Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lemon Almond Pesto

This is one of the most unusual and delicious pestos I have ever made. It is loosely based on something I saw in a magazine, originally from the Sunkist Lemon website, but I perfected it. May I brag? I served it over pasta, but it would be outstanding with chicken, vegetables and fish. Drizzle over one of my pizzas for total satisfaction. There just aren’t enough days to eat all the delicious food out there, am I right?

(I used my Vitamix Blender and the pesto was totally creamy and smooth. I do believe a Cuisinart would do the same. )

Here’s what you need:
1 fresh lemon
½ shallot
1 clove garlic, peeled
¼ C raw almonds, toasted
½ t sweet smoked paprika
1 t sweet paprika
1 T cider vinegar
1 T rice wine vinegar (or other, similarly flavored vinegars)
½ C olive oil
¼ C water (to thin the pesto)
½ - 1 C hot pasta water to thin the pesto

Here’s what you do:
With a sharp knife, peel and seed the lemon, being careful not to lose any of the juice. Remove the sections and seeds while holding the lemon over a bowl. Place the lemon sections and all their juice, shallot and garlic in a food processor or high powdered blender and whirl until almost smooth. Add the almonds, smoked paprika, sweet paprika and vinegars and whirl until nuts are very smooth. While the motor is running, drizzle in the olive oil very slowly.  Add the water and thin to desired consistency.

Collect about a cup of water from your boiling pasta and set it aside. Add as much as you want to make your pesto creamy and thick. I ended up adding about ¾ C.

Serve this with roasted vegetables or a tossed salad. Shaved parmesan would be excellent over this.

(printable recipe)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vegetable Lasagna with Basil Cashew Cheese

I give this recipe all the best superlatives. It originally comes from  Oh She Glows blog , which is loaded with excellent food and photos. I tweaked it a bit by adding hot pepper flakes. Killer. !! I am going to put this outstanding Basil Cheese on a pizza soon….. dreaming and drooling. Double Killer!! 

Here’s what you need:
Olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 onion, diced
2 zucchini, cubed
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large handful spinach
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1 ½ jars marinara sauce
1 box oven ready lasagna noodles (no boil type of noodle…. I love Barilla brand)
1 recipe Basil Cashew Cheese (see below)
1 ½ C non-dairy cheese (Daiya Shreds or Go Veggie Cheese)

Here’s what you need for the Basil Cashew Cheese:
1 c raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
¼ C vegetable broth or water (or more as needed)
¼ C lemon juice
½ C nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper
1 T Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves
1 ½ C fresh basil, loosely packed

Here’s what you do:
Soak the cashews in water for at least 30 minutes. Drain them. Place all the ingredients for the Lemon Basil Cheese in a high powered blender (like a Vitamix) and watch what happens! Amazing! I had to add a bit of water to help it along. Set aside.

Saute the onions in a bit of oil until soft but not brown. Add the garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, red pepper and red pepper flakes. Saute the huge amount of veggies till nice and tender. Be sure to season them liberally with salt and pepper. When they are ready, add a big handful of fresh spinach and cook for about 5 more minutes.

I split my lasagna into two pans: one for dinner and one for the freezer. 

To assemble the lasagna: Pour about ½ C sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Layer uncooked noodles over sauce. Spread basil cashew cheese over the noodles. Spoon ½ of veggie mixture over noodles. Pour more sauce over veggies. Repeat, being sure to end with sauce. Make sure the sauce is tucked down in and around the noodles.  End with a layer of non-dairy cheese. I used Go Veggie brand and it was super.

Cover with foil, make a few vents in the foil with a sharp knife, bake for 40-45 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Remove foil and broil for a few minutes, watching carefully. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before slicing.

(printable recipe) 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Vegetable Bake with Crispy Topping

You may recall that I made it through MoFo2012…...that’s Vegan Month of Food, for those of you ‘not-in-the-know.’ I powdered through 30 days of complete vegan foods and only cheated a few times…mostly because of my love affair with feta cheese. There is not a Greek salad on earth that stands a chance with me in the room.

I also am happy to say that I followed the MoFo (that’s ‘Month of Food’) rule to post 20 times during the month. Let me tell you, it was difficult! I work two part-time jobs, still have a kid at home, have a husband who works a demanding job and also travels….meaning, I have a LIFE! But I did it! You can read all about my vegan journey by clicking over on the October 2012 link in the right hand margin. The recipes there are excellent, plus I share what it was like to ‘go vegan’ from a carnivore’s point of view.

Have I become a vegan? Well, probably not. But I have become super aware of the food on my plate. I just wondered what it would feel like to get the beef off of my buns, so to speak. Plus, my cholesterol is sky high……I am at the point of doing whatever it takes (besides meds… I refuse at this point…. I am probably labeled “uncooperative” in the file at my doctor…. Sigh…. )

Let me stop rambling about cholesterol and share a very interesting recipe I found during my MoFo (that’s ‘Month of Food’) experience. See here for the original recipe.

Here’s what you need:
4 C cooked vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, frozen peas)
1 C soy milk
6 T Nutritional yeast (found in health food stores. Gives food a cheesy flavor)
1 T Earth Balance non-dairy butter
1 ½ T cornstarch
2 t Dijon mustard
¼ t garlic powder
½ t salt
½ C mashed chick peas
½ C oats
1 t dried herbs (like basil, oregano)
2 T Nutritional yeast
2 T crushed walnuts

Here’s what you do:
Steam the veggies till tender. Set aside. To make the sauce: melt the butter. Whisk in the milk, 6 T nutritional yeast, cornstarch, Dijon, garlic powder and salt. Stir till thick and pour over veg.
To make the crumbly topping: Mix the chick peas, oats, herbs, 2 T nutritional yeast and nuts. Sprinkle over vegetables. Bake at 350 until brown, maybe 20-30 minutes. Broil for just a minute if you want a crispier top.

(printable recipe)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Porcini Barley Soup

Dear Readers, You might be interested to click back to my last post and share a meatless meal in my link up.   Let's share some tasty meal ideas for Meatless Mondays. 

This recipe comes from The Cooking Channel website. You can check it out here, but I think you would be better just to follow my directions…..not that I’m such a great cook, but the directions and method are filled with mistakes over there! Like, they never actually put the porcini mushrooms in the soup! Also, they recommend ¼  C butter and 6 Tablespoons of oil….yuck. Way too much.  So read on, dear follower, and prepare to experience a culinary delight.

(ps – a dollop of sour cream on this soup when you serve it would be great....Also, maybe a sprinkle or two of dill….maybe a squeeze or two of lemon juice to brighten the flavors right at the end…. )

Here’s what you need:
1 C (1 ounce) dried porcini mushrooms
1 T olive oil
3 small shallots, minced
1 medium onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ - 1 t dried thyme
½ C white wine
2 quarts vegetable broth  (Use the best quality. You may also use beef or chicken broth here)
½ C pearl barley
Salt and pepper
¾ pound potatoes, peeled and diced

Here’s what you do:
Soak the dried mushrooms in 2 C boiling water for 1 hour.  When they are soft, cut them in small pieces.  Reserve the liquid for the soup.

Sauté the onions, shallots, garlic and thyme in the olive oil until soft but not brown. Add the wine, broth, barley, mushrooms and the entire 2 Cups of mushroom infused water. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour.

Add the cubed potatoes and cook for another 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

(printable recipe)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Meatless Monday Link Up - White Pizza with Zucchini

Be sure to link up your favorite meatless meal! 
I'd love if you shared this post with other like-minded food lovers! 

Well, Christmas decorations are finally all down and put away for another year. I do keep the lights up in the front yard during the dark months though– so cheery and romantic to come home to a brightly lit front door. Every time we pull in the driveway I say, “Honey, look how pretty our house looks!” I never get tired of coming home. sigh. 

Hopefully Santa and the elves were good to you? I was fortunate to see lots of family over the holidays, my kids, my sister and her family, and even my parents from far away Florida. (Hi Mom and Dad!) We ate. We opened gifts. We sang carols around the piano. We ate some more. We laughed. And we played games….. and by ‘played games’  I mean marathon hours of Yahtzee, Dominoes, and Farkel.

My mom is trying to tell me an interesting story, but you can see I just want to play  more games. 

I got a professional knife sharpener and have already cut my fingers twice. Typical me.  I also received a lovely scarf and some books (“Chronicles of Downton Abbey” being a favorite.) My daughter gave me two copies of “Chickpea Magazine” and I must say it is a beautiful publication! This pizza comes from the Summer 2012 edition of the magazine.

Here’s what you need:
Your favorite pizza dough 
2 medium zucchini – one green, one yellow
16 oz tofu
Salt, pepper
3 T toasted pine nuts
¼ + 2 T Tofutti Cream Cheese
2-3 T olive oil

Here’s what you do:
Slice your veg super thin. Set aside. Make the cheese by blending the tofu, seasonings, pine nuts and cream cheese in a blender or food processor. Drizzle in the olive oil till smooth and beautiful. Spread the white cheese over the pizza dough in a very thin layer. Keep it thin or your dough will be soggy. I think there is plenty for three or four pizzas. Place the zucchinis in a pretty pattern over the white cheese and bake! You could sprinkle salt and pepper and herbs over the zucchini too. (450 degrees for 10 minutes….it really depends on how thick your pizza dough is.We like ours very, very thin.) EXCELLENT! 

(printable recipe)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Maple Syrup Roasted Tomatoes

Check out this beautiful meal I made my family over the holidays. I am pretty proud of these, I must admit. Four different vegan pizzas, all completely delicious. Try one today and fall in love with some new flavor combinations. I used this recipe for two of the pizzas. This is my favorite pizza dough recipe. (If you are interested in the pizza dough recipe, then you must know that there is a typo in the recipe.... leave a comment  here and I can clarify....other than the glaring error,  it's a perfect dough recipe! )  I'll share the recipe for the other two pizzas next Monday, so stay tuned! 

You could serve these lusciously sweet tomatoes over pasta, in salads and burritos, on garlic toast, with rice or just as a side dish to whatever else is on your plate.... they are EXCELLENT! (this recipe comes from Pam's Midwest Kitchen....thanks Pam!! ) 

Here’s what you need:
Grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 T maple syrup (no cheating …use the real stuff)
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, pepper, thyme

Here’s what you do:
Mix everything well in a bowl and pour out onto a foil lined baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes or longer  in a 400 degree oven. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Roasted Tomato Soup – Comfort on a dreary day

I live in a dark and dreary state…. well, at least during much of winter months. I guess I wouldn’t mind it so much if there was snow, but lately, we don’t even get much of that….just those dark, heavy clouds  hanging low in the sky that threaten to produce the dreaded white stuff. I know the sun is shining up above the clouds and that just seems so unfair! What about my vitamin D requirement?!

This comes straight from Liv Life Blog with just a few modifications. I recommend it to you on a dark and dreary day.... the soup, not the other blog... although the blog isn't bad either! 

Here’s what you need:
1 lb roma tomatoes (or more)
2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic
Pinch of crushed red pepper
¼ t dried thyme (a mini-secret ingredient)
1 28 ounce can of tomato puree (or diced tomatoes)
1 ½ C chopped fresh basil (don’t skimp here….sticker shock…but summer is right around the corner and the garden will be overflowing with basil)
3 C veggie broth (or chicken broth or some water or a combo of all….we do all veggie and it’s perfect)

Here’s what you do:
Slice the romas in half and massage them in the oil. Sprinkle with salt and peppr.  Roast them at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, turning them over at the half way point.

Meantime, chop and sautee the onions and garlic till soft but not brown. Use low heat. Add the red pepper, thyme, canned puree,  basil and broth. Simmer. When the romas are done, remove their skins and seeds and add them to the pot. Simmer more, adding more broth if desired. Use an immersion blender or other blender to puree the soup. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Meatless Monday Link-Up - Spicy Black Beans with Peppers and Rice

 My first Link- Up! Please participate and be sure to tell your other food blog friends!

Anyone out there want to commit to Meatless Mondays with me? For those of you who don’t know, the Meatless Monday campaign was launched in 2003 in association with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and now there are 23 countries participating! Wow!

Paul McCartney introduced ‘Meat-Free Mondays’ to the United Kingdom and there are tons of other famous people on board…. you know, Oprah and so on. But we don’t have to worry about all the celebrities, let’s just commit to getting at least a tiny bit of meat out of our diets. The health benefits are indisputable and surprisingly, the effect on the environment is pretty profound also. (For example, it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of meat…. That’s CRAZY WASTEFUL!!!!)

Never eaten vegetarian meals before? Not sure where to begin? Well, look through the vegetarian and vegan recipes right here on my blog to start and then surf over to the Meatless Monday website which is loaded with irresistible recipes.

The best way to start a meatless meal is by embracing – and I mean EMBRACING -- the humble bean. :) 

Here’s what you need:
1 T vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 C chopped green pepper
1 C chopped red pepper
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 T ground cumin
1 jalapeno pepper, seed and veins removed, diced
1 t dried oregano
2 x 15 ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 C cans crushed tomatoes with added puree
¼ C orange juice
1 ½ t hot sauce (Tabasco)
1 1/3 C raw rice, cooked

(My beans were frozen and it looks like one of my peppers was orange)

Here’s what you do:
Heat the oil in a heavy bottom skillet. Add onion, green pepper, red pepper, garlic, cumin, jalapeno and oregano. Sauté veggies  until soft but not too brown. Mash about ½ cup of the beans and add them to the veggies. Also add the remaining beans, tomatoes, orange juice and hot sauce. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the consistency is to your liking. Serve over white rice with lime, cilantro, sour cream, avocado, shredded cheddar, etc….. 

(printable recipe)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Turkey Tetrazzini – Party Classic

My Christmas dinner.... not the best photo, but a darn good meal!

You can NEVER go wrong with a huge, cheesy, delicious, make-ahead, crowd pleasin’ casserole. And the leftovers are the BEST!

This recipe is from the ancient days of my cooking, passed down from my mom and her friends. It’s very classy and totally party worthy.  It freezes great and reheats perfectly.

Caution: this make a lot!

Here’s what you need:
Lots of cooked turkey  - leftover turkey breast from Thanksgiving is perfect for this dish. (you could use chicken breast in place of the turkey)
½ lb spaghetti, broken into thirds
¼ lb butter
2 green peppers, sliced
4 T flour
2 C whole milk
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
8 oz cans sliced mushrooms or more to taste, or fresh mushrooms if desired
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t Worcestershire  sauce (or more to taste)
2 small jars pimentos
½ C dry white wine
¾ C grated Parmesan cheese
4 C grated cheddar cheese
½ C shaved almonds

Here’s what you do:
Cook the turkey. (Sometimes, I cook a half turkey breast in the crock pot. This meat is perfect for this casserole) Cut meat in large bite size pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl.  Cook spaghetti and add to the big bowl.  Sautee peppers and mushrooms. Add flour and cook for a few minutes. Add milk and remaining ingredients except for ½ C cheddar and almonds.  

Cook till thick. Pour sauce over turkey and spaghetti and mix well. Pour into a greased casserole. Sprinkle remaining cheddar and almonds over the top of the casserole. Bake till bubbly. You can also wrap the casserole well and freeze it.