February 28, 2010

veggie experiment: days 26 and 27


i used the pizza dough recipe from the better homes and gardens cookbook. i made my own sauce from garlic and onion sauteed in olive oil, then added a can of tomato sauce, a generous tablespoon of sugar, and some dried basil and oregano. for toppings i used spinach, mushrooms, olives and fresh tomatoes. i shook some garlic powder and basil over the fresh tomatoes before i baked it.

February 26, 2010

veggie experiment: days 24 and 25

no vegetarian experiment would be complete without giving tofu a whirl. i recently had pad thai at a restaurant and the tofu was better than i've ever tasted. i thought it would be great to learn to fix it like that. well, last night was NOT the night for that.

i used alton brown's recipe from the food network. i might have accidentally poured a little bit too much fish sauce in. that little bit made a huge difference and it was completely inedible. bummer! but the recipe called for marinating the tofu and i didn't like that at all. so at least i learned that much. it was fun to experiment, especially considering my special trip to the vietamese market which was an experience in itself.

in an effort to redeem myself, i made some curry tofu veggie stir-fry. i made some adjustments based on what i had lying around. this was tasty, but since i unknowingly got the wrong (mild) curry powder, it only got one thumb up from the husband. i liked it since i don't like hot. and i learned my lesson with the tofu and it tasted much better.

February 24, 2010

veggie experiment: days 22 and 23

the falafel is from allrecipes.com (i broiled them instead of frying them) and the couscous from cooks.com (adding more of each spice than called for is better). i was surprised i was able to make something taste so authentic--although i'm not sure i shaped them right. anyway, i love the way the house smells now, after cooking them.

sean's falafel with cucumber sauce


1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 egg
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry bread crumbs
oil for frying

1 (6 ounce) container plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber - peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon mayonnaise


In a large bowl mash chickpeas until thick and pasty; don't use a blender, as the consistency will be too thin. In a blender, process onion, parsley and garlic until smooth. Stir into mashed chickpeas.

In a small bowl combine egg, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice and baking powder. Stir into chickpea mixture along with olive oil. Slowly add bread crumbs until mixture is not sticky but will hold together; add more or less bread crumbs, as needed. Form 8 balls and then flatten into patties.

Heat 1 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry patties in hot oil until brown on both sides.

In a small bowl combine yogurt, cucumber, dill, salt, pepper and mayonnaise. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

spiced couscous salad with vegetables

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 clove minced)
1/2 teaspoon ground or grated ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onions
1 large carrot or 2 small carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small yam, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 zucchini, unpeeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 celery stalk, sliced
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup couscous

This is a great side dish with an Eastern flavor. Because the pasta is cooked in the vegetable broth, it's also a good way to enjoy cooked vegetables while still getting the nutrients that steaming removes.

With the addition of chopped peanuts or walnuts, and the substitution of water if chicken broth is objectionable, this can be a complete and healthy vegetarian meal.

Heat the olive oil and spices over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the white onions and sauté until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, carrots and yam - cover and let steam for 5-6 minutes. Add celery, zucchini, mushrooms and raisins and steam for 3-5 more minutes.

When the vegetables are at the desired tenderness (al dente vegetables add texture to the soft couscous), strain them and reserve 1 cup of the broth/spice liquid. Keep the vegetables warm, and bring the 1 cup of liquid to a boil.

Add the couscous and cover with tin foil for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and mix in the vegetables. Sprinkle the green onions on top for garnish.

February 22, 2010

veggie experiment: days 21 and 22


sometimes i just take a can of black beans and season it with garlic, chili powder/cayenne pepper and onions and serve with the rice separate.

sometimes i cook 1 C rice and then mix in 2 cans refried beans, 1 can black beans and a half a can of corn.

sometimes i saute the rice in oil til brown and then boil with tomato bouillon and mix in fresh cilantro leaves.

or sometimes i'll do any or all combinations above and serve with the normal tortilla goodies like lettuce, tomato, olives, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, etc.

this time i did 3/4 C white rice and 1/4 C brown rice and just adding that tiny bit of brown rice made it noticeably more filling.

February 18, 2010

veggie experiment: days 19 and 20


lasagna around here has always been vegetarian...and my kids love it. here's what i do:

1 lb lasagna noodles
traditional flavor prego--i just eyeball the amount...maybe 3-4 cups?
1 zucchini, sliced
equal amount mushrooms, sliced
1/2 bunch spinach, chopped
2ish cups part-skim ricotta cheese
one generous fistful of mozzarella (plus more for the very top layer)
1 egg
a couple generous shakes of oregano
salt and pepper

cook noodles per directions, drain and let cool. steam the spinach and press as much water out as you can. saute, steam or boil zucchini and mushrooms together (separate from the spinach). in a bowl, combine cheeses, spinach, egg, oregano and salt and pepper.

in a 9 x 13, start with about a half cup of sauce. sprinkle some of the zucchini and mushrooms over that. then layer noodles, then half the cheese mixture, then the sauce, then more veggies and repeat. finish with a layer of noodles and top with some mozzarella. bake 15 - 20 @ 400 or until bubbly and top is brown.

February 17, 2010

veggie experiment: day 18


here is the lentil soup recipe. i made it in about fifteen minutes today because my lentils were pre-cooked.

for the sandwiches i take yummy bread (really whatever you want is fine) and spread butter/margarine on it. then a healthy dash of garlic salt. then a bunch o' fresh basil leaves (or parsley or spinach--whatever you're feeling like, although basil is best). then tomatoes. then mozzarella (or whatever cheese you're feeling like). then, if you're having the basil w/ mozzarella, splash some balsamic vinegar on top of that. then toast until golden and enjoy.

February 16, 2010

veggie experiment: day 17

long ago, after a failed attempt at making peanut sauce from scratch, i bought a bottle of peanut sauce from trader joe's and then forgot about it. when we moved into this house, i found it again, but then put it in the back of the pantry and there it stayed until a couple of days ago when i was organizing the pantry and found it once more. i finally decided to use it...

and i thought the inside of my mouth was going to disintegrate--it was SO hot!!! (i'm a wimp when it comes to spicy.) but i toughed it out and made my husband proud.


bunch o' veggies. i used carrots, celery, asparagus, zucchini and mushrooms.
peanut sauce.
rice. i did half brown/half white rice since i discovered my basmati rice had gone bad.


heat some olive oil and throw in some garlic and saute until it browns. then add veggies and stir-fry/steam until to desired doneness. pour in the peanut sauce and stir in til warm. serve over rice and put dry-roasted peanuts, cilantro and lime juice on top.

February 14, 2010

veggie experiment: days 15 and 16

CHE BELLA NOTTE PASTA (that's the link)
a family favorite. got it from a woman in california who is a caterer. today i put all called-for vegetarian ingredients in it plus some asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms and pine nuts. served it with salad and rosemary and garlic bread.

veggie experiment: day 14

veggie burger recipe from real simple magazine. much, much better than the veggie burger i usually make. good texture as well. the coleslaw recipe comes from a friend of ours in california who is a chef. super yummy and doesn't involve mayonnaise!

p.s. cilantro for me has been an acquired taste and now i can't get enough of it! i want it on everything...so we put lime juice, avocado and cilantro atop the veggie burger. mmmm....



1/4 cup couscous
1 large egg
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 15-ounce can lentils, rinsed
1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and black pepper


In a small bowl, combine the couscous and 1/4 cup hot tap water. Let sit for 5 minutes; fluff with a fork.
In a food processor, puree the egg, sunflower seeds, and 3/4 cup of the lentils until they form a paste; transfer to a bowl. Mix in the carrot, onion, lemon juice, couscous, the remaining lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt,and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Form the mixture into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. Refrigerate, uncovered, until firm, 20 to 25 minutes.
Heat grill to medium-high. Oil the grill grate. Grill the patties, turning once (do not press or flatten), until charred and heated through, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Serve on rolls with the desired toppings.


i just cut up the potatoes, coated the cookie sheet with cooking spray and then put the potatoes in and coated them with cooking spray and sprinkled season salt on them and baked them at 425 until brown and crispy.


1 savoy cabbage (i used regular this time), chiffonade
1 radicchio (or purple cabbage works, too), chiffonade
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 bell pepper, julienne
1/2 C scallion, chiffonade
1 T garlic, minced
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
1/4 C cilantro, chopped
sugar to taste (or add pineapple)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

combine ingredients and toss. adjust seasoning if necessary.

February 13, 2010

veggie experiment: days 12 and 13

feeling lazy

whatever kind of pasta (sometimes i do all whole wheat, or a mixture of whole and regular). favorite pasta sauce (sometimes i just throw together some canned tomatoes, garlic and herbs and sugar to make my own sauce...or i use prego from costco). then i usually steam zucchini and mushrooms to serve over the top.

veggie experiment: day 11

from real simple magazine. i must have done something wrong. all the ingredients sounded like they would produce a good mix. but, it was kind of not at all enjoyable. i even sacrificed cheddar for a week in order to buy the called-for fancy cheese! plus, it made much more than 4 servings and no one wants to eat the leftovers. i still feel like it has potential, so if you happen to try it and it works out, please share with me the secret!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups quick-cooking barley
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 8 cups torn mustard green leaves (from 1 small bunch) or spinach
  • 2 ounces Taleggio or Brie (rind removed), cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the barley, tomatoes, wine, and 2½ cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Add the mustard greens, Taleggio, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mustard greens are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Divide among bowls and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan.

February 12, 2010

Favorite Broccoli

My friend Heather gave me this recipe. She and her husband were broccoli-haters, but now they eat this all the time. I want to make it every day. Don't be fooled by the simplicity--it's uncannily delicious.

fresh broccoli florets (just chop up a head of broccoli)
olive oil
garlic powder

Toss everything together in amounts that seem reasonable. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

She does the same thing with cauliflower, but adds parmesan cheese and paprika.

February 09, 2010

veggie experiment: day 10


today i just threw a bunch of veggie sides together and we had those for dinner: fried potatoes and onions, baked yam fries, asparagus with reduced balsamic vinegar glaze and a green salad. all things my kids eat and everything just tasted so...fresh.

veggie experiment: day 9

from real simple magazine. i discovered that my family doesn't care for slightly runny yolks. in fact, one of my daughters said, "mom, i like eggs that are actually cooked."

it was decent, but it was missing something...maybe i didn't put enough dried thyme as a substitution in the mushrooms or maybe it could use a glaze of some sort. anyway, i had never made poached eggs so now i know!


  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 medium tomatoes, each sliced into 4 rounds
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 8 large eggs
  • 4 slices country bread, toasted
  • 1 ounce Parmesan, shaved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


  1. Fill a large, deep skillet with 3 inches of water. Add the vinegar and bring to a bare simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the tomatoes with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook until just tender, 1 to 2 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 6 to 7 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, poach the eggs in 2 batches: Crack each of 4 eggs into separate custard cups, then, one at a time, slide gently into the water in the deep skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes for slightly runny yolks and remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining 4 eggs.
  5. Top the bread with the tomatoes, mushrooms, eggs, and Parmesan. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and sprinkle with the chives.

February 07, 2010

veggie experiment: days 7 and 8

from real simple magazine--i've been wanting to try fennel for quite some time. it added a light, subtle flavor. we concluded we'd definitely make this again. plus, the kiddos liked it (can't go wrong with cheese-filled noodles!)

in a large skillet, cook 1 thinly sliced fennel bulb and 1 sliced onion in butter over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. season with salt and pepper. mix in the ravioli, 1/4 C reserved pasta water and 1 tablespoon butter. sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds.

i served this with salad and whole wheat bread.

February 05, 2010

veggie experiment: days 5 and 6

taco salad

the name says it all, but i'll just share how i chose to prepare it.

i used the costco fresh tortillas and laid them on top of my souffle dishes and baked them @ 425 until brown. this made a decent enough tortilla bowl.

inside we put romaine lettuce, kidney beans, cheese, olives, avocados, non-fat sour cream and corn and bean salsa (recipe below).

corn and bean salsa (from cooks.com)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C canned corn, drained
1 C tomatoes, diced
1/2 green onions, chopped
2 T cilantro, fresh, chopped
2 T olive oil
2 T lime juice
1 t cumin
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 t salt or garlic salt (if you don't have fresh garlic)
1/2 t pepper
2 serrano chili peppers, seeded and chopped

veggie experiment: days 3 and 4

modified quiche

i've been making this for a while and don't really have a recipe for it, so i'll try my best...

i love quiche but have a hard time feeding such a lard-laden crust to our family if it's not pie. i wondered for a long time what i could do to substitute the crust with something a little more healthy. so, i came up with mashed potatos that i spread out in a pan and then bake at a high temperature to get them crispy. while i like this, it's still not perfect. so, if you try it and have other ideas for the "crust," let me know.

3-4 medium potatoes, mashed how you like them, spread in a 9 x 13 and baked @ 425 for 15ish minutes, or until brown
6-7 eggs
1/2 ish C milk
veggies chopped into small pieces--my favorites are onions, broccoli, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes
handful of shredded cheddar cheese
oregano (or whatever other spice you prefer with eggs)
salt and pepper

whisk eggs and stir in milk. saute veggies and throw them and everything else into the eggs. pour over the potatoes and bake @ 400 for 15-20min. the girls like this with a little bit of ketchup and kris likes it with salsa. i like it as-is. i served this with a garden salad.

veggie experiment: days 1 and 2

Barley Bean Vegetable Soup

amy recommended this recipe from savvyvegetarian.com. it was good, even with the substitutions i had to make since i didn't run to the store before i tried it. i served it with cornbread. thanks, amy!

1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, OR 1 16 oz can, drained & rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, OR 1 16 oz can, drained & rinsed
*Bean cooking directions below
1/2 cup pearl barley, directions below, soaked 4 or more hours, or pre-cooked 45 minutes in 3 cups water
6 - 8 cups water or bean cooking liquid
2 - 3 Tbsp olive oil or other cooking oil
2 med. carrots, peeled & diced
3 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 lb green beans, 1" slice
1/2 red pepper, seeded & diced
1/2 green pepper, seeded & diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded & minced, OR 1 pinch cayenne (use the whole pepper if you like heat)
2 thin slices fresh ginger, peeled & minced, OR 1/2 tsp dried ginger
1 -2 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled & minced OR 1/2 tsp powdered garlic
1 tsp each: basil, thyme, marjoram, paprika
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 veggie bouillon cube
2 - 3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Braggs, soy sauce or miso
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

*How To Cook Beans:

*Note: If you're going to soak and cook beans, it's worth making extra, to freeze in small amounts for future vegetarian meals. More bean cooking tips and directions
Sort and clean the dried beans
Soak the beans in hot water for four hours, or overnight in cold water
Drain and rinse
Place in medium saucepan, cover with cold unsalted water
Bring to boil uncovered, boil for ten minutes, skim the foam
Cover and simmer for 2 hours
OR cook 9 minutes at high pressure in a pressure cooker
Slow cooker or Crockpot: After boiling and skimming, cook for 6 - 8 hours on low

How To Cook Pearl Barley:

Wash, rinse, then soak barley 4 hours in hot water, or refrigerate overnight in 3 cups water
OR cook for 45 minutes in 3 cups water
Don't discard the barley soaking or cooking water - it should go in the soup

Barley Bean Soup Directions:

Heat oil on medium in a 6 - 8 qt pot
Chop carrots, potatoes, celery, pepper & green beans
Increase the heat a bit, and sauté 5 minutes
Add spices and sauté another few minutes
Add the barley + soaking or cooking water
Add the beans + enough of the cooking liquid to suit you
Add tomato paste + bouillon cube
Bring to boil, cover and simmer 20 - 30 minutes, until veggies are nicely tender
Add Braggs or soy sauce & fresh minced herb
Add salt + pepper to taste

Slow Cooker or Crockpot Directions:

Slow Slow Cooking: You can either sauté the veggies and spices first, then add to the crockpot, or just throw everything in cold, set the crockpot on low, cover and cook for 6 hours. Add the fresh herbs, salt & pepper + Braggs or soy sauce at the end of cooking

Quick Slow Cooking: Sauté veggies & spices as above, transfer to preheated Crockpot with hot beans, barley & liquid. Simmer 2 - 3 hours on low. Keep your eye on it for the first time, as cooking times vary with crockpot size and make. Add the fresh herbs, salt & pepper + Braggs or soy sauce at the end of cooking