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!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tomato Pistou Soup

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature

It's soup weather here in the northern climes. Yes, that's real Michigan snow. And yes, we use top loaders and dump trucks to clear away the snow. Here where I live, they pile it up on the Lake Michigan beach and it creates a wild effect with the wind and sand. Blows all over the place. West Michigan is pretty dang windy. 

Image result for dump truck michigan snow
(careful out there, fellow drivers)

Being all hunkered down makes it easy to create menus - lots and lots of hearty soups.... and stuff from the freezer, cuz who in their right mind wants to drive with those people on the roads? 

Here's a creation of mine that I think you'll like. I call it 'Tomato' Pistou because traditionally, pistou sauce is more of a fresh basil, and since we are plum out of fresh basil at this time of year, I used tomatoes instead. I kept adding veg and created the lovely tomato mixture, and viola! 

Tomato Pistou Soup
10 C water
5-6 medium size red potatoes, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 leeks, diced (be sure to wash them - they always get sandy)
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 C fresh green beans, cut in 3/4 inch 
1 can drained and rinsed dark kidney beans
1/2 C bread crumbs
1 t salt or to taste
pinch of saffron

Simmer the above until everything is nice and soft. 

In a food processor, make the tomato pistou and add it to the soup. 
3/4 C parmesan
1/2 can tomato paste (about 3 T)
1/3 C raw almonds
1 1/2 T dried basil
6 cloves garlic
1/4 C olive oil
black pepper to taste (be liberal)

Friday, February 1, 2019

Eggplant Walnut Meatballs

Looking to cut out some meat from your diet? Why not try something that will be sure to please your whole family? Meatballs!

I've never been a big fan of greasy meatballs, and I never succeeded in frying them or baking them evenly - mine always turned out looking like flying saucers. And you have to admit it's a bit barbaric to touch all that meat with your hand and form the little balls. What about the giant meatballs? Are you a fan?

Basically what I did with this recipe is add 1 C ground walnuts to my already delicious eggplant balls. The nuts added body, texture, flavor, and protein.

Tracy's Eggplant Walnut Meatballs

1 ½ pound of firm, small, peeled eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 T olive oil
½  t salt
½ C fresh parsley
1/3 C fresh basil
1 C panko bread crumbs
2/3 C vegan parmesan cheese(recipe below)
2 eggs (I used 2 flax eggs)
1 C walnuts

Roast the eggplant cubes and garlic cloves in the oil and salt.  (Foil covered baking sheet, 350 degrees, 30 minutes.) When cool, transfer to a food processor and process till chunky. Remove to a large mixing bowl. Next, grind the walnuts, parsley, and basil in the food processor until chunky. Add to the eggplant bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Form small balls with wet hands and bake on a parchment lined sheet at 375 for about 25-35 minutes. 

These freeze very well, so make plenty! They reheat well by lightly frying them just before serving. I do not recommend mixing them in the sauce - they retain their delicate shape and taste better if you simply serve them atop your pasta and sauce. 

Best Vegan Parmesan
¼ C nutritional yeast      
1 C raw cashews              
1 t salt

Here’s what you do:
Process in a high speed blender until a powder is produced. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


How many times have you wondered about the "Authentic Tamale Kit" in your local grocery store produce department? I took the plunge and tried it and I lived to tell about it. 

True, the corn husks were kinda plasticy and not real corn husks and true, the masa was 'instant' (just add warm water), but still! Look what I made! They were AMAZINGLY good. Very simple to do, but a huge amount of time and a big mess in the kitchen. 

I started by making my excellent cauliflower taco meat. Find that recipe HERE. I also thawed my homemade suiza sauce. Find that recipe HERE. You could easily fill your tamales with other kinds of meat fillings, and douse them with any other kind of Mexican sauce or salsa. 

Then it was simply following the steps on the package. Voila! 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Three Pepper Stuffed Potato Skins

There is a group out there in the vegan community called Dr. McDougall's WFPB. The acronym is "Whole Food Plant Based." You can check them out on Facebook or HERE on their website. Lots of great info and excellent plant based recipes. He's the real deal, so to speak. I encourage you to take a peek.

Anyway, Dr. McDougall is into eating lots and lots of potatoes. Not overloaded with butter and sour cream, mind you, just the humble potato. They are super low in calories, have no fat or cholesterol, plenty of vitamin C and B6, and surprisingly, they have more potassium than a banana.

(This is the amazing secret ingredient to so many Mexican flavored meals! I always have about 3 cans in my pantry ready to go. If I don't use the entire can, I freeze it in 2 T portions in small baggies to plop into chilis and stews and refried beans.)

These potato skins are loaded with everything yummy, including three kinds of peppers: poblano, chipotle, and jalapeno. And no, they're not excessively spicy! Serve them with some chips and salsa and you have a nice lunch.

Here's what you need for 6 potato skins (about 3-4 portions)
3 medium- large russet potatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C chopped tomato
1/4 C minced onion
1/4 C minced poblano pepper
3 T lime juice
fresh cilantro to taste
1/2 t cumin
salt, pepper
2 T corn oil
3 T canned chipotle salsa
Nacho Sauce - one recipe (see below)
Avocado for serving

Here's what you do:
Prick the skins of the potatoes well and bake them until they are really soft. Allow to cool a bit. Slice them in half lengthwise and remove 90% of  flesh....leave a little bit behind. (Eat the flesh for breakfast tomorrow!)

Mix the beans, veggies, lime juice, cilantro, and seasonings. Set aside.

Whisk the oil and chipotle salsa and brush the insides of the skins liberally. Place skins back in hot oven (crank it up to 450 degrees) and crisp them up. The secret to a good potato skin is to have a crispy and seriously delicious potato skin!

When the skins are crisp and starting to get brown, fill them with the bean mixture and pour Nacho Sauce over them. Serve with a dollop of guacamole or avocado slices.

Nacho Sauce:
2 T oil
1/4 C minced onion
Saute the above till soft

1/2 t garlic powder, 1/2 t cumin, 1/2 t smoked paprika, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t chili powder
Stir and mix all spices into the onion mixture

Add: 1/4 C flour and continue to cook for a minute

Add: 3/4-1C non dairy milk
Stir well until thickened

Add :
1 can Rotel brand tomatoes
1/4 C minced pickled jalapenos
1/4 C nutritional yeast
Mix well. Heat till bubbly. Devour. Fabulous with Scoops chips!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Cheesy Stuffed Eggplant - Moosewood Cookbook

Last week I mentioned that I have some unusual ingredients lurking in my pantry and fridge. Today I present this gorgeous, gorgeous wild rice from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. (Do I really need to clarify that the Upper Peninsula is in Michigan?  Seems redundant to this Michigan girl. Anyway, it's beautiful and wild and natural and awesome up there. It almost seems like another state: Yoopers have a special accent, they eat food that can only be found there (think meat pasties), and they understand snow... real snow!)

I spent a week in the UP last summer and purchased these two types of wild rice. (can you see the difference?) Seriously, I forgot they were in my fridge. Now, I'm on a mission to use them whenever I can.

This eggplant recipe from my beloved Moosewood Cookbook is one of my old standbys. Today, I swapped wild rice for the recommended brown rice (a great improvement!) and I messed around with the original seasonings.

I served it in the hollowed out eggplant which would be fancy for a dinner party, but usually, I just plop it all in a casserole and call it good. Chewy, cheesy, creamy, and really good.

Here's what you need to stuff 5 eggplant halves or make a nice casserole:
6 medium eggplants
1-1/2 C  raw wild rice, cooked
olive oil
2 C minced onion
12 oz minced mushrooms
black pepper
hot pepper flakes
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C cottage cheese
1 C grated cheddar cheese
1/2 C fresh parsley
2 T sunflower seeds
1 T sesame seeds

Here's what you do:
Cut the eggplants lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the insides. It's a bit tricky, but be patient....it's possible. Chop the flesh in about 1/2 inch cubes. (If you're not serving the rice in the eggplants, simply peel the eggplants and chop the flesh.)

Saute the eggplant, onions, mushrooms, herbs for about 15 minutes. Add the garlic at the last minute or so.

Mix everything. Bake till perfect.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Peanut Sesame Noodles

What are the unusual ingredients lurking in the back of your pantry? I have a bag of millet in mine that I really need to use, but I'm not sure how. I also have a jar of raw, crushed, mild paprika from Poland. I have no idea how use it either. I have some really weird spices too : fenugreek, harissa, and black salt anyone?

I remember purchasing these black sesame seeds because I wanted them for sushi, but after my most recent sushi fiasco (read about it HERE), I'm giving sushi a rest for a while.

You have to admit that the black seeds look great on these peanut sesame noodles.

Nothing too fancy about this recipe; I sauteed onions and garlic and added them to the peanut sauce. Lots of raw veg gave the noodles a good crunch.  Thinning the sauce with pasta water helped keep the noodles nice and silky and made leftover less clumpy.

My guys thought it would be good heated up, but I served it cold. This type of noodle dish always goes over well - everyone loves it.

Peanut Sesame Noodles
Saute 2 small onions and 2 cloves of garlic in sesame oil. Place in blender.
Add the following to the blender and whirl till smooth
1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C tahini
1/4 C lime juice
1/4 C soy (or less to taste)
2-4 T sriracha sauce
2  T honey

cook 1 pound of pasta until tender (more than al dente) reserving about 1/4-1/2 C of the starchy water. Add the water to the peanut sauce.

slice a red pepper as thinly as you can and also chop the tender parts of 2 stalks of broccoli.

3-4 scallions, cut in 1/2 inch slices

serve with fancy black sesame seeds or a handful of peanuts.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Easy Creamy Tortellini Soup

This was so easy to pull together on a late Sunday afternoon! I used a basic recipe I found at Taste of Home and made it better by doubling the tomatoes and making it creamy with a can of cannellini beans. Lots of black pepper is a must here.

Saute some minced garlic in a small amount of oil
Add 2 cans diced tomatoes
Add 48-64 ounces of good vegetable stock
Add 9 ounces refrigerated cheese tortellini
Add 2 t Italian seasoning

simmer until pasta is cooked

Add 1 bag spinach
Add 1 can undrained cannellini beans which have been pureed in a blender
Add 1 heaping t of ground black pepper

Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Spicy Shrimp - New York Times

Do you really think that 'high class' sites like the New York Times and Bon Appetit have better recipes than Allrecipes.com or Taste of Home or other 'regular'  sites?  (Let's not get into an argument about my use of 'high class' or 'regular.' You know darn well what I mean!)

I just made an excellent White Bean, Kale, and Farro Stew from Allrecipes.com. And I plan to make a simple tortellini soup from Taste of Home tomorrow for dinner. Nothing wrong with either recipe as far as I can tell.

Maybe the New York Times uses ingredients that are less common to the average cook, but I never feel like they are out of my reach here in small town mid-America. One glance at the ingredient list below and you'll see what I mean....maybe not everyone has a bottle of fish sauce handy.

You could look all over the internet and find dozens of recipes for a spicy shrimp meal to serve over rice, but I ask you..... did Mario Batali eat it? Well, according to the New York Times, he often made this exact dish after a busy night in his kitchen and then drinking into the wee hours of the morning. Time for something spicy, according to the Times article.  Maybe the stories surrounding the recipes on Allrecipes are more quaint? "I take this to the church potluck every chance I get and everyone loves it!"  No snobbery there.

Mario Batalli has a summer home near where I live, and I can tell you, it's a pretty low-key place. Plenty of  'regular' people walking around. A 'regular' grocery store and 'regular' bars and restaurants. So maybe he's a perfectly regular guy who just happens to have a fantastic career in New York and has had his excellent Spicy Shrimp recipe published there.

Spicy Shrimp - New York Time style

2 T red curry paste
1/4 C fish sauce
1/4 C sambal
1/4 C sweet chili sauce
2 pounds raw shrimp (I used frozen and it was fine), shells removed, deveined
3 T sesame oil
1 C sliced scallions
2 T soy sauce
1 can light coconut milk
1 bunch cilantro

Mix the curry, fish, sambal, and chili sauces in a saute pan. Add the shrimp and cook until done. Add the onions and cook a bit. Stir in the soy sauce and coconut milk. Chop the entire bunch of cilantro and toss in at the last minute. Serve over white rice.