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Thursday, December 27, 2012

African Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup (Am I a Vegetarian?)

I love documentaries and I love to cook, therefore, I watch many "food" documentaries.  Yesterday, I watched "Vegucated".  If you really love being a carnivore do not watch this documentary!!!!  I was so disturbed that afterward, watching Joe and Jack dine on turkey leftovers made me feel ill!  I had a meat aversion when I was pregnant with Jack and I think I've developed that aversion again after viewing the documentary.

So, here we go on a new culinary adventure.  I know it's going to be vegetarian and may lean heavily toward vegan.  I know any dairy or eggs consumed in my house from here on out will be from our local farms...if we do eggs and dairy.  Jack wanted to know if I would ever have a steak again.  Right now, I cannot imagine that I will.  I simply cannot rectify what our meat and dairy industries do to animals to feed us products that aren't necessarily good for us.  Jack and Joe may not join me in this journey and that's ok.

Tonight I made my first consciously vegan meal.  We've always done alot of veggie dinners, soups, casseroles but never because we felt it was a kinder way to live.  I searched the internet for vegan recipes and this soup caught my attention.  I looked at many different recipes and combined them into the following recipe.

African Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T minced fresh ginger
2.5 lbs peeled cubed sweet potatoes
2 medium carrots, sliced thinly
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained of juice
3 vegetable bouillon cubes
4.5 cups water
1/2 t cayenne pepper
dash ground cloves
1.5 t cumin
1.5 t ground coriander seed
2 t salt
6 T peanut butter
2 T canola or olive oil

Add oil to large soup pot over med-high heat.
Add diced onions and cook for about 10 minutes.
Add ginger, garlic, cloves, salt, cayenne, cumin, coriander and mix well.
Stir in sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
Add water and bouillon cubes; cover and cook for 30 minutes on med heat.
Use and immersion blender to blend the soup to a consistency of your liking.
Serve with crusty bread and earth balance buttery spread. :-)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Accidental Vegetarian Split Pea Potato Soup

Jack loves split pea soup and I had promised him some this weekend.  I started the water,  threw in the peas and went to find the ham bone that I knew was in my freezer.  Or, umm, I thought was in my freezer.

Ok, so, the peas are in the water, so what will we make?  I saw a sweet potato and split pea soup recipe recently and I had some sweet  and white potatoes, so we combined split pea soup and potato soup and here is what we came up with.

Anytime I make soup, I try to use whatever is in the fridge.  I just happened to have some collard greens that looked to good to pass up at the farm down the road. I ended up throwing those in too.

Jack requested that I write the recipe down because it was so good!  Not sure WHY he'd think I'd need to write it down? :-)

  • 15 cups water
  • 3 cups dry split peas
  • 1 cup barley uncooked
  • 1.5 onions, chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 2 white potato, diced
  • 8 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground celery seed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch collard greens chopped (you could use frozen, and you could use spinach, kale, chard)
  • Sour cream and cheddar cheese to top
Fill a large soup pot with the water and split peas and bring to a boil. 
Turn down to a low boil and cook for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the onion,  potatoes, celery and herbs and spices, and continue to cook at a medium boil for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally. 
Add water if you need to depending on how thick you want your soup.  
Finally add in the collard greens and cook for about 10-15 minutes. 
 If you want this soup smoother, use an immersion blender.
Top with shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream.  
You'll be glad this makes a BUNCH of soup!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini with Garlic Anchovy Dressing

I know, I know, you think you don't like anchovies.  I have served this to numerous folks who thought the same, I just didn't tell them what was in the dressing.  This is a household favorite and may be solely responsible for Jack loving grilled eggplant!  You should try it!

When I grill veggies, I grill them naked, with absolutely nothing on them.  Simply slice the eggplant and zucchini any way you would like and grill.  Dress with the garlic anchovy dressing directly before won't go back!

The garlic anchovy dressing is called Acciugata Di Renato and is from the Extra Virgin cooking show website;  I'm copying it here because Jack will want this recipe someday and we don't want to lose it!

Dressing Ingredients:
1 clove garlic, crushed
5 T olive oil
2 T water
2 anchovies
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 T capers

In a skillet, mix together the garlic, oil and water and cook on a low flame.
Do not brown the garlic.
Add the anchovies.
Add parsley, capers, salt and pepper; Serve over grilled vegetables.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mean Ol' Uncy Greg's Minuteman Fritatta

Our friend Greg made this for us during our vacation and Jack LOVED it!  This is good news, because, like me, Jack isn't a great fan of usual breakfast foods.  I made a few variations based on what was on-hand.  The best part is that Greg shared that after this casserole sets up, you can cut it and serve it in squares, as he did for one of his NE Patriot Minutemen gigs.  The Minutemen loved it and so did we!  It's a winner!  Thanks for sharing Greg!

10 eggs
1/2 c skim milk
1 c. sharp cheddar grated
1/2 c. Parmesan grated
1 8 oz container button mushrooms, sliced
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 lb cooked bacon
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cans drained, squeezed spinach (you could use fresh, or cooked frozen here)
2 9 x 11 glass baking dishes

1.  Place sliced bacon on cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove bacon from cookie sheet  Pat oil from bacon and set aside.
2.  Dice onion and slice mushrooms and saute in 1 tsp canola oil until mushrooms have released their moisture. Set aside.
3.  Crack 10 eggs into a large bowl and whisk.
4. Add milk to egg mixture and whisk.  Now is a good time to salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add onion, mushroom mixture and cheeses to egg mixture and mix well.
6. Spray each glass baking dish with cooking spray.
7. Layer 1.5 cups of cooked brown rice in the bottom of each pan and use a spatula to make a flat, even surface.
8. Layer 1 cup of cooked quinoa on top of the rice in each pan and use a spatula to make a flat, even surface.
9. Place a layer of spinach over the layer of cooked quinoa.
10.  Layer bacon pieces on top of spinach.
11.  Pour the egg, cheese, and milk mixture evenly over each pan.  You want to see the egg on top of the bacon, mostly covering it.  If you need more, simply whisk a few more eggs with a little milk and reapply.
12. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
13.  Allow to cool and set up.
14.  Cut into portion size pieces for easy, way out of the door, breakfast or a quick lunch.
15.  I'm going to freeze some and see how that goes;  I'll let you know!.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cindy's Raspberry Chicken

This recipe comes from my dear friend, Cindy Wolodkin.  I would have never tried chicken and fruit...I'm so glad she made it for me years ago;  It's now a family favorite!

  1. 4  Whole, boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
  2. 4 Tbl. Butter 
  3. 1/2 cup Finely chopped onions 
  4. 1/2 cup Raspberry vinegar (I've used apple cider vinegar and smashed raspberries, grape jelly or homemade cranberry sauce )
  5. 1/2 cup Chicken broth (buillion cubes and water work as well)
  6. 1/2 cup Heavy cream (I've used fat free milk mixed with cornstarch)
  7. 4 Tbl.  Canned crushed tomatoes (I've used diced, canned tomatoes in a pinch)
  8. 1/2 cup  Frozen raspberries (I've used grape jelly, and homemade cranberry sauce...all good)
  1. Split and flatten the breasts.  In a large skillet melt the butter.  Add the chicken  and cook for 3 minutes on each side.  Remove and reserve.  
  2. Add the onion to the fat in the pan and cook for 15 minutes.  
  3. Add the vinegar and cook uncovered until the syrup is reduced to 4 tablespoon.  
  4. Whisk in the chicken broth, heavy cream, and crushed tomatoes.  
  5. Simmer for 1 minute.  
  6. Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer gently in the sauce, basting often until done, about 5 minutes. 
  7. Remove the chicken.  
  8. Add the raspberries to the sauce and cook over low healt for 1 minute. 
  9. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve over cooked linguine.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore: Giuseppe's Copycat

This one is a Jack and Joe approved favorite!  It's also Mom-approved because I can get it ready the night before, put it all in the crockpot, pop it out in the morning, set the timer and dinner is ready, sans pasta when we walk in the door in the evening.
Joe swears this is very close to the old Giuseppe's chicken cacciatore, before they changed the recipe.  I think he's right.

Here is my version:

2.5 - 3 lbs of chicken (pieces, breasts, skinless or not whatever you like: although I think a mix is best)
1 large onion, chopped
8-12 ounces button mushrooms (small ones, use whole: large ones, quartered)
1/2 t red pepper flakes
5 cloves mashed and roughly chopped
2 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp thyme
1 can whole, peeled tomatoes, with juices
1/2 c. red wine (white will do in a pinch)
1/4 c. tomato paste
2 T fresh basil chopped
dash of salt & pepper
cooked pasta of your choosing for serving


  1. Add chicken pieces (skin or not..up to you) to crockpot.  I often put them in frozen, remember, this will be in the fridge overnight and then on the counter until the crockpot starts to do it's thing.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, and basil on top of chicken.
  3. I like to whirl all the following in my food processor, at the very least you need to whirl the tomatoes or use diced.  Whirl tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, thyme in the food processor and pour over chicken.
  4. Stick the crock in the fridge.
  5. In the a.m., get the crock out and place on counter.  Set time for 4.5 hours before you arrive home. Set temperature control to high.  You could also do this for 6-7 hours on low.
  6. Serve over pasta; Serves 5-7.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Quinoa Patties

I'm lazy when it comes to packing lunches in the's the LAST thing I want to do.  But Jack won't eat school lunch (who can blame him?) and our office building is close to 2 convenience stores and that's it.  So, on Sundays, I make ahead individual salads for the week and make salmon or quinoa patties, freeze them individually and portion them into baggies.  EASY!  Quinoa is so healthy and good for you but you have to add some good veggies and cheese to make these patties, Mmm, Mmm good.

I don't have a pic of my quinoa patties handy...but aren't these salads gorgeous?  
Here's my recipe for Quinoa patties:  Enjoy!
2 eggs
3 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ c. breadcrumbs
Add one or more  of the following: Quinoa alone is very bland (but so good for you!)…add the flavors you like; here are some of my favorites.
Grated zucchini
frozen spinach (cooked and moisture squeezed out)
crumbled feta
diced onions
grated parmesean
grated sweet potato
grated sharp cheddar
canned salmon
canned tuna
 You will need some canola oil for your skillet, unless you are using non-stick.
1. Whisk eggs in large bowl.
2.  Add cooked quinoa and breadcrumbs (for gluten free...use flax seed or no breadcrumbs)
3.  Add in additions and stir until well combined and form into patties.
4.  Heat canola oil over medium low heat.
5.  Cook patties for 5 mins or until brown and a crispy crust has formed, flip then and cook for 5 more mins or so.
6.  Cool on a cookie cooling rack; then place them in the freezer on a baking sheet to individually freeze them.
7.   After they are frozen, pop into baggies for a quick toss into your lunch bag.  
8.  Reheat in microwave for a minute or two (times vary depending on the microwave).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Creamed Chipped Beef with Quinoa

My sweet friend, and all around domestic goddess, Robyn posted her recipe for Creamed Chipped Ham on her blog and I knew I had to make the chipped beef version for my guys!  This is my husband's number one comfort food and I've never thought to make it for him!  So Thanks Robyn...Joe is so grateful!  Rob's recipe is here:

I made a quadruple batch of this and as I was gathering the ingredients, including 2 whole sticks of butter, I was trying to think of ways to make it a bit more healthy; so I added quinoa and used beef broth along with the milk, essentially violating the rules of French cooking and the 5 mother sauces.  But that's just fine by me.

I got a big thumbs up from the guys!  I froze individual portions in muffin tins then placed them in a freezer bag for a quick breakfast that I don't have to cook.  Not that I cook breakfast often, Joe always lets me sleep! :-)

Creamed Chipped Beef with Quinoa

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup beef broth
2oz. dried beef
1 cup cooked quinoa


  1. Melt butter in large skillet or pan. As Rob points out, no substitutions on the butter, please.
  2. Warm up the milk and the beef broth in the microwave, but don't let it boil.
  3. Once butter is melted add the flour and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the warmed liquids to the roux while whisking vigorously.  Warming the liquids makes it easier to get a smooth sauce.
  5. Cook the sauce until thickened.
  6. Add shredded beef and quinoa, stir well.
  7. To freeze individual portions, pour 1/2 cup into muffin tins and pop in the freezer.
  8. Once frozen, place in individual baggies.
  9. To reheat:  place frozen serving in a bowl reheat in microwave for approximately 3.5 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  10. Serve over toast.
Serves 6

Nutition Information:
Serving Size: 1/2 c.
Calories per serving: 168
Carbs: 15
Fat: 9
Protein: 7

Monday, February 20, 2012

Salmon Quinoa Cakes

Jack simply won't eat school lunches; These salmon-grain cakes are his favorite packed lunch request and I am happy to oblige.
Simple to make, packed with omega-3's and whole grains and good cold, hot, in a salad, on a sandwich or just plain finger food.

2 14.75 oz cans Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon
2 cups cooked quinoa or 2 cups cooked barley
4 eggs
2 tsp dried dill (optional)
3 T dijon mustard (optional)

1. Beat 4 eggs in a large bowl.
2. Add the dill and mustard and mix well.
3. Add cooked quinoa (or barley), mix well.
4. Drain the cans of salmon and place the meat in the bowl.
5. Get your hands in there and want this to be very wet and well mixed.
6. Heat a skillet on high and add 1 tsp of canola oil (or whatever you like to use).  Adjust heat as needed.
7. Using a 1/4 cup scoop, scoop the mixture into your hand and form a patty.
8. Place as many cakes into the hot skillet as can easily fit.
9. After 6-7 minutes, turn the cakes, cook for 6-7 minutes more.
10. Remove cakes from skillet and place on a cooling rack.
11. After cakes are cooled, place on a cookie sheet and freeze.
12.  Pop frozen cakes in a freezer bag to dole out for packed lunches or a quick dinner.
13.  When packing in a lunch, I've found that microwaving them for 15-20 seconds insures that they aren't still frozen at lunch time!