Thursday, June 30, 2011

Low Fat Veggie Lasagna

I love making homemade pasta sauce. If you don't have the time, you can use your own premade sauce of choice, and add in the extra ingredients from my sauce (such as artichoke hearts and kalamata olives) directly to the lasagna.

Mama Garrett's Favorite Pasta Sauce

2 cans stewed tomatoes
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup of artichoke hearts
1/4 cup of chopped kalamata olives, or other olive of choice

Saute the onion and bell pepper until soft, about five minutes. Add the garlic and seasoning, and continue to cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Then add the stewed tomatoes, artichoke hearts and olives. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.


1 box "no boil" lasagna noodles
1 16. oz container of non-fat ricotta cheese
2 large balls of low-fat mozzarella cheese in water
1 cup of zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
parmesan and parsley, to garnish

Coat the bottom of a large casserole dish with sauce and top this with your first layer of noodles. From here  the layering goes like this:

ricotta, smooshed in with fork
zucchini slices
sparingly top with mozzarella slices

I got about 3 layers or so. When you've filled your dish, top with noodles, sauce and sliced fresh tomato. Lastly, top with mozzarella and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, or until bubbly. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Italian Arugula and Potato Soup

Perhaps it's because summertime in our part of the world is synonymous with endless fog, that I've been feeling so soupy lately. This one is a simple peasant soup, which reminded my husband of the potato soup his mom used to make when he was a kid. It must have been good, the kids ate it up, with seconds and thirds all around!


2 pounds white potatoes, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
2 medium carrots, diced
4 ounces (or about 3 cups) arugula, spinach or other green leafy vegetable
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 loaf stale ciabatta bread, diced into 1 inch cubes (I happened to have this on hand already, but if not, you can toast the chunks in the oven prior to making the soup)
4 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
hot sauce, for serving

Saute, in a large pot, the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add in the potatoes, stock and seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Then add in the carrots and cook another 15 minutes. Then remove from heat.

Add in the bread and arugula and cover, let sit for another 5 minutes. Serve with hot sauce on the side, for the grownups who like it spicy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Artichoke Bruschetta

The perfect snack for our potluck this week to celebrate the official start of summer (even though here in Monterey it's perpetually foggy...hello? Sun? We miss you). It's best served at room temperature.


1  jar (6 oz.) of marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1 tomato, chopped and seeded
1/3 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup shredded romano cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped greens (I used a spinach/spring mix)
1 garlic clove, minced
4-5 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 large baguette, sliced diagonally into about 20 or 30 slices

shredded romano cheese

In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients (except the bread). Top the slices with the artichoke mixture and broil for about 3 minutes, or until the edges of the bread are browned. Cool for about 5 minutes. Then top with a large shaving of romano cheese and a fresh piece of arugula.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Red Lentil Soup

I've been on a soup kick lately, inspired by a cookbook my mother gave me years ago, that I've only just begun to appreciate, called The Soup Bible. This variation can be found there, although I've tweaked it a bit, because you know, I just can't ever leave a recipe alone!

 My kids love, love, love lentil soup and it is so easy to make.

1.5 cups red lentils
2 onions, minced
1 carrot, chopped
2 minced cloves of garlic
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
a 1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
4 cups vegetable stock, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion, carrot, celery, garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, lentils, bay leaves, spices and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for about an hour to an hour and a half. Add more stock, as needed, if it gets too thick, and stir occasionally to keep the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Remove the bay leaves and add the vinegar, salt and pepper. Garnish with lemons, sour cream or parsley.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Asparagus and Potato Chowder

Let me preface this post with a caution: There is no photo on earth that could do this recipe justice. It was "the best soup I've had in a long time" according to the Mister.

I use two methods to make vegetarian and vegan soups thick (not liking to use cream, myself).
1. Make a roux
2. Blend 1/4 of the soup in the blender before serving

It really does make a difference, and I usually use both methods in the same soup, although the blender is the most successful, the roux adds a bit of flavor.

Let's Dive In!


2 cups diced red potatoes
1 pound fresh asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 or 6 cups of vegetable broth
1.5 cups of plain soymilk
1 to 1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup of butter or substitute
4 tbsp. flour
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp sage (or two leaves fresh)
1 cup finely shredded cheese of your choice (optional)
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke  (optional)

Saute the onion, celery and garlic in a large pot, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the broth, soymilk, salt, pepper, asparagus, potatoes, and herbs and bring to a simmer.

Roux: In a skillet, melt the butter and then add in your flour, mixing with a spoon or whisk until the flour is incorporated and no chunks are left. Be careful to do this  over low heat and not to burn. (You cannot just add the raw/cold flour to the soup, it will only result in lumpy clumps of flour.) Add the roux to the soup, and the liquid smoke, if using.

Continue to simmer the soup until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Then transfer, carefully, about 1/4 of the soup into a blender and puree until smooth. Add this back into the soup, mixing well.

If you want to add cheese, do so now, and cook another two minutes, stirring constantly.

Viola! Asparagus Chowder!

We served ours with a fresh garlic baguette from the local bakery. Heaven.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Asparagus Quiche with Potato Crust and Grilled Romaine

Savory and filling without being heavy, this quiche uses no pastry crust, no butter, no added milk (aside from what's in the cheese). I love this crust so much I may never make another quiche with pastry again!

about 6 red potatoes, thinly sliced
7 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup veggie broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
a handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
a handful of shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
about 6 or 7 asparagus spears, whole
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a brush, coat the bottom of a pie pan with olive oil and cover the bottom and sides of the pan with the sliced potato.

Meanwhile, saute your onion until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add to the eggs: the cheeses, tomatoes, salt, pepper, onion, broth and spices, mix well.

Pour the egg mix on top of the potatoes and arrange the asparagus in a swirl on top of the egg mix. Sprinkle with a bit more cheese.

 Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the top feels springy (bounces back when pushed on), about 45 minutes or so.

Now. Grilled Romaine. Yup, that's right, I said it, cooked lettuce. The husband was skeptical of course, but it ended up tasting like a very healthy version of a Caesar salad. 

I waited until the quiche was about 10 minutes from being done, halved the romaine, brushed it with olive oil and baked it, directly on the rack, at 350 for about 5 minutes each side. Then simply drizzle with a bit more olive oil, a tsp of apple cider vinegar, sprinkle salt and pepper and top with parmesan.

We decided it was better eaten when cooled, rather than hot. There was so much left over, I can't wait to see how the romaine will taste tomorrow, straight out of the fridge! Will it still be good? We'll find out!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vegan Flour Tortillas-Lard Free

Sundays for me usually entail cleaning and cooking adventures. Today: Tortillas. I never knew homemade tortillas were so easy to make! Just set aside about 45 minutes and you've got homemade goodness.

A little thicker than the store bought variety, but so much more substance! I imagine myself trying out all kind of ideas in the future, like adding spices to make flavored tortillas!

2 cups flour
3/4 cup warm veggie broth
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp. vegetable oil

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil. Add in the broth and stir until it forms a ball. Remove and knead the ball on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.

Then place the ball in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rest for 20 minutes.

After the time is up, divide dough into 6 or so balls and place them on a plate (not touching each other). Again, cover with a damp cloth. Let rest another 10 minutes.

One at a time, place a ball on the floured surface and flatten with your hand into a circle. Roll with a rolling pin until very thin, about 8 inches wide.  Place the tortilla-to-be on a hot, un-oiled cast iron skillet and cook for about 30 seconds per side.

The tortillas get bubbly as they cook, this is a good indicator it's time to turn them!

Keep warm by placing them on a cloth covered plate and covering with a dry towel, until ready to eat.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Apple Fauxsages, Roasted Veggies and Herbed Kale with Grilled Onion and Shrooms

As usually happens, I go through several ideas before settling on what to make for dinner every night. If I'm lucky I have an idea to start with. Today I was going  to make enchiladas, but lo and behold: no tortillas! But in the process of looking for a recipe for those doomed enchiladas, I stumbled across a recipe for apple faux-sausage and just so happened to have everything on hand! I've made wheat-meat before, but never sausages. It turns out this was fairly simple, quite yummy and cheaper than the store bought versions!

The recipe itself is pretty simple but do give yourself an hour or so, as they take some time to cook!

Apple Fauxsages

1/2 cup pinto beans
1 cup cold broth
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 small apple, diced finely
1.5 cups wheat gluten
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp steak seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tbsp soy sauce

Mash the beans in a large bowl and add all of the other ingredients. Mix well. Then divide the dough into 6 parts and place on a square of foil, molding into little sausage shapes. Wrap the log up in foil, twisting at the ends. Steam for 45 minutes, or until firm. Then unwrap and grill or brown the sausages in a pan.

The sides: Roasted Beets and Acorn Squash

My husband has never had cooked beets before, so I decided to roast up a few and see how the natives liked it. The results: 3 out of 5 thought it was "YUM!" The other 2 are decidedly not fans of this deep red root vegetable. Me? I'm definately a die hard beet lover!

3 beets
1 acorn squash
olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the tops of of your beets and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 20 minutes. Meanwhile:

 Slice the acorn squash in half and brush with olive oil. Salt and pepper the inside of the acorn squash. After the beets have cooked for 20 minutes, place the acorn squash face down on the cookie sheet and cook them all (beets and acorn squash) for about 35 minutes. (So about an hour for the beets total, while the acorn squash only cook for 1/2 that.)

Next: The Kale

My husand is slowly becoming a kale-aholic. Neither of us were raised eating cooked greens and maybe this has helped in some way, since we never developed an aversion to them as children.

1/2 onion, diced
about 6 mushrooms
1 clove of garlic, chopped
3 cups kale
1 handful of fresh herbs

Saute the onion and mushrooms until browned, then toss in the kale, garlic and herbs and continue to cook until desired done-ness (We like our greens slightly less-cooked than traditional, but preference is key here!)

And the plate:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Vegetable Tamale Pie and Garlicky Kale

Today's recipe comes in two versions for your culinary pleasure: one vegetarian, and one vegan.

I recently was a guest at a dinner that served tamale pie. It looked so good, and I've been wanting to make one for so long, that I finally got off my keester and began to look up recipes. Little did I know what I was getting myself into!

I guess there is some tamale war out there in blogosphere, on how exactly to make the right tamale pie. Do you put the masa on the bottom? The top? Bottom and top? Do you use corn flour, masa, or polenta? Not being the purist, I tend to cook with what I have on hand. So I'm offering my recipe as I made it, with notes on other options you might try.

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups masa flour (or polenta, or corn flour, but skip baking powder if using polenta)
1.5 tbsp fat (butter, vegetable oil, etc)
1 cup water or stock
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp each cumin and chili powder

Mix this all up until blended. It should be thick like play-doh, not runny. Press into the bottom of an 8x8 or 9x9 pan.

For the middle:
2 cups cooked pinto or black beans
1 15 ounce can of diced or stewed tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup of salsa or green sauce
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup of sauteed onion and zucchini, corn, peppers...whatever you have on hand!

In a large bowl mix and roughly smash (not too much!) the above ingredients. Spread this on top of your masa in the pan.

For the topping:
Vegetarian: 1-2 cups of cheese
Vegan: Another layer of masa! Make up another batch and spread or drop it by the tablespoon on top of the filling.

Bake at 375 until the middle is bubbly and the masa is set, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

While it's cooling, make your Garlicky Cumin-Scented Kale:
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups kale, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin

Heat some olive oil in a pot, and saute your garlic and spices for about 1 minute, or until they are fragrant. Add in your kale and toss to coat. Put a lid on the pot and cook until your kale is as desired. For crisper greens, cook just a few minutes, or longer for more tender greens.

Serve with chopped green onions and salsa.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hooray for Hummus!

One thing I get asked a lot, particularly from my carnivorous friends and family, is how I find the time to cook the things I cook.

This question always kind of leaves me without an answer. I guess, like most things, we make time for the things that are important to us. For me, it's cooking, creating, and avoiding highly processed foods. There's a kind of satisfaction to be found in watching all these yummy ingredients come together, don't you think? And it seems to me that cooking from scratch really doesn't take any time at all, certainly about as long as it would take for pizza delivery or to heat up a frozen lasagna. All in all, I would say I never spend more than about 40 minutes making dinner. Less time than it takes to watch Grey's Anatomy :)

So today: hummus! I almost feel silly posting such a simple recipe, because most people I know make their own hummus as well. But maybe someone will find it useful?

This is my basic recipe. From here you can get all kinds of crazy, trying different ingredients like roasted bell peppers, spices or herbs...the sky's the limit!

A note on tahini--I didn't always use it in my recipe, so if you don't have it, don't worry about it. Just add a little extra olive oil for texture.

1 cup garbanzo beans (canned or sprouted)
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp tahini
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic (more if you like it SPICY!)
a big bunch of parsley or cilantro
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Mix it all up in the food processor. You can adjust liquid to make it more creamy or more chunky. Enjoy on crackers, with veggies, your favorite sammie or, my husband's favorite: on rice cakes (and usually for breakfast).