Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Banana Mango Spicy Smoothie




Craving a healthy snack to get you through the afternoon?  Or maybe just a light, healthy breakfast to get you started in the morning? This smoothie will fit the bill.  I owe the idea of adding nutmeg and allspice to a smoothie to my son, who has spent many hours experimenting with various flavor combinations in his concoctions.  Freshly grating a whole nutmeg is way better than shaking dried nutmeg from a spice jar.  It's really not a big deal to do, so I encourage you to go buy a whole nutmeg if you haven't tried it.  If you don't have a nutmeg grater, use the grater with the finest, smallest holes that you have in your kitchen.  The fruit in this smoothie provides all the sweetness you need--you do not need to add sugar, honey or any other sweetener!

1 apple, core removed
1 banana, peeled
4 ice cubes
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 tsp vanilla
30 seconds of grating fresh nutmeg (go back and forth with a whole nutmeg on a grater while counting to 30)
1/8 tsp allspice
1 TBS flaxseed oil

Blend all together until smooth.


Makes 1 tall glass smoothie, possibly with a little leftover.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Vegetarian Moussaka


I love moussaka, but it usually has ground meat in it.  I wanted to see if I could capture the special flavors of moussaka in a vegetarian version.  I took a recipe that I used to use, before I cut meat from my diet, and tweaked it a little, mainly substituting mushrooms for the meat! While I combined cremini and shiitake mushrooms, I think any mixture of various mushrooms would be good.  Here is my version, which I think is quite delicious. I don't miss the meat at all.

2 eggplants, cut into cubes
extra virgin olive oil
salt
1 1/5 lbs. cremini mushrooms, sliced 
1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. oregano
26.5 oz. chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
6 eggs, beaten

Toss eggplant with olive oil and salt and roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, tossing occasionally while roasting. Use the convection roast setting if available on your oven. Eggplant should be golden brown but not burnt.

Meanwhile, sauté onions over medium high heat in more olive oil until translucent.  Lower heat, add garlic and toss for a few seconds (do not burn the garlic).  Add mushrooms, more olive oil, thyme and salt.   Saute until mushrooms are tender, tossing occasionally so that everything gets mixed together and cooked evenly.  Add cinnamon and chopped tomatoes.  Simmer for about a half hour.  Stir in 1 cup parmigiano just before assembling the moussaka in a baking dish.

Beat eggs in mixing bowl and set aside.  In a large saute pan, melt butter.  Stir in flour and cook for a few minutes, continually stirring.  Slowly whisk in milk, continuing to stir.  Cook until thickened while continuously stirring.  Add salt, nutmeg and 1/2 cup grated parmigiano.  Scoop out about a cup of this sauce and whisk it into the eggs, then whisk the beaten eggs into the sauce and continue to cook while whisking until sauce is thick and smooth.  Remove from heat.

To assemble, coat a 13" x 9" baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread half of eggplant evenly over bottom of dish.  Next pour the mushroom-tomato mixture on top of that and spread evenly.  Put remaining eggplant over that, then pour the creamy egg sauce over that (you might have too much sauce; if so save it to use on another baked vegetable dish later). Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, until topping is light golden brown. 

Makes about 12 servings.





Saturday, January 5, 2019

Tofu Shawarma

This is a great recipe that is sure to please.  It is also a quick and easy dinner (except for pressing the tofu, but you could skip this step if necessary; the tofu will just break apart more).
Inspiration came from epicurious.com, which published a recipe for chicken shawarma that my husband loves.  Since I don't eat chicken, I wanted to see if I could substitute tofu with good results.  The results are more than good, they are excellent!  If you have a combination of carnivores and vegetarians at the table, you could make the baked tofu for the vegetarians and use a duplicate spice mixture with diced chicken for the meat eaters (bake on a separate cookie sheet for the same amount of time in the same oven). You can make the yogurt tahini sauce ahead of time, if you like.  If you make everything at the same time, start with preheating the oven and let the tofu sit in the spice mixture for the longest possible amount of time, while you mix the other items together.

Yogurt Tahini Sauce:

1 cup yogurt
1 TBS tahini
1 clove garlic, pressed
Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
2 TBS lemon juice
Handful of fresh dill, chopped (about 2 TBS)
Handful of fresh mint, chopped (about 2 TBS)

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Tofu:

1 lb. extra firm tofu, pressed
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. To press tofu, put block of tofu on top of several layers of paper towels on a plate. Lay several layers of paper towels folded on top of tofu, then place something heavy, such as a cutting board or some canned goods on top of a plate, on top of that. Leave for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Cut tofu into 1”-2” cubes.

Mix other ingredients in a bowl.  Add tofu cubes and gently toss to coat all sides of each cube with spice mixture.  Let sit for about 15 minutes (or longer is even better).

Bake tofu cubes on greased cookie sheet for 15 minutes.

Pita Bread:

8 small pita bread pockets

Wrap pita in foil and warm in oven with baking tofu for 5-10 minutes.

Salad:

2 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 cucumber or 1/2 English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, then quartered lengthwise, then cut into 1/4”-1/2” slices
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup sliced or chopped red onion
2 cups baby salad greens or chopped lettuce


Toss all salad ingredients together, then sprinkle with salt and pepper, preferably freshly ground, and toss again.
To serve, cut pita in half, fill each half with tofu cubes, salad and yogurt tahini sauce.


Serves 4.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Quinoa Salad


The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warning about the necessity of making rapid changes in order to prevent catastrophic effects of global climate change is sobering.  It is also frustrating, as an individual, to lack control of many elements contributing to climate change.  One thing we can control is how and what we eat.  Agricultural practices relating to meat production lead to large amounts of carbon emissions.  One big reason is because the earth cannot absorb all the animal waste concentrated on large farms.  By eating less meat we reduce the demand for large scale animal farming and create a higher demand for plant production.  These actions, if taken by many people, can have a positive impact on carbon emissions.  That is what I am trying to help along with this blog, by providing ideas for people to prepare meals using less meat.

Quinoa is a high protein grain that can act as the base for a vegetarian entree because it is filling and nutritious.  When cooking quinoa, always rinse it first in a fine mesh strainer, as this will remove some of the bitter coating.  I find that, in salads, quinoa tastes best when combined with some ingredients which have natural sweetness, such as fruit.  This salad is hearty enough to act as a main course, but you could also use it as a side dish.




2-3 cups cooked quinoa (I used leftovers--if making fresh, use 3/4 or 1 cup dried quinoa and cook according to package instructions)
½ yellow pepper, diced
2 scallions, diced
½ orange, pith removed and sections cut into smaller bite-sized pieces
1 avocado, diced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 TBS fresh Italian parsley, chopped
approximately ½ cup peeled diced jicama
½ cup toasted pine nuts

Dressing:
1 small shallot, chopped
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground coriander (preferably freshly ground)
freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup orange Muscat champagne vinegar (I use Trader Joe’s)

Toss all salad ingredients together.  Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over salad and mix everything up together.  Serves 2-3 as main course.

Note:  to toast pine nuts, place in dry cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring, until nuts just begin to turn brown, about 5 minutes or so.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Langostino Tails and Vegetables in Creamy White Wine Sauce Over Pasta

I picked up some frozen langostino tails from Trader Joe's, which are sourced from Chile and already cooked, because I thought they would be good to have on hand for a quick and easy meal.  Langostino sourced from Chile is relatively sustainable due to the Chilean government's strict oversight of its fisheries to prevent overfishing. This is a quick and tasty sauce to serve over pasta, and includes local veggies (in my case the mushrooms, green beans, shallots and tomatoes were farmed locally).

1 garlic clove
1 shallot
1 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 1/2 cup green beans, cut into 1" pieces
1 tomato, diced
1 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
12 oz. cooked langostino tails
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1 lb. pasta, cooked


Chop together garlic clove and shallot. Saute in butter and olive oil over low heat. Stir in mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, then add green beans and tomatoes and continue to cook and stir.

Add white wine and cook until wine is reduced by half.  Add heavy cream and cook, stirring occasionally,  until thick, about 20 minutes.  Add langostino tails and cook until heated through, about two minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over pasta. Garnish with chopped parsley.  Serves 4.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Baked Stuffed Eggplant with Ginger and Mushrooms

Although summer has passed, local farmers are still producing lots of nice vegetables.  This recipe uses several items I bought from local farmers:  eggplants, onions, sweet peppers, and wild mushrooms.  By supporting local farms, you can have a positive impact on your local economy and on the overall environment.  Local farms tend to have a less negative impact on the planet than large industrial farms that supply most of our grocery stores.  By supporting farmers who live close by, you encourage their existence and reduce our dependence on large industrial farms that pollute the environment more.  Your food will likely taste better, too!



2 small eggplants, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 cup dry brown rice (or 1-2 cups of cooked rice, perhaps leftover from a previous meal)
grapeseed oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 sweet pepper, diced
1 cup chopped wild mushrooms
1 TBS finely chopped ginger
1 TBS soy sauce
2 TBS mirin
1 tsp ume plum vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sugar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Oil baking sheet and put eggplant halves face down on it. Pour 1/4 cup sherry over eggplant halves.  Cover baking sheet with foil, sealing tightly around edges.  Bake for 45-60 minutes.

Cook rice according to package instructions. (You could also use 1-2 cups of leftover rice, instead of cooking fresh rice.)

Meanwhile, heat grapeseed oil in 10" frying pan.  Saute onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to become translucent.  Add garlic and continue to stir for a minute or two.  Stir in diced peppers, then mushrooms, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften. Stir in ginger and cook for a few minutes.  Turn off stove until rice and eggplant are cooked.  Mix soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar together in small bowl or cup and set aside.

When rice and eggplant are cooked, scoop out eggplant flesh from shells and add to vegetables in frying pan.  Stir in rice and mix all together.  Add soy sauce mixture and stir until everything is combined. Spoon mixture into eggplant shell halves.  There might be some mixture leftover that will not fit in shells.  (You can eat the leftover mixture as is or try stuffing another scooped out vegetable--such as any kind of squash or bell pepper-- for lunch tomorrow!)

Put stuffed eggplant halves on same baking sheet back into oven and heat for 5-10 minutes.  Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.  Serves 2 as main course or 4 as side dish.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Big Pot of Black Bean Soup

By using a slow cooker to cook the dried black beans for this soup, you can spend 5 minutes in the morning getting it going, then finish it off just before dinnertime without too much trouble.  It took me about a half hour or so to chop the vegetables and get everything into the pot, then another half hour or so to cook while I cleaned up and did other stuff around the kitchen.  Pretty easy! This makes a big pot of soup, about 6 quarts, which is enough to share with friends or a big family, or to last a small family all week long! It is hearty and flavorful, a bit spicy but not really hot spicy. Environmentally friendly because 
a) no meat
b) you are using dried beans instead of canned (less garbage, fewer resources used to produce the food) 

First, cook the black beans, starting in the morning.  This will only take about 5 minutes, so do not be intimidated! 

Combine in 6 qt or larger slow cooker:
5 cups dried black beans (no need to soak them!)
½ large yellow onion, peeled but not cut up
1 piece dried kombu
1 garlic clove, whole
1 tsp ground chipotle pepper or 1 whole dried chipotle pepper
water to cover all, leave a couple inches at top per slow cooker manufacturer instructions to allow optimal slow cooking


Cook on low temperature for 8-10 hours.

Then, in the evening, drain beans, discarding the onion, garlic clove and kombu that flavored them.

extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ large yellow onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, pressed
26.5 oz. container chopped tomatoes (I like the kind in cartons, rather than cans)
4 cups water
1 ½ tsp salt
1 TBS dried oregano
1 TBS ground cumin
Chopped cilantro and sour cream or cashew cream to garnish

In large pot (at least 6 quarts, bigger is better), sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until translucent, then reduce heat to low, stir in celery, carrots, green pepper and garlic and sauté a few minutes more.  Add drained beans, tomatoes, water, and spices to pot.  Stir everything together.  Cover and raise heat to bring contents to a simmer.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes (or more makes flavors blend even better). Puree with stick blender. Garnish with chopped cilantro and sour cream or cashew cream. Makes about 6 quarts, enough for a crowd.