragrant. Place peas in food processor and add a dollop of sour cream. Serve the green goodness with the ravioli for a delicious and colorful meal!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Red Curry Ramen

This is a three napkin, dribble on the blouse meal..... and oh so worth it!

Here's what you need:
red pepper
red onion
shiitake mushroom (remove the stem)
lots of garlic
lots of fresh ginger
red curry paste (at least 2 T)
1 T brown sugar
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 C (or more) vegetable broth
tofu (firm or extra firm)
ramen noodles

garnish with cilantro, soy sauce, sriracha

Here's what you do:
Slice the veg and saute in a bit of corn oil until soft. Cube the tofu and add it to the veg. Finish by adding the sugar, milk and broth. Mix in the prepared ramen noodles. Simple and delicious.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Summer Orzo Salad

Don't forget about orzo! It's perfect for this light summer salad. (I ate almost the entire thing....) Dress this very lightly - there are plenty of flavors to carry the pasta.

Here's what you need:
1 lb orzo prepared according to package
6 oz feta cheese minced
1/2 C red onion minced
handful fresh spinach chopped small
1/2 lb fresh green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces and boiled until fork tender
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 C Parmesan cheese

For the dressing whisk together the following:
1/4 C olive oil
1 T lemon juice
1 T red wine vinegar
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t dijon mustard
1/2 t honey

Friday, July 12, 2019

Double Strawberry Muffins

One thing I like to do is to transform old favorite recipes into something new and vegan. That's exactly what I did here. I took a perfect blueberry muffin recipe and made some logical swaps and created an excellent strawberry muffin. I call it 'double strawberry' because some strawberries were fresh and others were dehydrated.  The dehydrated fruit really gave the muffins a hit of flavor!  These would be delicious served with softened cream cheese. 

 Dehydrate them long enough that they're past the chewy stage, but not so long that they fall apart.  Hard for me to say how many berries or how long to dehydrate - just aim for having 1 heaping cup chopped berries for this recipe.

Here's what you need:
6 T non-dairy butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 ripe banana
2 C flour
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
1/2 C non-dairy milk
1 C chopped strawberries, some fresh, some dehydrated (measure after chopping and dehydrating)
chopped walnuts for garnish

Here's what you do:
Cream butter and sugar. Add banana. Mix in milk. Gently add in the flour, salt, baking powder being careful not to over mix. Gently fold in the strawberries. Spray the muffin papers well and fill them about 7/8 full. Garnish with chopped walnuts.

Bake immediately in a 375 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool before removing them from the tin. Delicious!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Pineapple Rice

Either you like or dislike using pineapple in your savory dishes. Wouldn't you agree? I used to LOVE ham and pineapple pizza, but I'm not eating ham these days. Other than that, I rarely use pineapple in anything other than a smoothie or a fruit salad. Recently, though, I saw a recipe for a pineapple rice and I decided to give it a try, with a few changes and additions. Much to my surprise, everyone at the dinner table ate it heartily! Especially me! My guys drizzled hot sauce over it. We decided it was good cold, room temperature, or heated up -- that's versatile! And see how pretty it turned out with all the yellow colors. I served mine with a simple baked tofu. You can find that recipe here on the blog.

Here's what you need:
4 C cooked rice
1 fresh pineapple, cut in big chunks
1 small orange pepper, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 small red pepper, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 C red onion, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
6 green onions, white and green parts, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 C frozen corn
1 t salt, or to taste
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t dried coriander
1/4 - 1/2 t cayenne pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T tomato paste
1/2 C water for sauteing
1 C roasted, salted whole cashews

Here's what you do:
Saute the peppers, onions, corn, seasonings, tomato paste, garlic in the water until soft. Add sauteed veg to pineapple and rice. Mix well. Garnish with cashews. It's as easy as that!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Basic Baked Tofu

Super easy and nutritious and perfect for a quick weeknight meal. There is no long marinating time needed for this method. This tofu is great served as is, or chilled and tossed in a salad the next day. It would be great in a sandwich also.

It's more about the method than the ingredients. Of course you can cut the recipe in half or double it for a larger crowd. 2 pounds works well for 4 servings.

2 pounds firm tofu, cut into quarters the long way.
1/2 C soy sauce
zest and juice from one big lemon
1/4 corn oil

Make the slash marks on the tofu, cutting rather deep so the juice gets down in there.
Mix the marinade and spoon over the tofu, allowing it to drip down in the slices.

Bake in a shallow baking dish at 400 degrees for at least 45 minutes, checking every so often and spooning more marinade in the cracks. I actually transferred the tofu onto a parchment lined baking sheet when the soy mixture started to evaporate - I did not want my tofu to burn.

It's nice and chewy - and surprisingly not too lemony!