Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Week Gone Vegetarian: Tortilla Soup

This recipe was so good! The charred vegetables really add that extra umpf. You will be going back for seconds, I promise. What a tasty way to end our week of vegetarian eating. I adapted this recipe from Rachel Ray's, which says it's 4 servings, but it's more like 6.


Vegetable or corn oil, for drizzling, plus 2 tablespoons
3 ears corn on the cob or 2 ears fresh-frozen cobs, defrosted
1 red bell pepper, split and seeded
1 pack firm or extra firm tofu packed in water, drained & cubed
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, 1/3 palm full
1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/3 palm full
Salt and pepper
1 small to medium zucchini, small dice
1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (medium to hot heat level), chopped
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
3 cups vegetable stock
4 cups blue corn tortilla chips, broken up into large pieces
1 cup shredded Cheddar or pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 red raw onion, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley leaves
1 ripe avocado, diced and dressed with the juice of 1/2 lemon


1. Heat a grill pan to high and a soup pot to medium-high. Drizzle oil on corn and place on grill pan. Add red pepper to grill with corn. Char vegetables 10 minutes, total, turning occasionally. Remove to cool, 5 minutes. Remove charred skin from the pepper.

2. While vegetables cook, pat tofu dry with paper towels. Cut into 1"cubes. Add 2 tablespoons oil to hot soup pot and cook tofu with poultry seasoning, cumin, salt and pepper until browned. Transfer tofu to a small bow. Add zucchini, onions, garlic and chipotle peppers to pot, adding a tad more oil if necessary. Cook vegetables 5 to 7 minutes to soften. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and vegetable stock. Bring soup to a bubble, reduce heat to medium low.

3. Scrape corn off cob and add to soup along with the tofu. Chop grilled red pepper and stir into soup. Add chips to soup in handfuls and fold in. Serve soup immediately with a scatter of shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Top with any or all of the suggested garnishes.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Week Gone Vegetarian: Tortilla Pizzas

This meal will rock your world. It did mine. I used to take the longer route for home made pizza (making the dough, etcetera, etcetera), but then I discovered tortilla pizzas! Less work AND less carbs! Does it get any better? Choose whatever toppings you like & pop in the oven for a few minutes (I usually broil these because it's quicker & nothing necessarily needs to "cook"). This time around I did tomato, green peppers & onions, plus some seasonings, herbs, and a little olive oil. Tortilla pizzas work well for lunch or dinner. Oh wait, it does get better: also try bagel pizzas if you're not into thin crust pizzas.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Week Gone Vegetarian: Pitas Stuffed with Pesto Hummus & Vegetables

This is another recipe I got from one of my beloved Cooking Club magazines. The pesto hummus is AMAZING! Wonder why I never thought of that?

• Makes 4 Sandwiches •

1 medium garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup purchased hummus
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup quartered grape or cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped cucumbers
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 pita breads, halved crosswise

1. With food processor running, add garlic; process until finely minced. Add basil; pulse until finely chopped. With processor running, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add hummus, cheese and salt; process until well-blended.

2. Combine all remaining ingredients except bread, including remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, in medium bowl. Spread scant 3 tablespoons hummus mixture inside each pita half; fill with vegetable mixture.

PER SANDWICH: 395 calories, 24.5 g total fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 13 g protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 10 mg cholesterol, 440 mg sodium, 7 g fiber

A Valentine's Day Retrospective

Every now & then Ben and I will put our book art-making skills to use & make each other a special Valentine something. This is a small accordion book I made for Ben one year with a personalized message. Even though I sometimes feel like Valentine's Day is another excuse for spending a lot of money on things you don't really need, it's still nice to have a day dedicated to letting someone know you care. Here's to spending Valentine's Days with the ones you love.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Week Gone Vegetarian: Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

This was so yummy it was practically gone in seconds! Hope you enjoy it as mush as we did. Got the recipe from one of my Cooking Club of America magazines.

• Makes 4 (1 1/4-cup) Servings 

4 teaspoons garlic oil, divided
1 lb. portobello mushroom caps, sliced (1/2 inch)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
2 cups chopped onions
2 (5-oz.) pkg. baby spinach (10 cups)
1 cup fat-free plain yogurt, preferably Greek
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Cook mushrooms 6 to 8 minutes or until tender and liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper; place in medium bowl.

2. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in same skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Cook onions 6 to 8 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add spinach; cook 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted, tossing with tongs. Stir in mushrooms and any accumulated juices. Reduce heat to low.

3. Whisk yogurt, evaporated milk and mustard in small bowl. Gradually stir into mushroom mixture; heat until warmed through (do not simmer or yogurt could curdle). Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

PER SERVING: 180 calories, 6 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 11 g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 5 mg cholesterol, 495 mg sodium, 5 g fiber

The Green Polka Dot Box

"Dinner Party" from Green PolkaDot Box on Vimeo.

The Green Polka Dot Box is a distribution service that offers organic & foods with no genetically modified organisms at 30-50% below retail cost and delivers right to your home! I love this. Check out the vid & spread the word.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Week Gone Vegetarian: Fiesta Salad

Time for a nice refreshing dinner salad. I got this recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens cook book, which I love. The dressing for this adds a wonderful flavor to the whole salad... bet you could even use it on some other things, like sandwiches or wraps.

• Makes 4 Main-Dish Servings - 2 1/3 cups 

4 cups torn iceberg, Boston, or Bibb lettuce
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese w/jalapeno peppers (2 oz.)
1/2 of a 15-oz. can black beans, pinto beans, or garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained (1 cup)
2 small roma tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
1 cup (4 oz.) jicama, cut into bite-size strips, or shredded carrot
1/2 cup sliced, pitted ripe olives (optional)
1 recipe Chile Dressing
3/4 cup tortilla chips (optional)

Chile Dressing
• Makes 3/4 cup •

Stir together in a small bowl:
1/2 cup mayonnaise/salad dressing
1 4-oz. can chopped green chile peppers, undrained
1 1/2 ts chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Place lettuce in 2-quart salad bow. Layer ingredients in the following order: cheese, beans, tomato, jicama, olives. Spread Chile Dressing evenly over salad, sealing to edge of the bowl.

2. Cover salad tightly with plastic wrap. Chill 4 to 24 hours. To serve, toss lightly to coat evenly. If desired, sprinkle with tortilla chips.

* I didn't really do that last part (putting it in the fridge); we were hungry & ate it right away and it was still great! For those of you who care, I calculated this recipe at 285 cal/serving (using light mayonnaise & 2% cheese). Happy eating!

A Week Gone Vegetarian: A Yummy, Hefty Veggie Wrap

Mushrooms are like the meat of vegetables. I hated them as a kid, but what did I know? If you are looking for a healthily robust wrap, Here it is. I don't usually measure things, so I apologize to those of you who need the exact amounts. I'll do my best w/measurements below... hopefully these photos will help? Also, it helps to wash all of your produce when you get home from the market, just makes life easier in the morning if you're making your lunch fresh that day. I don't always get around to doing this & end up scrambling to finish Ben's lunch with him peering over my shoulder arms crossed and foot-a-tappin'. 

• Makes 1 wrap •

2 oz. mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bella.. they were on sale)
1 ts olive oil (sometimes I just do cooking spray + a tad bit of water)
1/4 ts cumin
salt, black pepper to taste
lettuce and/or spinach
sliced cucumber
tomatoes (I used roma)
hummus (choose an interesting flavor for some pizzaz)
red onions
red + green bell peppers, sliced

1. Saute mushrooms in cooking spray/a little olive oil until mushrooms darken (about 4 min), adding water towards the end if needed. Season with cumin, salt & pepper.
2. Spread hummus over wrap. Place hot mushrooms on top of hummus, followed by remaining ingredients.
3. Wrap in saran & pack for lunch or devour right away (while it's still warm!). 

And your yummy, hefty veggie lunch wrap totals to ... a mere 162 calories! If you're counting ;).

A Week Gone Vegetarian: Veggie Smoothie

Okay, so this is really just the green smoothie you've all heard about (.. or haven't?). Don't let the greenness gross you out, it's really good! Really! Take it from one who finds it really hard to eat enough vegetables. It actually took me a long time to mound up enough courage to actually try it, but once I did I was a believer (so is Ben)! You can add in whatever green thing you want (kale, broccoli, spinach, lettuce..), some handfuls of fruit and you're good! Plus, I just love smoothies; I think they're a great idea for busy people like me. Aaand you can add in proteins of your choice; be it yogurt, a protein powder or even almonds. Yes almonds. I once made a smoothie using an almond + frozen banana paste that was yum-ee. I'll have to find that & post it sometime this week. I was attempting to recreate this amazing vegan drink I had at a farmer's market in LA from this place that only sold in the local farmer's markets there :{. Anyway. Don't knock this green smoothie till you try it! Drinking your veggies is just as good (if not better + easier) than eating them.

• Serves 2 •
these aren't exact measurements, so adjust as needed

2 cups torn kale
1 cup cold water
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup frozen peach slices
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup orange or apple juice (or an orange/apple, sans seeds)

Blend until smooth & enjoy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Week Gone Vegetarian: Hoisin-Glazed Tempeh with Green Beans + Roasted Cashews

Tuesday's dinner: Our first time eating tempeh. I found this recipe on I'll admit, I was a little skeptical but the results were pleasingly delicious! This is a vegetarian dish I would absolutely try again.

• Serves 4 •
  • Ingredients:
  • 4 tsp. hoisin sauce
  • 2 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar, divided
  • 1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch (I used rice flour instead)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
  • 1 8-oz. pkg. tempeh, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 12-oz. pkg. frozen whole baby green beans
  • 1/3 cup roasted, unsalted cashews

1. Whisk together hoisin sauce, 2 tsp. rice vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch/alternative thickener, and 1/2 cup water in small bowl. Set aside. Now's a good time to toast your nuts.
2. Heat skillet or wok over medium heat. Add oil, then ginger and garlic. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, or until garlic turns pale gold.
3. Add tempeh and hoisin sauce mixture to pan. Stir to coat tempeh. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 2 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken.
4. Stir in green beans. Cover, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes, or until beans are hot, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar. Serve topped with toasted cashews (I forgot these for the photo, but loved the overall dish with them added).

A Week Gone Vegetarian: Sesame Flatbread Crackers

What a great snack these things are. I saw these flatbread crackers in Aldi one day (big fan of Aldi, btw) as I was looking for some new snacks to pack in Ben's lunches and thought they'd be nice to try, especially at just 60 calories a serving! We loved them so much after the first time I got them, that I went back & bought 3 more boxes. The flavor alone is really great; the cracker is light, crispy and considerably filling for a small snack. You can top them with a little hummus (a good low cal protein) or spot of cheese or what have you. The options are endless. They even make the perfect mini snack pizza, with just a few slices of pepperoni (or veggeroni) – didn't even need the cheese!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Week Gone Vegetarian

Ben really wanted to try going meatless for a week so I devised a vegetarian meal plan of what he'd eat for breakfast, lunch & dinner everyday (well, mostly dinner since the other two meals didn't need to be as varied). In my search I came across some really great sites with delicious vegetarian recipes that I will be sharing with you as the week goes on. I'll be posting what we ate along with recipes here. Enjoy & be inspired!

Dinner: Mushroom + Black Bean Quesadillas
• Makes 2 Quesadillas •

Quesadillas are great because you can pretty much do anything with them as far as filling goes. Not to mention the various dips & sauces you can pair them with. I served these with a little salsa, a dollop of fat free sour cream & a sprig of cilantro

1 Tb cooking oil
cooking spray
6 large mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bella)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/3 cup green bell peppers
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 15 oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed, divided
1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles
1/2 ts cumin
salt & pepper to taste
4 oz shredded cheese (I like cheddar jack myself)
2 flour tortillas

*Remember to divide filling ingredients equally, since you're making two quesadillas.

1. Saute Mushrooms & onions in oil until mushrooms turn dark & soften.

2. In a separate saucepan, grill pan, or George Foreman grill, spray with cooking spray. Place down one of the tortillas. Sprinkle down quesadilla filling on one half of the quesadilla starting & ending with the cheese (like the glue of the quesadilla). Fold over so it forms a half circle & cook about 2 min, using something heavy to flatten the quesadilla while it cooks, like another pan if you're not using a Foreman grill. *You can also fill one tortilla and place the other tortilla on top, just another way to do it.* Flip & cook the other side until desired doneness. Repeat for remaining quesadilla(s).

3. Slice, garnish & serve warm with dipping of choice.