Thursday, December 19, 2013

Spelt and Arugula Salad

Spelt and Arugula salad with Roasted Root vegetables
We were travelling earlier in the month and sometimes it is hard to get back into a routine, especially when it comes to cooking and preparing plant based meals.  While on vacation, we did have some wonderfully prepared meals that were vegetarian, but not vegan.  We are now back on track with our ‘vegan at home’ diet, with only an occasional lapse.  I recently saw this recipe, a farro salad, which looked delicious and is easily made vegan.  I used spelt berries instead of farro, only because that was what I had in my pantry.  The spelt berries gave the dish a hearty, chewy texture, just right for a cold December evening.  In addition, I served roasted root vegetables, so not only was our meal filling and vegan, but colorful for the holidays.  My tasting partner was delighted with my efforts.
recipe after the jump

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage Hazelnut Pesto

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage Hazelnut Pesto

My ‘vegan at home’ tasting partner and I have been eating roasted vegetables a lot this month, and while I love the root vegetable medley that I recently posted,  http://atastersnotesrecipes.blogspot.com/2013/11/roasted-root-vegetables.html sometimes I want something different, a little more involved.  When we were eating fish at home (before we ventured into the ‘vegan at home’ diet) I would have numerous presentations and tastes for grilled salmon.  Not so much with vegetables.  I am working on that because I realize in order to be successful with a vegetable based, vegan diet, I need to have exciting, fresh tastes to compliment the vegetables.  This recipe, from FOOD52, meets those criteria.  Combining a hazelnut pesto with roasted butternut squash, and adding ricotta salata (not vegan) is a wonderful taste.  I recently served this dish when my sister was visiting, and both she and my tasting partner applauded my efforts. 

recipe after the jump

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables

As the evenings turn cooler, my cooking changes as well.  I am more likely to use the oven or have something simmering on the stove top all day long.  One of our favorite dinners of late has been roasted root vegetables with a green salad and some crispy bread.  You can adjust and modify this recipe according to your tastes, but my suggestion is to use a variety of root vegetables for the best flavor.  And if there are leftovers, you can always puree them, add a vegetable stock to thin, and serve as a soup the next day.

recipe after the jump

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sweet Corn Polenta and Eggplant Sauce

Sweet Corn Polenta and Eggplant Sauce
I was never a fan of polenta.  I like cornmeal made into corn bread, corn tortillas and tamales, but polenta always seemed like a bland, tasteless food and I would never order a dish that contained polenta and I never made polenta at home.  It seemed like too much trouble and it really didn't taste good, in my opinion, and my tasting partner agreed.  Then I saw a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook  Plenty that used corn kernels to make polenta. Interesting, making polenta from whole corn kernels, why not?  This recipe is fresh, vibrant and delicious.  It can be made vegan, or vegetarian, and is not too time consuming.  It is a filling and flavorful meal that my tasting partner and I enjoyed thoroughly.

recipe after the jump

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Slow Cooked Baked Beans

Slow Cooked baked beans
My tasting partner and I have been trying to follow a ‘vegan at home’ diet for over a year now.  We have been fairly successful and only break the rules when we are celebrating when one of our boys comes home or during a family holiday.  Beans have become a mainstay of our diet, and our middle son and his lovely girlfriend gave us a “Year of Beans” from Rancho Gordo, http://www.ranchogordo.com/  an heirloom bean company near San Francisco.  I have always liked beans, but have in the past used only canned beans.  You have to plan ahead when using dried beans, and I usually plan my dinner meal when I first wake up- what do I feel like eating that day.  And it seems so time consuming to soak the beans over night and then cook them the next day when a can of beans can be opened and used immediately.  However, I have been converted: every package of heirloom beans that I have used from Rancho Gordo has been outstanding, and I now think a day ahead when thinking of beans.  I recently used some dried white beans called ‘ayocote blanco chico’ from Rancho Gordo to make Slow Cooked Baked Beans and they were delicious.  My tasting partner went back for thirds!  From the Rancho Gordo website, they say that ‘‘because it's a runner bean, these beans can hold its own with some rough cooking, so go ahead and use them in cassoulet or salads. They won't fall apart easily and yet they're soft and creamy.”  Rancho Gordo beans have a limited production and distribution, so I would look for an heirloom white bean if at all possible such as dried navy beans, Great Northern Beans or kidney beans.

Recipe after the jump

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Brownies


Vegan Chocolate Brownies

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that we have been trying to eat a ‘vegan at home diet’ which has mostly eliminated any kind of baked goods, since, in my opinion, the tastiest baked items use eggs, which of course, are not vegan.  And I have tried to eliminated baked goods and desserts from our diet to avoid ‘empty’ calories, which I have pretty much done since I haven’t been able to find a tasty vegan replacement.   Enter our new vegan friends who have some wonderful vegan dessert recipes.  Anxious to try a couple of recipes, I found success with all of them.  The first is a vegan brownie.  I love brownies, (no nuts, please) and I have a homemade brownie recipe that is simple, easy and we can be eating it in under an hour and it is delicious (but not vegan).  I was skeptical at first, but this vegan brownie is moist and delicious, a winner.  My tasting partner and I ate half of them before they had a chance to cool.  And, I can rationalize that they are fairly healthy because they are made with applesauce and flaxseed. 

recipe after the jump

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Indian Vegetable Curry



Indian Vegetable Curry
The weather is finally cooling down here in SoCal, and the brisk early mornings had me thinking about curries and soups.  I had, in a past life, made curries with beef, but now, with my tasting partner waxing poetic about the virtues of a ‘vegan at home diet’ I knew my curry would be vegetarian.  I originally thought I would just go the prepared curry paste route, but after looking for some vegetarian recipes, I decided making the curry ‘from scratch’ wasn't that hard and would probably taste better.  This curry has a number of Indian spices that meld into a flavorful sauce and isn't too spicy.  It is the perfect dinner for a cool night.  My tasting partner had seconds. 

recipe after the jump

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto
Earlier this summer, my tasting partner and I went wine tasting in the Willamette Valley, Oregon for a week.  We had a lovely, relaxing time, biking in the morning, wine tasting during the afternoon and dining in the evenings.  One evening we went to the Joel Palmer House http://www.joelpalmerhouse.com/ and enjoyed their vegetarian mushroom tasting menu.  One of the menu items we had that night was a wild mushroom risotto which was outstanding.  The depth of flavor, the nutty, mushroomy taste with the truffle oil drizzle made this risotto unforgettable.  Once back home, I searched the internet for a similar recipe.  Much to my surprise, I found a recipe http://www.winemag.com/Recipes/Recipe-Index/index.php/name/Joel-Palmer-House-Wild-Mushroom-Risotto-with-Oregon-White-Truffle-Oil/record/4332/

I made 2 slight changes.  I used ½ of diced white onion, not dried, and the truffle oil I had on hand.  The changes I made are reflected in my recipe.  I served this risotto at a Pinot Noir wine tasting we had recently and everyone raved, including my tasting partner.

This wild mushroom risotto is not vegan, but can be made vegan by substituting a vegan ‘butter’ to use in the preparation and eliminating the parmesan cheese. 

recipe after the jump

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Farro Salad


 
Farro salad
It has been HOT in SoCal, and I have been reluctant to use the oven or spend any time over a hot stovetop, so my tasting partner and I have been eating a lot of salads lately.  Besides the usual leafy green salads which we always eat, we also enjoy a farro salad that can be modified according to your taste.  It is easy to assemble, and the farro provides a nutty taste and chewy texture.  It is a great summer salad, one my tasting partner enjoys and it’s vegan!

Farro is a wheat grain and can be found at specialty stores like Whole Foods, or in Italian food markets, if you are so fortunate to have one near by.  Brown rice or Quinoa are gluten free alternatives which would also be tasty.

recipe after the jump

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Udon Noodles and Peanut Sauce

Udon Noodles and Peanut Sauce


Before starting our ‘vegan at home diet’ I never considered making peanut sauce or using Udon noodles.  But now I am doing both.  I had been purchasing at my local health food store a prepared vermicelli noodle in peanut sauce which I enjoyed, so when I came across a recipe for Udon noodles in peanut sauce, I was quick to try it.  What is great about this recipe is that the thick, chunky Udon noodles really holds on to the peanut sauce and it’s great the next day, cold, out of the refrigerator.  This recipe is not quite vegan because the Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, but you could probably eliminate that and increase the soy sauce to 1 cup to be totally vegan.  My tasting partner loves anything made with peanut butter, so he says this is a home run.

As a side note, if you are gluten sensitive, you can replace the Udon noodles with Soba noodles.  You might not get the same starchy mouth feel, but this peanut sauce is so tasty it won’t even matter. 

recipe after the jump

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sticky Rice with Mango



Sticky Rice with Mango
I have been known to eat chocolate cake and ice cream for breakfast and have made the statement that unless the dessert contains chocolate in some form, it is not worth eating. However, I have to admit that Sticky Rice with Mangos, often a dessert at Thai restaurants, is an exception I make to that rule.  The key to this delicious dessert is the Thai sticky rice, which is found in Asian grocery stores and ripe mangos.  You make the basic sticky rice first, and then add the sweetened coconut milk mixture.  My tasting partner and I were eating a bowl of sticky rice and mango the other day after dinner, and I said “I could eat this all day” and my tasting partner agreed.

 recipe after the jump

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake aka Creamed Walnut and Strawberry Tart

Creamed Walnut and Strawberry Tart


Since trying to follow a ‘vegan at home diet’, gone are the sumptuous cakes, cookies and wonderful pies that I've been known for.  Now, I only bake those forbidden items when one of our boys comes home, or any other time that I arbitrarily determine might warrant a celebration.  In all honesty, I already tried to eliminate high calorie desserts from our diet anyway, before we started the ‘vegan at home’ kick. But, I still have not lost my sweet tooth and I’m always looking for a good dessert: enter the ‘Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake’.
I will have to say that I take exception to the idea that this dessert is, in fact, a ‘cheesecake’.  In my mind, it is not.  A cheesecake is first and foremost, made with cheese, and the vegan cheesecake is not. 
I made this dessert recently when we were fortunate enough to have our youngest son home.  We had already celebrated his arrival home with a delicious layer cake (not vegan) and once that was gone, I thought about trying this recipe. 
While serving this to my tasting partner and son, I commented that this was NOT a cheesecake and while vegan aficionados might call it a cheesecake, I would not.  Our thoughtful son stated that by calling it a ‘cheesecake’ the vegan aficionados would understand what the recipe might yield- a crunchy crust with a creamy layer topped with a fruit layer.  Having just been selected to Law Review, he makes a valid and diplomatic point.  My tasting partner said he would not argue with me about anything food related and I could call it what I liked (smart move). I choose to call this a “Creamed Walnut and Strawberry Tart”. 
This tart is quite tasty and filling and my tasting partner and I both gave it two thumbs up. It does require some preparation time: soaking the walnuts for at least 3 hours and preferably longer. 

recipe after the jump

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Otsu: Cold Soba Noodle salad



Otsu


One of our boys, J, lives with a wonderful young woman, M, who passed on one of their favorite recipes, Otsu.  I will admit that I was reluctant to try this recipe at first because it has soba noodles, otherwise known as buckwheat noodles.  I had never tried soba noodles, so I was hesitant at first, but after preparing this recipe I can say it is a delightful noodle salad.  It has substance, a bit of a kick to it, and yet refreshing.  It is a great summer salad. This recipe is adapted from Pomelo restaurant in San Francisco and thanks to M for passing it on to me.  And yes, my tasting partner thought it was outstanding.

recipe after the jump

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Chickpeas Romesco

Chickpeas in Romesco Sauce
Back in the mid 1990’s, our family moved to Madrid, Spain for a year while my tasting partner was on sabbatical.  One of the most exciting aspects of that year was trying all the Spanish tapas and learning how to prepare them.  One of my favorite tapas, often served with toasted bread, was Romesco sauce - a tomato, nut and pepper based sauce from Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain.  I had not considered adding chickpeas to the sauce to make it a main course, served over rice, but when I saw this recipe in Veganomicon, I knew I had to try it.  The romesco sauce has that piquant taste that I remember from Spanish tapas bars, and my tasting partner said “delicioso” as he raised his glass of Rioja wine. 


recipe after the jump

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms and Vegetables on a Bun

Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Vegetables
Holidays are important to me, especially when family and friends are around.  Holidays are a chance to be creative in the kitchen and prepare more food than needed, as an offering of love to those partaking.  Long before it became fashionable to sit down and have a home made dinner every night with your children, we were doing that.  My tasting partner and I made it a point of having dinner with our children every night together, and as they grew up, we worked our schedules around theirs so the tradition continued.  It is important to us.  Memorial Day was fast approaching and none of our children were returning home, and I was recovering from a bad cold, so I really wasn't interested in inviting friends over, but it was a holiday and there should be grilling.  Since my tasting partner is still following the ‘vegan at home diet’, any grilling I might be doing would only be vegetables.  Pitiful, but true.  I ended up grilling a number of vegetables that I had marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and served them on a bun, along with coleslaw and baked yams.  It wasn't your traditional Memorial Day barbecue, but the Portobello mushroom and vegetable burger was delicious and will continue to be served throughout the summer grilling season.  My tasting partner is thrilled.

recipe after the jump

Friday, May 24, 2013

Braised Eggplant, Tofu Crumbles and Mushrooms

Braised Eggplant, Tofu Crumbles and Mushrooms

A couple of years back, our youngest son was in Beijing, China for a year, teaching English and my tasting partner and I had the opportunity to visit him.  The experience was amazing.  Thankfully, our son was able to read and speak some Mandarin because otherwise we would have been lost.  While we were there we had the opportunity to eat out in restaurants and small, local cafes which would often have more traditional meals like you might find in homes.  Because of that experience, I am more interested in traditional Chinese cooking and when I saw this recipe in Mark Bittman’s column in the New York Times Sunday magazine, I had to try it, with the obligatory conversion to make it acceptable to my tasting partner and his 'vegan at home diet'.  It is based on a recipe from the new book “The Hakka Cookbook” by Linda Lau Anusasananan.  I added vegetable crumbles in place of ground pork and to be honest, you could not tell the difference.  My tasting partner remarked on the rich aroma when he came home and had seconds at dinner.  I also served rice and sauteed Brussels sprouts and onions in olive oil.  An excellent meal, one my tasting partner hopes I repeat.

recipe after the jump

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mongolian Tofu

Mongolian Tofu and Roasted Broccoli with chili sauce

In discussing our ‘vegan at home diet’, most people assume we eat a lot of tofu or tempeh.  We don’t, mostly because I have this thing about tofu and tempeh.  It seems to be too processed, though my tasting partner says it is no more processed than cheese.  Hmmm, he might have a point.  I checked on line and there are web sites that explain how to make tofu at home and it is very similar to making cheese at home.  Okay, perhaps I need to give tofu another try.  So I did.  I  found a Mongolian beef recipe and substituted tofu as the protein, with some modifications.  My tasting partner said it smelled divine, and it was rich and flavorful over brown rice.  We will be enjoying this recipe again while we follow our ‘vegan at home diet’.

 recipe after the jump

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Shiitake and Baby Bok Choy Stir-fry

Shiitake and Baby Bok Choy Stir-fry

Growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, I was served simple, plain foods.  We always had meat, potato and some sort of frozen or canned vegetable.  Friday was fish sticks and Saturday was spaghetti.  Nothing fancy or exotic.  We had canned fruits, in heavy syrup, and there was always ice cream, chips and dip.  I don’t remember any fresh fruits or vegetables in the house except maybe some iceberg lettuce.  I don’t believe a mushroom was ever included in my folks cooking. In college, I started eating iceberg lettuce salads, sometimes adding a sprinkling of carrots and tomatoes but I certainly did not put mushrooms on my salad.  So imagine my surprise when a few months into our marriage (more than 30 years ago) my tasting partner asked me to buy sliced mushrooms for his salad.  What?  Mushrooms?

A few months later, at a holiday party, someone made stuffed mushrooms with the most beautiful, white mushrooms I had ever seen.  I tried one and it was delicious.  This was the beginning of my infatuation with mushrooms.  Now, since my tasting partner is demanding a ‘vegan at home diet’, I'm cooking with more varieties of mushrooms than ever before.

I found this recipe on a lovely site called “My New Roots”.  It's easy to make, and the shiitake mushrooms gives the dish a hearty, meaty taste. The maple syrup in the sauce adds just a touch of sweetness and my tasting partner says this recipe is a winner.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Raw Fudge or Brownie

Raw Fudge or Brownie



I love chocolate, and in particular I love good chocolate.  I also love a good brownie, a piece of fudge or a truffle, preferably without nuts because I like the mouth feel of smooth chocolate. As you might surmise, brownies and fudge are made with unacceptable foods on a vegan diet (dairy and eggs) and eating a piece of good chocolate can lead to consuming the entire bag. So what's a chocoholic to do?  Make a fake brownie from dates, nuts and cacao.  Now, I won’t pretend that it tastes like a decadent brownie, silky smooth piece of fudge or a heavenly truffle. It tastes like chocolate.  It has fiber and no added sugar and my tasting partner approves.

recipe after the jump

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spicy Tempeh with Broccoli Rabe and Fusilli

Spicy Tempeh with Broccoli Rabe and Fusilli

Our youngest son gave me a vegan cookbook for Christmas called Veganomicon by Moskowitz and Romero and I have been reluctant to look at the recipes because, well, they are vegan, and I am trying to avoid that word.  The two cookbooks I received from my middle son and his girlfriend (Plenty and Jerusalem by Ottolenghi) have a lot of vegetarian recipes, but they are not vegan.  Those cookbooks use dairy products and have some meat oriented dishes.  Veganomicon is vegan, pure and simple.  Recently, I decided to expand my vegan recipe repertoire from mostly rice, beans and quinoa to tempeh, so I decided to look at the recipes of Veganomicon and I was pleasantly surprised.  I made this spicy tempeh with broccoli rabe and fusilli (or rotelle) and it was good.  The only comment I would have is that I have found that my tasting partner and I, following the ‘vegan at home diet’, like our foods a little more spicy.  The flavors were delicate and a nice contrast- the crispness of the broccoli rabe, the chewy texture of the tempeh and the fusilli pasta, but it was lacking some oomph.  In the end, we added more balsamic vinegar to the dish and next time I would double the red pepper for more of a punch, but I really liked how the tempeh was steamed in the sauce and the picked up the flavors.  I hope to have more from Veganomicon in later posts.

Recipe after the jump

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Lentil and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Tahini (from A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield and Smitten Kitchen)

Lentil and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Tahini and baked yam



By now you know we have been following a ‘vegan at home’ diet and as a result, most of the web based recipe blogs that I read are now vegetable and vegan based.  One of my favorite blogs in the has been ‘SmittenKitchen’ by Deb Perelman and even though she cooks with meat, I still read her blog regularly and can often adapt her recipes to fit our diet.  This recipe is originally from April Bloomfield’s ' A Girl and Her Pig' but I found it on Smitten Kitchen.  I did make a slight change to the recipe.  I used all the toasted and ground spices even though the original recipe only calls for 1 teaspoon of the combined spices.  I have found with other recipes that I like bold spice flavors and often add more spice than called for.  With this recipe I bought new containers of both coriander and cumin seeds for the freshest flavors.  My tasting partner had an interesting reaction to this meal.  When he saw it plated up, he made a sad face and said ‘‘this is it?’’ and I was tempted to respond “yes, that’s what you get when you eat a vegan diet” but I didn't, I said nothing.  He then tasted it and said “wow, this is fabulous and the baked yam is a wonderful complement”.  I did serve this lentil and chickpea salad with a baked yam and it was delicious.  It does take time to prepare, but it is well worth the effort. 

recipe after the jump

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Buttermilk Biscuits




I love a good biscuit.  Warm, fluffy, tender and moist with a slab of butter melting on it; nothing beats a good homemade biscuit.  Of course, this type of food is normally not acceptable in the ‘vegan at home’ diet, but on special occasions (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter) one has to break the rules of the tasting partner and whip up a batch of the most delicious biscuits ever.  I have a long history of biscuits.  My mom, a Southern lady, made a good biscuit for our Sunday dinners, but every so often the biscuits would not rise and they were burnt, flat disappointments.  When I was a youngster, I seem to remember entering my biscuits in a 4H fair and receiving a blue ribbon, but no one is able to corroborate this memory.  Years passed, we started our family and time spent in the kitchen was at a premium.  Enter the canned, premade biscuit, which was good, but not a Biscuit.  After the boys had grown and I had more time to devote to passing food fancies, I discovered, after trial and error, Shirley Corriher’s Touch of Grace Biscuits (BakeWise). Delicious! 

Note:  The recipe calls for a low protein Southern U.S White Lily self-rising flour, which I can not find here in SoCal, but have had great success with Gold Medal Self Rising flour. Comparing the nutritional information, the White Lily self rising flour has 2 grams of protein per ¼ cup and the Gold Medal self rising flour has 3 grams of protein per ¼ cup, which is more, but does not appear to affect the outcome of the biscuit.

 recipe after the jump

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bean Chili

Bean Chili


Before my tasting partner went on the ‘vegan at home diet’, I would have a few ‘go to’ dinners that were quick and easy to throw together, especially when I would have a busy day: rotisserie chicken (purchased at the store) with a large green salad; salmon patties (frozen from a big box store) on buns with roasted potatoes, vegetables and a salad; prepared chicken salad (from that same big box store) and a salad or finally, a hamburger for me and a veggie patty for my tasting partner.  Obviously, those options are now out the door and I have had to come up with a quick, easy, yet tasty dinner that I could throw together when I am to tired to cook, like after doing the gardening all morning long.  And, it has to be filling, since we no longer have cakes and cookies around, just waiting to be eaten.  Enter Lowery’s Chili Mix made with canned beans and diced canned tomatoes.  Easy to put together, and yes, I am using canned beans.  You can modify the beans you use to your liking but my tasting partner and I are happy with this combination.  A side note, on the Lowry’s package, the list of ingredients does include ‘cocoa powder’ at the very end, which is why this chili has a great depth of flavor, but it is important for those people who are avoiding caffeine.

recipe after the jump

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bean Tacos Revisited

Black Bean Tacos

This is a brief comment about heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo .  I received a thoughtful gift consisting of a year of beans from Rancho Gordo from my middle son and his lovely partner.  I used the black beans included in a recent package to make my black bean tacos.  I think they were black Rio Zape beans, but I can not find them on the web site and I threw out the packaging (oops).   All I know is that the beans were delicious in the tacos, plump and chewy.  It is amazing the difference in heirloom beans compared to dried beans purchased at your local market, well worth the money spent.  Thank you again to for J and M for introducing Rancho Gordo beans to me and my tasting partner.



Saturday, February 23, 2013

Date bars



Date Bars

I have a sweet tooth.  I grew up eating cake for breakfast, cookies and ice cream for dinner and chocolate in between.  Despite my horrible diet growing up, I ended up studying Food and Nutrition in college, and became a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s degree in Nutrition.  I still like sweets, but I try to balance it with good, real food.   When our boys were growing up, I always had some sort of dessert, usually cookies or cake, and even now, when they come home to visit, a cake is waiting.  Is there any other way to celebrate than with a home made cake?  The boys, however, seem to have MUCH better control than me when it comes to sweets.  Our oldest son does not eat chocolate, our middle son says most sweets ‘make his teeth hurt’ and our youngest son has so much control over eating sweets that he still has Easter candy at Halloween and Halloween candy at Easter.  Even now, when I send a ‘care package’ the cookies and candies are rationed out like we are in the midst of a famine.  Where did these children come from?  So recently, I was rattling around the kitchen, just itching to make some cupcakes, or brownies or a cake, and my tasting partner said no.  No, we don't need that in the house.  Well, I still needed some sort of sweet, and I hit upon these date bars.  I usually have medjool dates around for snacks and oatmeal is a whole grain, so date bars have to be healthy, right?  My tasting partner thinks these are an acceptable snack and they are almost as good as a chocolate chip cookie, but not quite.

recipe after the jump

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chana Masala

Chana Masala


Before my tasting partner started on his ‘vegan diet at home’ kick, I would make a vegetarian dinner at least 2 to 3 times a week, often using beans.  Garbanzo beans, also known as chick peas, are a favorite of mine, and I am always looking for a new and exciting ways to serve them.  I have been making this dish for a number of years now, and I now include it in our 'vegan diet at home' diet on a regular basis.  Chana Masala is a popular Punjabi dish in Pakistani and Northern Indian cuisine.  In my version, I make it with more tomatoes, and it results in a saucier or soupier version.  Also, I don’t have amchoor powder, which is made from unripe mangoes and is sour in taste, so I substituted lemon zest and lemon juice.  My tasting partner and I think this dish is a hit.

Recipe after the jump

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Peanut butter cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

I would never have considered making peanut butter cookies, but my tasting partner has been eating a lot of peanut butter lately, all natural, just peanuts and a little salt.  I was trying to think of ways to incorporate peanut butter into our diet and naturally thought of cookies.  These cookies are crisp on the outside and smooth on the inside, almost creamy.  My tasting partner and I both agree that these cookies are outstanding, and self control is needed in order not to over indulge. 

A side note.  When ever I make cookies, I always scoop them onto a silpat lined cookie sheet and then put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and usually over night, to ‘set back up’.  I have all the cookie dough balls on one sheet, and then, when I am going to bake them off, I preheat the oven and move the cookie dough balls around, using at least 2 cookie sheets, to space them out for cooking.

recipe after the jump

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cauliflower Potato Leek Soup

Cauliflower Potato Leek Soup


It has been pretty chilly here in SoCal, and we have been eating more soups as a result.  I wanted to make a potato leek soup for dinner one night, but knew my tasting partner would look at a potato soup despairingly wondering where the vegetables were.  On a side note, I am of the opinion, given my Irish Scottish background, that the potato is a complete food and no meal is complete without potatoes.  However, in order to keep the peace at our dinner table, I added cauliflower to the soup mixture and was thrilled with the results.  I hope you are too.

Recipe after the jump

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Black-eyed Pea Salad

Black Eyed Peas salad

When I was growing up, my mother, who is from Virginia, always cooked black eyed peas on New Year’s Day, for good luck, and she still does to this day.  This is a Southern tradition dating back to the Civil War: In the Southern United States, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity in the New Year.  The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman's troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.  I personally never liked them because as far as I could tell, she merely boiled a bag of frozen black eyed peas and served them on New Year’s Day.  They tasted gummy and starchy.  After I married and moved to Southern California with my tasting partner, I realized I did not have any black eyed peas for the New Year.  I ran around looking for black eyed peas to serve in order to keep the tradition going and in case they did bring good luck, I certainly did not want to miss out.  I found only a bag of frozen peas, and of course, the peas tasted gummy and starchy.  It took a number of years before I found a good black eyed pea recipe, but I finally found one and modified it and have used every year since.  It tastes better the next day, so I try to make it on December 31 for the best flavor.

recipe after the jump