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I’d like to open my birth month, June, with a recipe #fail.  Otsu…which is now Yuck-su to me.

This is the first recipe from 101cookbooks.com that I have loathed.  Hated it. Can’t stand it.  Won’t make it again.  I think I have made nearly every recipe Heidi Swanson has posted on her delightful website.  It’s my “go-to” site.  It’s the site that I direct people to when they are like, “you can’t eat anything good if you are a vegetarian” and it sucks them in every…single…time.  I dare you not to like Heidi OR her website 101cookbooks.com.  This recipe however, for me, didn’t suck me in.  It.  Just.  Sucked.  From the surface it looks like something I would eat myself into a food coma by; however, I felt it lacked a certain freshness I was expecting from the sauce.  It just tasted salty to me and sorta, I don’t know, blah.  The cucumber was a strange random addition at the end.  I’m posting this because I think with a few additions or subtractions even, this might be a great dish…so go out there and tweak it to suit your tastes.  Sorry Heidi, this one failed for me.  I still love ya, but this one is getting black listed from my repeat list.


  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Fresh ginger, cut into a 1-inch cube, peeled, and grated
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned brown-rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup shoyu sauce (wheat-free soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 12 ounces dried soba noodles
  • 12 ounces extra-firm nigari tofu
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 small handful of cilantro sprigs, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Make the dressing by combining the zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, and salt in a food processor (or use a hand blender) and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and shoyu, and pulse to combine. With the machine running, drizzle in the oils.

Cook the soba in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water just until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water.

While the pasta is cooking, drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut it into rectangles roughly the size of your thumb (½ inch thick and 1 inch long). Cook the tofu in a dry nonstick (or well-seasoned) skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the pieces are browned on one side. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, the ¼ cup cilantro, the green onions, cucumber, and about ⅔ cup of the dressing. Toss until well combined. Add the tofu and toss again gently. Serve on a platter, garnished with the cilantro sprigs and the toasted sesame seeds.

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Rummaged Flatbread

Some nights I just don’t feel like cooking.  Really.  Yes, even me.  Which is why I’m thankful that I am competitive enough to make a game out of what I can scavenge from the fridge to pull dinner off.  Mr. Wonderful loves anything in the family of pizza.  So naan is a great quick pizza crust and Costco has the best deal on naan in the free world.  Enter naan from freezer and let the creative juices flow.  The most difficult part about this recipe is the patience it takes to caramelize the onions…chop them up and toss into a fry pan over very, very low, for a very long time.  You can vacuum, do dishes, watch some YouTube videos in the mean time.  Hell, get crazy and read a real book.

Here’s a quick flatbread recipe as rummaged from the fridge/freezer/pantry:

Grilled Asparagus, White Bean and Caramelized Onion Flatbread

  • 1 very large onion, any type, chopped finely into half circles (approx 2 C raw)
  • 1 bunch asparagus trimmed and washed
  • 1 C Provolone cheese, grated (goat or gorgonzola cheese would be better here, but none in the fridge, alas)
  • 4 C white beans, cooked or 2 cans, drained-reserve this liquid in case your hummus is too thick and you can drizzle some in (I pulled these from my freezer-reserve 3/4 C to sprinkle on TOP of flatbread, the rest will be used for “hummus” for the sauce on the flatbread)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2-3 T Tahini (or just use a little of the juice from the beans if you don’t have this in your cupboard)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or a handful fresh
  • 1/2 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried chipotle or red pepper flakes, omit if you are not pro-heat
  • 2 T lemon juice, fresh squeezed preferred, but that little plastic lemon kind won’t kill you here
  • salt to taste, this will take more than you think…white beans have little flavor
  • EVOO
  • 2 pieces commercial naan bread

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Cut up onion, toss in hot frying pan with a swig of EVOO, then turn way, way down to low.  Here is where the patience comes in…now, wait.  Stirring every 15 minutes or so.  Caramelized onions take TIME.  Like, an hour or so.  Good news, you don’t have to do anything to them except poke around at them every quarter hour….seriously quit your complaining.
Take the following ingredients and zap them in the food processor until smooth:
white beans (minus 3/4 C for topping of flatbread)
lemon juice
garlic cloves
pinch of salt
You just made white bean hummus which is the “sauce” for the flatbread.
Asparagus should be washed, trimmed and tossed with a splash of EVOO, then turned out onto a hot grill, or in a grill pan until just warm, they should be crispy, semi-raw still, they will be cooked again in a hot second.
Fire the naan for a few minutes in a 400 degree oven to crisp it up just a little.
Now assemble:
Apply “sauce” to naan bread, then onions, reserved white beans, asparagus and top with provolone cheese.  Toss back into hot oven until cheese melts.   Season with a bit of black pepper.

When life gives you over-ripe bananas, find an egg replacement and add a few walnuts to make Vegan Banana Bread

I’ve been a vegetarian for quite some time now, and I have always had strong feelings about going vegan, as in, I’d really love to and then I start thinking…of cheese, eggs and Greek yogurt.

Confession:  I am a dairy whore.  The thought of not eating Habanero Mango Cheese from Horrocks ever again frankly makes me nearly faint.  Like most things, jumping in to a vegan lifestyle with both feet is so scary, so I will make small changes where possible and hopefully will get there someday.

My friends Kolene (@suckahpunch) and Jon (@jon_dunn) however, have basically jumped in head first.  I’m so proud of them.  They began a Twitter group Vegan GR (@vegangr) and a website where they scope out vegan friendly restaurants and vendors around GR and basically run around doing good all day long.  I’m serious.  Case in point, Kolene’s birthday wish is raising money for Carol’s Ferals a non-profit feline organization which performs TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) services in Western Michigan and Jon works for Best Friends Animal Society  where he is the wizard behind their online presence.  I know, right?  You want to hate them, but you cannot help but love these people!  I don’t even LIKE cats and I gave to Kolene’s birthday wish.  They are compelling people for the case of a vegan lifestyle.  Lots of give in those two.  They inspire me to try, at least sometimes, to foster a vegan diet and so perhaps with their help, I will kick my dairy habit and become a vegan too.

I’ve posted vegan baked goods on this blog in the past (Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles) from PPK’s Isa Chandra, but this recipe I took from this little cutie named Claire who runs this blog called Vegan Cooking.  Check her out and while you are at it, bake a vegan dessert like this one I’m giving to Kolene for her birthday.

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Vegan Banana Nut Bread

  • 1 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Cup Demerera Sugar (I subbed brown sugar)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans or Walnuts
  • Equivalent of 2 Eggs Using Egg Replacer (I used 1T Golden Ground Flax Seed Sprinkles which I picked up at TJ Maxx of all places for about $3, mixed with 3T tap water)
  • 2-3 Ripe Bananas Mashed
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350°F.
Sift together dry ingredients. Stir in nuts, egg replacer, bananas, oil and vanilla. Mix well.
Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for 45-60 mins (until knife comes out clean). Cool for 5 mins before removing from pan. Cool on wire rack.

My new guilty pleasure: Horrocks

I’m sure this is old new to most of you, because I haven’t shut up about Horrocks for about 3 weeks now since my first visit to the grocer in Kentwood. My best find to date, besides their seed packets that are 40% “basically every day” according to the butcher in line behind me, is the Michigan grown lentils, peas and beans.

Horrocks carries Michigan grown and packaged dried items from Carlson-Arbogast Farm in Howard City (that’s 49329 for those of you keeping track). They even have a video on YouTube under the Michigan Farm Bureau Channel:

So what in the world do you do with dried beans?  Well, you soak them on a Saturday night over night, then get up on Sunday and cook them about 70% done (while you are ironing or doing laundry) drain, dry, cool and freeze in bags to add during the work week to delicious stoups, soups, stews, tacos, casseroles, curries, etc.  They will finish cooking in the pot of whatever delicious finished item you create.  Why do this?  Less sodium, a better quality, whole bean in your dish, AND they are CHEAP!  From one bag of great northern beans, dried, I got 9 ziploc bags of cooked beans (2C per bag) to enjoy.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to make a lentil stew with white beans from a local grower, surely by this time, you know who I am referring to.  Eat. More. Dried. Beans.  Save a few bucks, help a local grower, and serve a higher quality product.  Oh, and cross your fingers that Horrocks will hire me part-time this summer to feed my foodie addiction; I applied today.

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Tried and True. Asparagus Stir Fry.

In an effort to get Spring to hustle up a little, I bought asparagus today from my new fave food store Horrocks on 44th and Breton in Kentwood.  It’s not quite Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but it is a fine substitute.  When I saw asparagus was on sale, I started dreaming of my fave stir fry recipe from Heidi Swanson at 101cookbooks.com.  When I think of stir fry, I think of this recipe. Salty, sweet, crunchy, tart, easy to add ingredients to, a great clean out the fridge starter recipe and very, very pretty, super green.  It just reeks of good for you.  And if you serve it over soba noodles or brown rice, it will net you 2 dinners and 2 lunches.  Enjoy!

Asparagus Stir Fry

  • toasted sesame oil
  • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, cubed 1/2″
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 hand full pea pods
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger (peeled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 bunches of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • a couple big pinches of fine-grain sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 big handful of toasted cashews, chopped up a bit
  • a few handfuls of spinach, or chopped kale, or chopped chard
  • zest and juice of two limes
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 small handful fresh mint, slivered
  • 1 small handful fresh Thai basil, slivered

Have all your ingredients prepped and within arms reach of the stove. Heat a splash of sesame oil in a large pan, or well-seasoned wok over medium high heat. Alternately, you can do this in a dry non-stick pan – one of the few occasions I still use non-stick. When it is hot, add the tofu, and cook until golden – a few minutes. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.

Add another (generous) splash of oil to the pan and, as soon as it is hot, add the onions, ginger, red pepper flakes, asparagus, edamame and salt. Stir fry for about a minute, then add the garlic, cashews, and spinach and stir-fry for another minute, or until the spinach wilts. Return the tofu to the pan. Stir in the lime zest and juice and the hoisin sauce. Cook for another 10-20 seconds, stirring all the while.

Remove from heat and stir in the mint and basil. Taste and add a bit more salt if needed.  I like to serve this over soba noodles or brown rice.

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Lentil. Loaf. Love.

I have pounds upon pounds of lentils lining the shelves of my kitchen.  No time like the present to cook up a lovely lentil loaf.  I searched high and low for a loaf that didn’t look like meat so much as it did a healthier version, grainy and textured.  Finally, after much loaf searching, I stumbled upon the blog:  eat me, delicious which really is clever and has a ton of really great recipes.  This week I will be cooking from that blog beginning with this loaf.

Lovely Lentil Loaf
Makes 4-6 servings

  • 3/4 cup dry red split lentils rinsed well (until no longer cloudy), cooked in 1 3/4 cups of veggie broth or water until just tender, not mushy
  • 1 cup oats-not quick cooking (or leftover rice, millet or bulgur) I went for Bob’s Red Mill brand, it was on sale at Meijer tonight.
  • 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (tomato sauce or salsa-I used Tastefully Simple’s Bayou Bourbon Sauce)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or Tamari
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour mixture into a loaf pan or casserole dish, lined with foil and lightly oiled.
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

As you can see with this formula the possibilities of add ins, etc are basically endless.

Your final product will be a firm, yet not heavy loaf that tastes delicious over smashed sweet potatoes…just sayin’.

Now get out there and love on some lentils!  This is Walter The Wonderdog approved.

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Math for comm students: hot + chocolate = Vegan Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles

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Math is basically why I don’t bake.  I suck at it.  Measuring, estimating, etc not exactly my strong points.  You should know that Communications students do not adhere to traditional mathematical principles.  Instead you get spicy sweet cookies.  Lucky YOU!  Don’t worry, they are Mr. Wonderful approved.

I’ve adopted Isa Chandra Moskowitz as my patron saint of all things food.  So this is from her website (www.theppk.com) and her best-selling book Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  So, for Valentine’s Day, I give you:  Vegan Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles.  Love, cayenne, vanilla, cocoa and sugar…perfect.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Makes 2 dozen Cookies (I doubled it with ease in one KitchenAid Mixer bowl)

A beautiful crackle topped chocolate cookie with a spicy cayenne kick and a sugary cinnamon coating.

For the topping:
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cookies:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons almond milk (Or your preferred non-dairy milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract (or more vanilla extract if you have no chocolate)
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili pepper powder (find it at Penzey’s Spices)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the topping ingredients together on a flat plate. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together oil, sugar, syrup, and milk. Mix in extracts.

Sift in remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. Once all ingredients are added mix until you’ve got a pliable dough.

Roll dough into walnut sized balls. Pat into the sugar topping to flatten into roughly 2 inch discs. Transfer to baking sheet, sugar side up, at least 2 inches apart (they do spread). This should be easy as the the bottom of the cookies should just stick to your fingers so you can just flip them over onto the baking sheet.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, they should be a bit spread and crackly on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Red Thai Tofu with Sesame Rice Noodles

I love it when I can grab a bunch of stuff out of my fridge and create a great recipe.  Turns out Isa Chandra Moskowicz and I obviously share an icebox.  I got into Isa’s cookbooks only recently as I am not Vegan, only Vegan-ish.  I’m considered Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian, so it was just a bit ago that I discovered that her TV show Post Punk Kitchen is now available on Google Video.  As a side note, I’m happy to say that this Oprah mainstream stuff did not inspire me to go Veg or Vegan for that matter and I don’t rely on a personal chef to cook my meals for me.  Hell, if I have a personal chef, of course I’d be Vegan!!!!!  I’d also have a personal trainer, a car service, a magical camera to make me look skinny from all angles, the list goes on, and on.  However, I don’t live on Fantasy Island and I certainly do not have humpback whales to give each of you just for reading this blog, nor do I plan to build a school in Africa or buy a TV channel.  Sorry guys, I can see me slipping from your good graces one-by-one.  I want to be able to thank Oprah for the Vegan push, but I feel like she probably just bought the Teese Vegan Cheese Company (yeah, they are in Chicago) and wants to increase sales or something.  I know.  Glass half full as usual.

At any rate, back to Isa, goddess of Vegan cooking.  Here is what I most recently made as inspired by her highness:  Red Thai Tofu from her newest and greatest Appetite for Reduction.

Red Thai Tofu with Sesame Rice Noodles

I used Tamari in place of soy sauce in this recipe to make it Gluten Free

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into triangle pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 C sliced shallots (which is a TON of those little buggers)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 2 Tbs Tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbs light agave nectar (or maple syrup, or honey would be fine too)
  • 15 leaves fresh Thai basil
  • 1/4 C roasted salted cashews, chopped

Preheat a cast iron grill pan (or any heavy non-stick skillet) over medium heat.  Add the tofu and cook for about 10 minutes, careful not to burn, just brown both sides.  Take care while flipping the tofu in cast iron not to tear it, use a thin spatula, metal works better than plastic here.  About half way through, drizzle with 2 tsp of the tamari and turn to coat.

Remove tofu, set aside and saute’ the red pepper, shallots, garlic, and ginger in the oil that is left, careful not to burn the garlic.  Cook until translucent.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the curry past, water, tamari, and agave.  Add tofu back to pan with the curry mix and cook for another 5 minutes or until the sauce is thick.  Add Thai basil, toss one last time and serve.

Okay, so when I was looking at this finished dish, it needed a bed of something.  Serve this on greens, or any grain you like, it goes well with everything.  I grabbed some leftover stick rice noodles, cooked them in hot water per the package instructions, then drained them and tossed with 2 tsp of roasted sesame oil-this made a delish bed for the tofu.

Lastly, there were two other things I was going to toss on top of this delicious mess, fresh bean sprouts and a bit of chopped red onion, but I of course forgot them as I was so excited to eat 🙂

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Salt + Chocolate = YUM

I was doing some housekeeping of  my Google Reader, getting rid of stuff I don’t actually read, feeds I don’t care about and more importantly setting up my RSS feeds for Craigslist items I need around the house, when I happened upon a delicious blog I have neglected for 49 posts (sorry!) called Bake or Break.  Zipping through the posts, the first thing that caught my eye was Salted Fudge Brownies and the first thought I had was Must. Make. Now.  And so I did.

Keeping true to my inability to actually just make a recipe without changing stuff, I made them a little spicy.  I am sure the delicious factor was increased and not sacrificed.  🙂  Enjoy.

  • 1 & 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, letting the excess hang over the edges. Lightly butter the foil. 

Melt butter and chocolate on low heat on the stovetop in a saucepan or in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. Remove from heat or microwave. One at a time, whisk in cocoa, chipotle powder, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and flour. Pour into prepared pan. Smooth the top of the batter. Sprinkle salt over top of batter. Using a butter knife, swirl salt into brownie batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until edges are set and center is a bit soft. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a little batter coating it.

Cool at room temperature for an hour. Then, cool in refrigerator for an hour or until firm. Remove from pan and foil. Serve at room temperature.

Brownies can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for a month.

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Yahtzee! Red Pepper SALE=Spicy Red Pepper Soup

Some like it HOT.  I for one, basically drink Frank’s Red Hot. It has some kind of hold on me.  A sale on red peppers is like hitting 3 or 4 numbers in the lotto, not the full monty, but you still get an excellent monetary reward…especially at D & W.  So when I saw red bell peppers, 10 for $10 dollars and sprinted to the produce shelf, leaving poor Mr. Wonderful in the dust returning with 20 red bell peppers, he had no idea what had just happened.  Since he knows better than to actually ask about such things, he agreed to just wait for the finished product which we lapped up 2 days in a row and several lunch servings later.

This recipe was adapted from the klutzychef at her blog; check her out she is cute and honest…and talks about burning Rice Krispie treats, my kind of gal.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

serves 4 people as a main meal


  • 8 red bell peppers, roasted (no, it does NOT taste the same if you use canned-just roast them in your oven..super easy)
  • 1 baked medium russet potato, smashed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 2 medium chopped onions
  • 6 garlic cloves peeled and left whole
  • 2 tsp roasted red pepper flakes (half of this for a milder soup)
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder (omit for mild soup, I like to hurt myself eating soup like this…)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes (16 oz)
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-fat coconut milk (or whole fat, whatever)
  • 2 cups veggie broth or water


  1. Bake your potato, set aside to cool.  Roast your peppers, whole, washed and then coated lightly with EVOO or canola oil on a foil-lined (you will thank me later for this step) jelly roll pan at 400 or so until they are black, yes, black.  Set them aside in a tightly covered bowl to cool and then stem, seed, and peel them.  This is not hard, suck it up and do it.  Seriously, the taste is worth it.
  2. In a covered non-reactive pot, heat oil in a dutch oven on medium-high heat.
  3. Add onions, carrots, salt, pepper flakes, chipotle powder, and garlic.  Sauté on medium heat for 15 minutes or until onions are soft and translucent.  DO NOT INHALE DEEPLY when you put the flakes and powder to the oil.  You might want to turn on the fan for a few minutes or suffer for about an hour.
  4. Remove the pot from heat and add canned tomatoes, red peppers, coconut milk, smashed potato guts, half/half and broth/water.
  5. Mix together so ingredients are fully integrated.
  6. Now, in batches, add the soup to a blender or food processor to mix all together.  An immersion blender works beautifully here as well since you can just throw it right into the pot.  If you have a dish towel to spare and are using a standing blender, you may want to put the towel under the cover to prevent hot soup from spilling out the top.
  7. Keep warm until ready to serve on stove over low.
  8. Top with Frank’s Red Hot (I know it’s too much, but it’s soooooo good).

Simple Split Pea Soup

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You know it has been too long since last you blogged, when you can’t remember the login or password to your WordPress account.  Sorry friends.  I have a few backlogged items to share with you in the next few days and then hopefully next week some new cooking (I have a few new cookbooks, shocker).

This easy and super cheap soup comes to use via my fave Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com.  You can pre-order her newest and greatest cookbook on Amazon right now SuperNatural Every Day.  If not for the recipes buy it for the food porn pics.  She is as good a photog as she is a veggie chef.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I used Fustini’s Meyer Lemon)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups dried split green peas, AND 1/2 cup dried split yellow peas, picked over and rinsed.
  • 5 cups water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (reserve the zest)
  • a few pinches of smoked paprika
  • more Meyer Lemon olive oil to drizzle

Add olive oil to a big pot over med-high heat. Stir in onions and salt and cook until the onions soften, just a minute or two. Add the split peas and water. Bring to a boil, dial down the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the peas are cooked through (but still a touch al dente). Using a large cup or mug ladle half of the soup into a bowl and set aside. Using a hand blender (or regular blender) puree the soup that is still remaining in the pot. Stir the reserved (still chunky) soup back into the puree – you should have a soup that is nicely textured. If you need to thin the soup out with more water (or stock) do so a bit at a time. Stir in the lemon juice and taste. If the soup needs more salt, add more a bit at a time until the flavor of the soup really pops.

Ladle into bowls or cups, and serve each drizzled with olive oil and topped with a good pinch of smoked paprika and a touch of lemon zest.

Serves 4 to 6.

This froze well, and all my work friends were jealous when it was beef on noodles day again in the cafe’ and I was eating a bowl of spring yum.  Also pictured with the soup was home-baked (from a freezer loaf) bread topped with chili sea salt and Meyer Lemon EVOO.

Fancy Nancy Visits: Pad Thai Salad with Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing

I used to live with a good friend of mine, JT or “Fancy Nancy” (it’s a long story).    We shared living space, dog duties, a desire to cook dinners in nearly every night, good olive oil, and obsessive relationships with size 9 pumps, Glamour Magazine and beauty products.  Yeah, I miss her a lot.  I’ve lived in my new place for a while now and it was time for her to see the house, and for Walter the Wonderdog and her dog Max to have some play time.

What girl isn’t watching her weight?  I mean, even the super skinny ones that I want to force-feed veggie burgers to, are watching their weight.  I hate those girls, I have never and will never be what one might label as skinny (and I never want to be skinny-I, like Fergie, like my lovely lady lumps).   I digress…my fave veg cookbook author Isa Chandra (Moskowitz) just released a “fast and filling, low fat” vegan cookbook called Appetite for Reduction (hat tip to Axl Rose) and it is totally FAB.  There isn’t a single recipe that I don’t want to try, honestly.  So, I randomly opened the book to the salad section and tried this one:  Pad Thai Salad with Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing.  Ohhhhh, ahhhhh.  I know, right?!  I particularly LOVE this cookbook because, I sometimes am not really satisfied with 1 C of anything…so if you eat 2 C of something in this book, you aren’t really gonna pay the piper in terms of calories.  It’s still lower than an entree eaten out.  Isa does a great job with nutritional content and zippy tastes from common ingredients.  I used a couple of recipes from the book to make this dish, Pad Thai Salad and Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing.  All fast, and easy.  Enough talk, let’s eat.

Pad Thai Salad

  • 8 C chopped romaine lettuce
  • 4 C bean sprouts
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 recipe Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing *
  • 1/4 C roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 C lightly packed fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges for serving

In a large mixing bowl, toss together the lettuce, sprouts, red onion, and carrot.  Add the dressing and toss to coat.  Distribute the salad among four bowls.  There will most likely be dressing left over as it is fairly thin.  Distribute the dressing among the bowls.  Garnish with roasted peanuts, cilantro, and serve with lime wedges.

Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing

  • 1/2 C roasted peanuts
  • 2 T chopped shallot
  • 1/4 C squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 T agave nectar
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Sriracha

Pulse 2 T of the peanuts and all of the shallot in the food processor, just to chop everything up.  Add the lime juice, water, agave, soy sauce, and Sriracha, and blend until smooth.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides a few times.  Now add the remaining 2 T of peanuts and pulse for a bit.  These shouldn’t be blended smooth, just chopped up small.  The dressing will be thin.  Adjust the seasonings to your liking.  Keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed container until ready to use, up to 5 days.

In this photo you will see Red Thai Tofu as well, but we will save that recipe for another day.

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Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Grilled Tofu

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I had a little hiatus from blogging due to my first cooking injury.  Good thing Mr. Wonderful bought really sharp knives or I might be down a finger, instead I just filleted myself a little bit.  You would not believe how incredible the combo of super glue and liquid bandage are in avoiding a visit to urgent care and stitches. I digress, on to the recipe.

I’m officially obsessed with Isa Chandra now that I have her newest cookbook Appetite for Reduction.  I mean, I loved her before with her Post Punk Kitchen (PPK), Vegan Cookies Invade the Cookie Jar and her Veganomicon, but this book is her best and healthiest yet (um, can we get more pics in the next book please?).  Here is the first recipe Mr. Wonderful and I tried from the book.  Just try it, don’t let the ingredients scare you. Most of them are readily available at the “normal” grocery store in the ethnic aisle.  If you want a deal on the price of these items venture to your local Asian grocier, just don’t freak out about what you might see in the freezer section.  You have been warned.  Now you have no excuse NOT to get to know chili garlic sauce as a binder for a delish dressing.  Even Walter the Wonderdog got in on the cooking action this time.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Grilled Tofu

Serves 6 – Active Time: 30 minutes  Total Time:  40 minutes

(Can be made gluten-free if using GF tamari in place of soy sauce)

Cook’s Notes:

1. I used my heavy duty cast iron grill pan & it made gorgeous, “grilled tofu”.  Get a grill pan at Bed, Bath, & Beyond for 20% off.

2.  I used Nasoya light firm tofu to cut the fat.  My nutritional info, therefore, differs from Isa’s in the book.

3.  You can sub walnuts or cashews for the peanuts if you like.


  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey..heck you could use maple syrup)
  • 3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes, depending how juicy your limes are)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, optional


  • 12 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package of thin rice noodles (vermicelli)
  • 1 medium-size cucumber thinly-sliced half-moons (1 heaping cup or 6 ounces)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 handfuls of bean sprouts (I’m all about bean sprouts right now)
  • 4 ounces string beans, sliced into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)  These stay raw!
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup bean sprouts (this I added because I’m obsessed with them)
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves

Peanut-Mint Gremolata (I used walnuts):

  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • Zest of 1/2 lime


1.  To make the dressing, mix all its ingredients together and stir vigorously.  Set aside.

2.  Slice the tofu into eight equal pieces widthwise, then slice those rectangles corner to corner to form long triangles.

3.  Place in a single layer on a large plate and pour 6 tablespoons of the dressing over the slices.  Also drizzle 2 teaspoons of soy sauce.  Let marinate, flipping occasionally, while you prepare everything else.

4.  Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions.  Usually they say to boil water, turn off the heat, and soak the noodles for about 8 minutes.  Once cooked, drain in a colander and run the noodles under cold water for about a minute until they are fully cooled.  Set aside to drain while you finish prepping everything.

5.  Mix all of the vegetables and the mint leaves into the noodles. Just use your hands–it’s messy, but the best way I found to incorporate everything.  Mix the dressing into the noodles and toss to coat.  Refrigerate while you prepare everything else.

6.  Combine the gremolata indredients in a small bowl.

7.  Now grill the tofu.  Preheat a non-stick grill pan or a cast-iron grill pan or a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.   Do not spray a non-stick pan with oil–it will ruin it!  The tofu will not stick! If you only have a cast-iron pan you will have to spray it or the tofu might stick.  Grill the tofu on each side for 4 minutes, or until grill marks appear.  If using just a regular pan, cook it for 3 minutes on each side.   Add the excess marinade to the noodles.

To serve: Scoop the noodles into six pretty bowls.  Wedge two or three tofu peices on the side of each bowl.  Sprinkle with the gremolata and serve with lime wedges and extra chili garlic sauce.

Holiday Leftovers II

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Leftovers to be transformed:  pineapple, sourdough bread, green onions, heavy whipping cream.

Made grilled chipotle/raspberry open faced sandwiches with grilled pineapple, green onions on sourdough bread.  Pineapple two ways for dessert, grilled and fresh/raw with cinnamon, nutmeg and are you ready for this?  Peachtree schnapps.  Yes.  Schnapps.

The how:  slice and press your tofu into “steaks”, marinade in chipotle/raspberry bbq sauce or any other sauce you have available for 20 minutes or so.  While you are marinating, slice and grill your green onions and pineapple over high heat until just done.  Remove pineapple and onion, then grill tofu until heated throughout and you achieve those super cool grill marks on both sides.  Remove from heat and toss your bread right onto that mess in the grill pan.  It will toast up with sauce remnants on it which isn’t a bad thing, trust me.  Assemble as an open face sandwich (I only had 2 pieces of bread to work with).

For the grilled and fresh pineapple dessert with whip.  Whip up some heavy cream with a dash of nutmeg, Splenda or sugar, cinnamon, and a douse of Schnapps.  Don’t measure, just taste as you go.  It’s not scientific, it will still be delicious-give it a whirl.  If your household has more class than mine and doesn’t have Schnapps on your shelf, stand in judgement for a bit like I expect you to, then just use vanilla for the same type of flavor profile.  🙂  Add whipped tipsy cream to your fruit and serve as shown in photos.

Doing The RIGHT Thing!! Leading By Example: Cooking Day With Molly

My friend Julie is crazy.  Like in all the very BEST ways, crazy.  I’m so proud of her latest post to Facebook it nearly brought me to tears, I was forced to drop everything and brag about her in this post.  But first, a little health education, as if you actually thought I could write about this topic and not go all geek on you!!

In case you have been living in a cave for oh, say 50 years.  We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. In ancient historic times a person’s weight was the gauge of their social standing. A thin person often meant poverty and a plum family equated to the fact that they were doing well enough to have plenty to eat. This is not the case now. Our culture is producing the first generation of obese children with the highest risk factor of developing diabetes. The National Institutes of Health estimate that over sixty five percent of Americans are either overweight or obese and the number is climbing. With the rise of obesity, the diagnosis of type-2 diabetes has also been increasing.

We are a nation obsessed with all the wrong types of foods and are constantly being marketed to buy and consume copious amounts of junk and fast food. The American Diabetes Association has been expressing alarm at the fact that approximately twenty one million people have diabetes with a potential of around another fifty four million diagnosed with pre-diabetes (an increased elevation of the blood glucose levels but not at a level to be officially diagnosed as type-2 diabetes). The  are alarming.

Diabetes is a dangerous disease, however, type-2 diabetes has been related as a lifestyle disorder. This means it can start at an early age with a high fat and high sugar diet that lends to the disease progress. By the time of later adult hood, the body functions are set in place to have type-2 diabetes.

Here’s what all the fuss is about:

Over two thirds of the adults in the United States twenty or older are considered to be overweight or obese-
All adults total: 68 percent; Women: 64.1 percent. Men: 72.3 percent

About one third of the adults in the United States twenty or older are considered to be obese-
All adults total: 33.8 percent; Women: 35.5 percent. Men: 32.2 percent

5.7 percent of adults in the United States twenty or older are considered to be extremely obese.

There has been a steady increase in obesity in all ethnicities, genders, ages and education levels. The prevalence of obesity in the United States has increase from 13.4 to 35.1 percent in adults age 20 to 74. Since 2004, while the prevalence of overweight is still high among men and women. There aren’t any significant differences in documented rates from 2003, to 2004; 2005 to 2006 and 2007 to 2008. There hasn’t been any change in obesity prevalence in women from 1999 to 2008; 2009-2010 official statistics have not yet been released, but I’m predicting an increase.

The increase in obesity in children in a 2003-2006 study showed 12.4 percent of children ages 2-5 and a 17 percent of children aged 6-11 were overweight.  Most studies show that there is an increased mortality rate associated with obesity due to all sorts of preventable diseases and recently, even the National Cancer Institute links obesity to CANCER!!!!

If we as a community and a culture are going to encourage a healthy life for future generations, and change these alarming statistics, we have to stop buying prepackaged and premade products from manufacturers that really don’t care about us.  Their job is to sell us product people!  We need to pull the junk food from the schools and replace it with healthier choices (this I could talk about for hours-vending machines in schools still selling regular soda!!? It’s an outrage and a totally separate blog rant later).  We also need to begin learning to eat right and less in volume, no matter where we are.  Lastly, we need to cook at home with our kids!!!!!  I applaud you Julie ( you too Molly! ) for taking steps in the positive direction for change.  I love that you begin with a very humble and also misunderstood veggie, Brussels Sprouts.  Listed below is Julie’s note from FB, keep up the good fight gals!

(Statistics not immediately sited in text were taken from the Centers for Disease Control website:  cdc.gov).

Julie:  So, I’ve been inspired by Cooking Light Magazine and their “12 Healthy Habits of 2011” program (check out their website…it’s a pretty cool thing they’re doing!)  January is the month of adding more vegetables into your diet.  Clearly this will only benefit my effort of weight loss (and my SparkPeople program) so I went to the store today with a mission to get some veggies, try a NEW veggie, and prepare some stuff that will get me through the week.

My new veggie:  Brussels Sprouts.  Yes, Erin, I’m trying Brussel Sprouts.  (I know…you’re tearing up 🙂  I’m linking the recipe that I’m going to use.  (I’m hoping that the link works.)


And, Molly and I created a Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili.  It has butternut squash in it.  Which just happens to be one of my FAV veggies 🙂  Here’s that recipe.


It’s going to be a veggie filled month, I just know it 🙂

(If I tag you, it’s because you’re either a foodie or a diet buddy, or just b/c I adore you.)

Holiday Leftovers Take I

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I’m terrible when it comes to leftovers.  They typically end up in the garbage.  This dish however, began as stragglers, so not technically leftovers as in cooked and saved, this was mostly the stuff that didn’t get made and that would normally rot in my fridge.  As there isn’t really a recipe, here is what I did:

1.  Roasted the squash (in cubes) and brussels sprouts in a few teaspoons of EVOO at 400 until sprouts were caramelized and squash was done.

2.  Warmed up some leftover Basmati (my fave) rice from a previous stir fry.

3.  Stir fried extra firm tofu with lemon juice, orange juice and the zests of both until the tofu was caramelized and the juice made a little sauce.  Then I tossed in a little soy for salt, it created a little glaze.

4.  To assemble:  tofu on rice, with side helping of veggies roasted and topped with pom seeds from the fridge.  We enjoyed this with some leftover French bread and smoked cheddar cheese.

Nom nom.  🙂

Christmas Day with The Wonderfuls

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On the veggie menu:

  • Cranberry Crostini
  • Apricot Crostini
  • TLT Open Faced Baby Sammies
  • Sweet Potato Chipotle Gratin/Casserole
  • Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries
  • Chocolate Mallow Fondue with Dippers

Cranberry and Apricot crostini are this simple:  toast a French baguette, slather a little goat cheese on it, top with dried fruit and honey if you so desire.  For the cranberry crostini, I used cinnamon/cranberry goat cheese, topped with whole dried cranberries, and for the apricot crostini, I used honey goat cheese, topped with chopped apricots and lavender honey drizzle.

The TLT sammy recipe was adapted from Heidi over at 101cookbooks.com.


  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 pints tomatoes
  • 2 packages fakin’ bacon tempeh
  • 1 clamshell mixed baby lettuce leaves
  • 1 small package regular plain goat cheese
  • 1 French baguette, sliced and toasted
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • EVOO

The night before, preheat the oven to 400, toss the tomatoes with EVOO and roast until sweet and caramelized.  Save these for the next day in the fridge.  Day of, mash the avocado with the lime juice to make a make-shift-guac, this will go on the crostini at assembly.  Prep the fakin’ bacon per the package instructions.  To cook a bunch of it at a time, I cut the strips in half, put on a baking sheet and tossed into the oven for a few minutes until warm and crispy.  Next, assembly is easy:  take a crostini, top with a schmear of goat cheese, lettuce, avocado numminess, fakin’ bacon, and tomatoes.  Or whatever order your OCD compells you to assemble this tasty bite.

So as not to lull you into submission or boredom with the length of this post here are the other recipes I made.

Smokey Chili Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberry Brown Butter

Chocolate Marshmallow Creme Fondue (use the creme so it’s veg friendly, sans gelatin)

Clean Out Your Cupboard Mexican Sopa

I really, really wanted to go out and get half-off sushi at XO in downtown GR tonight, it’s just simply too cold to leave the house, really!  Typically Mr. Wonderful and I eat at XO for lunch on Tuesdays, because can you really pass up a 9 dollar stuff your face with sushi lunch?  No way.  Today however, I had a lunch and learn speaker session to attend and could not go to half-off sushi day. I was crying on the inside, really.  Instead, while listening to a charming and informative session put on by AMA West Michigan, I ate a crappy warm mixed greens salad without dressing (it looked gross), limp and flavorless “veggie pad Thai” (or my translation for the table was peanut butter spaghetti for white people-gag) and starchy, clumpy COLD rice, with a stale dinner roll.  I pushed my plate forward and covered it with my napkin for a proper burial after I ate the greens and then waited to get home to eat my leftovers from last night’s Pineapple Tofu dish.

While I am known on occasion to exaggerate (I know you are surprised by this revelation), I have to get this out of my system as I work in a catering department of a very well-known west Michigan establishment and hotelier:   food at other venues is shit compared to what we produce at my beloved place of employment.  Yes, really, shit.  I mean, I cannot emphasize enough, what an outstanding team of chefs and talented staff we have on our team.  A luncheon on our turf, would NOT leave you wishing for your leftovers at home, this I assure you.  I even passed on, are you ready for this…the Christmas sugar cookie.  The Pillsbury cut and bakes I can buy in the refrigerated section  are more desirable than the floury mess with butter frosting.  Honestly people…and you call yourselves professionals?

Sorry about that distraction, I’m still mad that while my $40.00 paid to attend the session today was in my eyes a donation to the organization, approximately $0.00 went to the food bill.  I feed my dogs better quality meals than I received at that country club, and not to the detriment of the host organization, this is all on the country club, 100% #epicfail.

On to the recipe.

As I wasn’t about to brave the cold, I took what I had and made “stone soup” or as I have dubbed it, “clean out your cupboard Mexican sopa”.  Proof you can take normal stuff from your cupboards, toss it in a pan, add some broth and have a dinner in under 20 minutes.  Mix it up people, your only limitations are what you currently have in your pantry or freezer.  Good luck!


  • 3-15 ounce cans diced or whole tomatoes, zapped in the food processor to make your base
  • 3-15 ounce cans black beans drained, or 4 cups cooked black beans, one cup zapped with tomatoes above for base
  • 6 cloves garlic, zapped in food processor with first two ingredients
  • 1 large sweet onion diced
  • 1-15 ounce can whole corn kernels
  • 1 can or 2 cups great northern beans drained
  • 2T cumin, ground
  • 1T ancho chili pepper, ground or your fave chili powder blend
  • 3T chipotle en adobo, less if you don’t like spicy, play around with it beginning at 1T to taste
  • 1tsp epazote, ground
  • 4 C veggie broth or water
  • Juice of 4-5 limes

Really sophisticated directions here folks:

1.  In a dutch oven, cook onion on medium high until translucent or browned whatever you like.

2.  Dump into onion the base as described above with first 3 ingredients.

3.  Next toss in whole black beans, whole northern beans, whole kernel corn, spices, veg broth, lime juice and chipotle en adobo.

4.  Bring to boil, turn down to simmer, add salt and pepper to taste.

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Serve over baked tortilla chips or rice, sprinkle with cheese, top with avocado, sour cream, squeeze of lime, and chopped red onion.  Freezes like a champ.

Baby, It’s COLD Outside!!

Mr. Wonderful and I were out and about this evening, picking up some groceries, etc when I realized my car outdoor temp registered 17 degrees!!!!!!! Tonight was a toss up, eat poorly and grab some pizza on our way home from shopping or take a marginal amount of effort, 20 minutes and make a real dinner. If I had lost at Weight Watchers this week, I would have absolutely scarfed down some pizza, but since I only maintained, it was this delicious Pineapple Tofu Stir Fry that made me think of an island get-away.  Luckily, I had everything except the ginger on hand, so stopped quick at Family Fare on the way home and whipped up this stir fry with some lovely Basmati Rice. Honestly, chopping and all, took me about 25 minutes. I doubled the recipe which is written to feed two as I had the tofu already cubed, and love this kind of thing for lunch the following day. Mr. Wonderful says “what kinda rice is this? It’s fancy, and tastes good.” Yes dear, it is fancy.

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PineApple TOFU Stir Fry


  • 1 8-ounce can pineapple chunks or tidbits, 3 tablespoons juice reserved
  • Juice of one orange
  • 5 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 7 ounces extra-firm, water-packed tofu, drained, rinsed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (See Tip for Two)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (I needed 2 1/2 tsp when I doubled the sauce recipe)
  • 3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used 2 T of garlic, I love garlic)
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 large bell pepper, cut into 1/2-by-2-inch strips (I used half a green and half a red leftover from my veggie tray)


  1. Whisk the reserved 3 tablespoons pineapple juice, orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup and sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Place tofu in a medium bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Let marinate for 5 minutes. Add cornstarch to the remaining sauce and whisk until smooth.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the tofu to the skillet using a slotted spoon. Whisk any remaining marinade into the bowl of sauce. Cook the tofu, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes total. Transfer the tofu to a plate.
  3. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Add the tofu and pineapple chunks (or tidbits) and cook, stirring gently, until heated through, about 2 minutes more.


  • Make Ahead Tip: The tofu can marinate (Step 1) for up to 30 minutes.
  • Storing Tofu: I doubled this recipe so I didn’t have leftover tofu, but if you don’t double it consider this tip:  rinse leftover tofu, place in a storage container and cover with water; it keeps up to 4 days in the refrigerator if the water is changed every day or 2; freeze tofu for up to 5 months. (Freezing tofu yields a pleasingly chewy result that some people prefer. Don’t be surprised if the frozen tofu turns a light shade of caramel.)
  • Uses: Crumble and use instead of the meat in your favorite tuna or chicken salad recipe; dice and add to a vegetable stir-fry; add leftover silken tofu to smoothies.


Per serving: 263 calories; 12 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 34 g carbohydrates; 10 g protein; 4 g fiber; 368 mg sodium; 549 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (280% daily value), Vitamin A (50% dv), Calcium (25% dv), Magnesium (18% dv).  With rice this was 10 WW points on the new program.

This recipe adapted from my new fave website http://www.eatingwell.com.

Meatless Any Day of the Week

When I discuss being a vegetarian with people, usually they say things like “I could NEVER live without eating meat”.  I would never be so bold as to say, everyone should be a vegetarian or vegan, but perhaps you could find it within you to give the “weeknight vegetarian” concept a try.  Shoot for 2-3 nights in the regular week, to go meat-free.  This might be a practice you observe currently and just don’t really recognize it.  Why don’t you give it a shot?  Start with this simple and fast weeknight recipe, Sesame-Honey Tempeh & Quinoa Bowl.  You won’t miss the meat AND you can incorporate that “quinoa  stuff” that you bought a while back after seeing it on Oprah, into this meal.   Recipe courtesy of Eating Well Magazine.  Mr. Wonderful says: “WOW, that red quinoa sure is nutty.  Is that sesame?”  Why yes it does, and yes it is.  Mr. Wonderful approved.

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There are two components to the recipe a slaw and the tempeh:

Sesame-Honey Tempeh & Quinoa Bowl


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed (I prefer the red quinoa, but any will do)
  • 2 cups grated carrots (about 3 large)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (see Tip)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce


  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 8-ounce packages tempeh (see Note), crumbled into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 scallions, sliced


  1. To prepare quinoa: Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook until the water is absorbed, 10 to 14 minutes. Uncover and let stand.
  2. To prepare carrot slaw: Meanwhile, combine carrots, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon soy sauce in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. To prepare tempeh: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add tempeh and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 7 to 9 minutes.
  4. Combine honey, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened and coats the tempeh, about 1 minute.
  5. Divide the quinoa among 4 bowls and top each with 1/2 cup carrot slaw and 3/4 cup tempeh mixture. Sprinkle with scallions.


  • Tip: To toast sesame seeds, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Ingredient Note: Look for tempeh near refrigerated tofu in natural-foods stores and many large supermarkets.

Per serving: 536 calories; 27 g fat (5 g sat, 9 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 53 g carbohydrates; 13 g added sugars; 28 g protein; 5 g fiber; 588 mg sodium; 899 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (182% daily value), Magnesium (46% dv), Iron (32% dv), Folate (27% dv), Potassium (26% dv), Calcium (21% dv), Zinc (19% dv).

Stuff An Acorn Squash, Not A Turkey

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I launched this mini “save the turkey” campaign via my Facebook page last week wherein I actually paid $20.00 to adopt a turkey, which equates to sponsoring a month of food for the poor little guy to offset what he might have sold for at the market to become someone’s dinner Thursday (yikes take a breath!).  This brought on the usual slew of “what are you gonna eat for dinner if not a turkey?” commentary from people who think that vegetarians/vegans only eat lettuce.  Oh, and for this behavior, I was basically called a Communist by one of my Republican friends.  A Communist, really?  Huh.

While Mr. Wonderful and I basked in the yum that is Chipotle tonight, chasing a Costco expedition high that ended with the purchase of more wine, cheese and bread than two people should even contemplate purchasing, we discussed what parts of Thanksgiving we liked best and it was hand’s down:  sides and desserts. Mr. Wonderful maintains that basically you eat like 2 pieces of dry turkey out of obligation and then head right for the stuffing, cranberry chutney, potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, 7-layer salad, sweet potatoes and dinner rolls.  I don’t disagree.  As long as I can remember I headed right for the scalloped potatoes, the spinach gratin, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, and of course, the homemade yeast rolls.  Top it off with a little pumpkin pie, and…oh, I forgot to mention the endless precursors to Thanksgiving dinner, where you stuff yourself before you stuff yourself with as many gherkins that will fit in your mouth at once, black olives you wear on the tips of your fingers and nibble off that taste like the tin can they fell out of, little cubes of cheddar “fancy” cheese where the serving size is a fist-full, along with all you can eat Wheat Thins and Triscuits, I mean, seriously, this is Americana at it’s finest.  Who needs a turkey? Not us.  Oh, and keep those little wieners in bbq sauce to yourself too. Sick.  Sick.

Here is my “main dish” for Thanksgiving, it mixes a few of my fave sides all into one delish, not to mention beautiful dish.  Give it a try, I bet you will serve more of this than that Turkey Lurkey.  I have yet to go home with leftovers.  Consequently, if you do have leftovers, you can wrap these individual portions in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 weeks, defrost in fridge and warm back up in the oven to rehash their goodness when you need a quick bite to eat, post food coma day.

Quinoa and Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • 6 small acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice (), rinsed
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tsp EVOO, optional
  • 4 green onions (white and pale green parts), chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped granny smith apple tossed in a bit of lemon juice to keep from browning
  • 1 T fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh-squeezed tangerine or blood orange juice
  • Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange squash halves cut side down in baking dish or roasting pan. Bake until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make filling. In large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to boil. Add wild rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Drain if necessary.
  3. In another large saucepan, bring remaining 2 cups of water to boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 12 minutes.
  4. In large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add green onions, celery, apples, and sage, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add dried fruits and nuts and cook, stirring often, until heated through. Using a fork, fluff quinoa and wild rice, then add both to skillet. Add juice and mix until heated through. Season with salt.
  5. To serve, remove squash from oven and arrange on serving platter. Spoon filling into each squash cavity and serve.

More pics to come.  This recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times, 2007.

I dream in ice cream.

Really, I do.  I could eat chocolate ice cream with crushed peanuts and bananas until I vomited.  Then I would start all over again.  I can’t explain ice cream’s hold on me.  I have always, always loved ice cream.

I can remember when I was a kid, my Grandma Helen would take me to the deli on occasion and we would get ice cream.  Every time Gram would get strawberry, but I would struggle making a choice, selecting very carefully a new flavor that I was sure was the best.  We would walk around eating our cones and within minutes, I would be asked by Gram if I wanted a taste of hers, I of course, would share a taste of mine, and then as if it were scripted, I would end up with her strawberry ice cream cone.  Meanwhile, she struggled to figure out what things like bubblegum, blue moon and superman tasted like as she was stuck holding the newest and greatest flavor I had rejected in lieu of the ever tasty tried and true strawberry.  I have since, moved on to chocolate.

In the middle of grading papers, it hit me.  Must.  Have.  Chocolate.  Ice.  Cream.  Mr. Wonderful, because he is well, wonderful, perked up and offered to drop everything and make an ice cream run.  I couldn’t let him do that (could I? no.)…so I went to the pantry and to Google.  “Chocolate Pudding Recipe” entered and like magic the interwebs returned a number of recipes.  I combined a few pudding and ice cream recipes (basically the same ingredients) to make this one, which satisfied my craving for chocolate goodness, sans bananas and peanuts, which I didn’t have on hand.  I forget how delicious REAL pudding is just out of the fridge.  It’s worth the 20 minutes of effort, with 5 minutes of stirring to get this velvety consistency.  Another bonus, most of the items you probably have in your pantry and fridge right now.  Go on, make your midnight snack before bed, you will thank me later.

Mexican Hot Chocolate “Pudding”

  • 2 C half and half*
  • 2C skim milk *
  • 4 T cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 hot chili peppers dried, whole
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 C Splenda or sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt

*You could use 4 C of whole milk if you like also.  To make vegan, omit both milk products and go with a soy replacement, just make sure it’s not labeled “light”.  Coconut milk would be delicious in this too!


Combine cocoa powder, espresso powder, Splenda, spices and peppers in a thick walled saute pan, slowly add the milk and half and half while whisking so as to avoid lumps.  Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, keep stirring for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat, add vanilla.

In heat resistant bowl, whisk eggs together with a small amount of the hot mixture, tempering the eggs, add the remainder of the chocolate mixture to the eggs, combine.  Lastly, add the chocolate chips, whisk until melted.

Pour into bowls, coffee mugs, ramekins, whatever you have lying around the house that you can fit a spoon into, wrap in plastic wrap and pop in the fridge.  If you want to avoid the “skin” which I happen to think is gross, but Mr. Wonderful loves, press the plastic wrap down to the pudding until it touches and wrap up.   I tossed a few in the freezer in ziploc containers so as to mimic the frozen delish that is ice-cream.

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Vegan MoFo Readers Inspire

This is an infant blog. I post willy-nilly when I feel like I have righted some food wrong in the universe with a really delicious recipe. Mostly I blog about food because when I tell people I’m vegetarian or semi-vegan, people give me that blank “deer in the headlights” sort of stare; however, in reality, vegetarianism and veganism is not so uncommon. According to a recent study by my friends at Vegetarian Times, 7.3 Million people are vegetarian, of those 1 Million are vegan, consuming NO animal protein at all and a pretty incredible 10% of US adults, say that they are “vegetarian inclined”.

Good work friends. Keep up your enthusiasm and fierce dedication to a meat free lifestyle and I will keep sharing simple, fun and fresh meat-free recipes to assist your quest for a veg life. If I can do it, so can you. I even have Mr. Wonderful requesting and eating TOFU when we go out to restaurants. It’s a great contagion. Happy Vegan MoFo-ing. Be sure to check out other blogs linked to this site:  Vegan MoFo Headquarters.  Cheers to your next meat free masterpiece.

Fresh bread, 45 minutes, no yeast. Really. It’s yummy too!

Turns out you can make bread that tastes good, without much time, yeast or overloading your very busy napping, I mean working, schedule on a Sunday afternoon.  I forget that I own this cookbook until I see that someone else has dug out a keeper of a recipe from it.  I made more potato soup this afternoon in the crock pot from basically what we had in the fridge, 6 baking potatoes, 2 small yellow onions, a handful of baby carrots, 4 dried chiles, fresh thyme, a little half and half, and some skim milk while we were busy with grading, laundry, cleaning, etc and this quick savory bread was the perfect compliment to that delish dish.

Olive Oil and Salt Quick Bread
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian


  • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups all purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
  • 1 cup of warm water

To Do:

  1. Heat the oven to 375 and grease an oven proof dish or skillet – 8-9″ is probably best.
  2. Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Turn on the machine and slowly add the olive oil and most of the water.
  3. Process for 30 seconds. The dough should roll into a ball and barely sticky.  If it hasn’t come together yet, add remaining water a tablespoon at a time, processing for 5 seconds each time.  If you want to add herbs, cheese, whatever, to the dough, do it now.
  4. Put the dough into the pan and flatten it until the dough fits to the edges.  Flip and press again. Cover tightly with foil and bake.
  5. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle the top with coarse seat salt and herbs (if you like). Bake for another 20 minutes. The top will be golden and it will spring back when touched.

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Vegan MoFo!

Confession:  I ate out tonight.  Worse yet, tomorrow I begin noshing at Restaurant Week GR, which means, the next 10 days will have more dining out than I care to admit to…however, in honor of November 2, Election Day FINALLY being behind us, I give you a recipe I will be making at some point in the next few days, as I have already baked off the potatoes in prep for it:  Baked Potato Soup. What’s the correlation to Election Day?  Well, I came across this YouTube clip of the humble potato and its rise to fame in 1992 when then VP Dan Quayle was schooled by a 6th-grader in how to spell the singular of potatoe, er, I mean potato.  Soup’s on!

Baked Potato Soup

1/4 of a large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 baking potatoes (about 2-1/2 lbs.)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 oz.)
6 cups milk (reduced fat if you prefer, or plain soy if vegan)
1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided (use reduced fat if you prefer or soy if vegan)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream (for garnish, omit if you prefer)
3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
6 faux-bacon slices, cooked and crumbled or other meat sub that has a smoky bite to it.  I used Morningstar Ground Sausage Crumbles in a pinch tonight.
Cracked black pepper (optional)

*adapted from Cooking Light, Rachael Ray and anon on the Interwebs