gleaning the veggie drawer.

I went all crazy and wild with the vegetables, tonight.

First, I chopped up some butternut squash.  Then I sliced some mushrooms.  And then I decided—since I was at it—may as well chop the broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions too.  Feeling deliciously wild and free, I squished and smashed a few cloves of garlic and spread them all over the top.  And then—as if that wasn’t enough!—I bathed it all in a little bit of olive oil.

It feels good to go wild now and then.

Inspiration for these vegetarian quesadillas came from Trader Joes, which is where I found these cute ‘n’ wrinkly sun-dried tomatoes.  I knew they’d be perfect for some impromptu pizza or maybe some scrambled eggs.

Or, as in tonight’s case, perfect for a veggie quesadilla.

(Or eaten as is, straight from the bag…yum!)

This fresh and local mozzarella was a bit on the pricey side as far as cheese goes, but it does make a fun splurge now and then.

Dinner was fabulous.

On the side, I roasted some brussels sprouts.  They came directly from the freezer isle and tasted sweet and amazing.

(But don’t tell their fresher cousins that I told you so.  They think they’re so much better than these guys, but they’re really not.) 

The Great Vegetarian Quesadilla

Serves 4

This is the “Great” Vegetarian Quesadilla because it requires a “great” clean up, as you glean your way through the veggie drawer.  If you have an extra stalk of broccoli, throw it in.  Half a red bell pepper?  Chop, chop, chop it.  A few mushrooms on their last leg?  Perfect.  Use it all up and don’t be afraid to try some of the more uncommon quesadilla additions, such as butternut squash or turnips.

Top these melty quesadillas with a scoop of fresh, zingy salsa and you’ll have yourself a delicious, easy meal in no time!  Enjoy!

  • Mixture of your favorite vegetables (I used mushrooms, broccoli, butternut squash, red and green bell peppers, and onions)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Spray baking pan win with cooking spray.
  2. Chop all of your vegetables into bite sized pieces and layer on the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle garlic over the top and drizzle with olive oil.  Stir lightly to combine.  Place in oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping once in between cooking times.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat.  Place tortillas down, place cheese on half of the tortilla, and fold over.  Flip tortilla once it has become golden brown on one side.  Continue cooking on the other side until golden brown.
  4. Once vegetables are cooked, unfold tortilla and fill half with the vegetable mixture.  Fold back and cook for another minute or so.  Serve hot with salsa.  Enjoy! 😀
QUESTION: What is your favorite quesadilla filling?

Yes, I love birthdays.

Happy Birthday, Dad! 😀

Know what I love most about family birthday parties?  Well—I mean—aside from the food, of course.  I love the quiet excitement before the party actually even starts.  The table being set just so.  A candle or two being lit for a warm ambiance.  That first car that pulls into the driveway and the sounds of voices that are about to fill an empty, silent house.

This is what I love most about family birthdays.

Of course, in addition to all of that, it sure felt good to fire up the oven tonight.  This past week has left me craving a complete, full day of non-stop cooking.

Today: craving satisfied.

portabella mushrooms cooked in a balsamic reduction sauce

Everyone took part in making something.  I stood watch over the veggies and dad focused his attention on the meats.  Honestly, we all felt kind of bad having dad cook on his birthday, but he didn’t seem to really mind.  It would have felt just plain wrong to have someone else cooking the steaks and burgers, when we all know full and well that dad is the grill master in the family.

(p.s. I’m still using up the last of my garden cress…this stuff lasts and lasts, and I’ve been using it on everything from sandwiches to soups to hummus to burgers.  Quite delicious. )

Nicole @ Loving Simple Moments

Meanwhile, my mom was busy cooking the main dessert, which is her own top-secret homemade apple pie.  I’m not even a pie person, and yet I find myself falling in love with this pie time and time again.

The crust is what gets me.  Its tender and flaky, but not overly so (i.e., it doesn’t crumble into dust on your plate!)  And it avoids being dense and boring like some of those beautiful (but sadly poor-tasting) store bought pies can be.  It is, in one word, perfect.  Absolutely perfect.

I guess we all know who the star of the show was tonight. 😉

Yes.  I love birthdays.

I love the excitement, the laughing, the silliness, the games and the elaborate stories.  The feeling of warmth, of home, of happiness.  I love the cooking, the variety of foods and most of all, the sharing.  I love that it’s more than okay to spend 2 hrs at the dinner table.

I love how relaxed and unraveled the dinner table seems, after everyone has finished eating.  Crumbs.  Empty plates and half empty glasses.  That quiet, comforting feeling of being fully content with life.

Yes.  I love birthdays.

Happy Birthday, Dad!  We love you! 😀

QUESTION: What is your most memorable birthday?

a handful of green

I’ve been a little MIA this past week, in more areas than one.

I haven’t so much as touched the book that I’ve chosen to read during the month of March.  Aside from wearing a green scarf, I completely forgot about St. Patrick’s Day.  I’ve been living off of hummus and swiss cheese sandwiches for lunch, with raw veggies, fruit and almonds for snacks.

In other words, I’ve been kind of busy.  And I really miss my kitchen.  And I think my kitchen kind of misses me.

So as soon as the day was officially “complete,” as soon as it was over, I decided to stop off at Whole Foods and see what I could conjure up for dinner.  I felt the need for something…something…

…something green.

If you’ve ever seen a bunch of bright green garden cress at the supermarket, but you’ve  had no idea what it was or what you could do with it, you are not alone.  The flavors were a complete mystery to me until today.  I had no idea how I would use the little green leaves.  If I would use the little green leaves (!?!)

But the bright, cheery little bunch was a mere $1.00.  I’ll try anything for $1.00.  Especially if it’s bright and sunny and it makes me smile.

The sign at Whole Foods explained the leaves as being smooth, soft, bright, tangy and peppery.

“Perfect for sandwiches and soups and salads,” it said.

Perfect for tonight.

The cress bared a faint resemblance to arugula, without being over the top or in your face about it.  It’s a little more subtle.

Light and soft and elegant.

And it really does lend the most wonderful, rustic charm to a hot bowl of Mushroom Soup.  I simply chopped it up and sprinkle it on top for a deliciously healthy garnish.

You could also let it wilt by throwing in a handful or two at the end of the soup’s cooking time.  It would also pair lovely with a hummus wrap and a slice of sharp cheddar.

It felt really nice to be back in the kitchen, tonight.  Chopping and dicing and stirring and eating.  Yes.  It felt good to unwind.

Have a happy Friday!

a childhood flashback

It all started when I posted this picture over the weekend.

Childhood artwork, circa 1990’s

Normally, I can’t stand the thought of mushy spaghetti and meatballs being stored in a shelf stable can.  Really now, who had the imagination to come up with the idea of storing spaghetti in a can??  A can! Not to mention the mystery meat.

But this silly little drawing left me smiling.  It also left me in the mood for tomato smothered noodles.  And soup too.  I’m not sure if Chef Boyardee has come up with this sort of thing yet (spaghetti & meatball soup?) but this recipe from Moosewood Restaurant’s Cookbook brought me instantly back to my childhood.

You know.  In a totally delicious, non-canned, sort of way.

I like to think this is the grown up, healthified, adult version of an old childhood favorite.

Only there’s more vegetables.  No mystery meat.  Much less salt.  And a lot more flavor.

I think you’ll enjoy it. 😀

Moosewood’s Eastern European Minestrone—as seen on this website.

Minestrone soups will always leave you with countless options, and you can change the ingredients to fit your own personal taste preferences.  Broccoli would make a nice addition, as would water chestnuts, asparagus tips, and/or beets.  Use whatever your kitchen happens to have on hand, and you really can’t go wrong.

I highly recommend doubling this recipe, as it freezes well and can be used for lunches throughout the week.  Serve with a warm, crusty hunk of bread and enjoy! 😀

  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground caraway seeds
  • 1 cup diced  carrots
  • 3/4 cup green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup diced peeled turnips
  • 3/4 cup diced red pepper
  • 1 15-oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart (4 cups) water
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces whole wheat spaghetti, broken into 1-inch long pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  1. In a large soup pot on medium heat, cook the onions, garlic, and celery in the olive oil for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the paprika and caraway, and stir for a minute.
  2. Add the carrots, green beans, turnips and bell peppers, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the white beans, tomatoes, water, lemon juice, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  3. Stir in the pasta pieces, cover and simmer on medium heat until the pasta is al dente, 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in the dill.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: What were some of your favorite school lunches when you were small?  Do you still enjoy them or have your tastebuds changed over the years?

Life’s Not Always Pretty

 

Life’s not always pretty.

But it sure is delicious.

 

 

It was a very, very slow day at work today. 

In fact, it was hardly 3 o’clock when I finished seeing my last patient.  It was exactly 3 o’clock when I drove my little red car out of the lot.  And it was exactly 3:05 when I realized that the last thing I wanted to do was head straight home to face my ever growing pile of homework.  Oh me, oh my.  What a dilemna.

I toyed with going shopping, but it’s no secret that my sister and I have been going just a  teensy bit crazy with shopping lately. I think I need to hold off on any retail therapy for just a while.  I wouldn’t want the sales lady to know me by name, or anything. 😉

 

 

Besides, I think my kitchen has been resting just a little too long.  I’ve been itching to make something—anything! 

And so, with that final thought, I drove home.  I threw on my apron.  

And then I chopped an onion.

 

 

(I don’t always know where I’m going with a recipe or any given ingredient, but I’ve discovered that a scoop or two of salsa can do no wrong in most savory recipes…)

 

 

(…same goes for a spritz of lemon.  Salsa and lemon sure know how to spice up a party!)

 

 

These refried beans are a perfectly delicious option for filling a burrito or using as a dip for a dish of corn chips.

And, just as an extra bonus, this is the perfect recipe to make after a particularly stressful day.  You can chop away at an onion, smash a few beans, and make a snack (or lunch!) all in one shot. 

 

 

Life’s not always pretty.

But it sure is delicious.

 

 

Refried Beans

If you prefer a creamier refried bean, toss this mixture into your food processor and give it a whirl.  This is a delicious filling for your burrito, when paired with feta cheese, avocados, fresh tomatoes and lettuce.  Or, serve it cold with some corn chips for a protein packed, fiber rich snack.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 1 15-oz. can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp. salsa
  • lemon juice
  • garlic powder
  • salt to taste
  • pepper
  • cayenne to taste (optional)
  1. In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add chopped onions and cook until onions are soft and tender.
  2. Add pinto beans and reduce heat to medium low.  Continue to cook and stir occasionally, 5-6 minutes.  Add salsa, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne if using.
  3. With a potato masher, mash and stir all ingredients together.  Serve warm or cold as desired.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: If you had one day to do absolutely anything, what would you do?

I still love muffins.

 

Some people love Valentines Day.

Some people hate Valentines Day.

Everybody loves muffins.

 

 

During my undergrad in Nutrition, I was taking a class called “Food Service.”  It sounded simple enough. 

“Serve food,” I thought to myself.  “I can do that.”

 

 

And then I found myself smack dab in a cooking lab, grilling Australian lamb chops, making peanut brittle, and homemade mayonnaise.

It’s a little ironic that the toughest thing I had to overcome was the muffin.

 

 

Yes.  The simple muffin.

Simple to look at.  Simple to eat.  And supposedly, even more simple to make.

 

 

And yet, batch after batch, my muffins always turned out gummy.  Tough.  Bread like.  My professor took it upon herself to look over my shoulder.  Studying my every movement.  Making sure that I was following all the steps exactly right.

And then—suddenly—she found what she was looking for.  “The muffin mixing method!” She exclaimed loudly.  Triumphantlly.  “Don’t forget the muffin mixing method!”

 

 

I think to say that she was a proud of herself when she realized what was wrong is an understatement.  She looked as if she had just witnessed her baby taking his first steps. 

The problem was that I was mixing the dry ingredients directly in with the wet ingredients, rather than separating them first (oops!)  I blamed it on the fact that I didn’t have a recipe in front of my face, telling me to do this.  My professor just smiled, dumped out my previous batch and told me to try again. 

 

 

I still experiment in the kitchen.

I still make mistakes.

I still love muffins.

 

 

Blueberry Muffins—recipe taken from Cooks Illustrated Light, with changes.

This recipe calls for cake flour, which naturally has a lower gluten content than regular, all-purpose flour.  This produces a finer crumb in your final batch of muffins.  But, of course, if you don’t happen to have cake flour in your pantry, you can just substitute with all-purpose or whole wheat flour for equally tasty results.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 1-1/2 c. plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c. plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp juice from one lemon
  • 1 tsp grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 c. plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.  Whisk 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 cup wheat flour, cake flour , baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1/4 c. of the sugar together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Beat an aditional 1/2 c. sugar and butter together with a mixer, until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla until incorporated.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low.  Beat in one-third of the flour mixture until just incorporated, followed by one-third of the yogurt, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Repeat this process twice more, alternating between the remaining flour mixture and the yogurt until the ingredients are just incorporated.  Do not overmix.
  4. Toss blueberries with the remaining all-purpose flour, then gently fold them into the batter with a rubber spatula.  Using a large ice-cream scoop or measuring cup, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, and sprinkle the tops with the remaining Tbsp. sugar.  Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking.  Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then flip them out onto a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Question: What do you find “tough” to make?  What do you find “easy” to make?

Memere’s Kitchen.

 

Memere was quite the French Canadian chef.  

From her tiny little kitchen, she produced countless warm graham cracker pies.  Fluffy banana cream pies that made your tastebuds melt—absolutely melt.  Deep, chocolatey fudge that made you close your eyes and dream only in chocolate.

It’s funny, because despite all of those things, whenever I think of Memere’s kitchen, I think of baked beans.

 

 

Memere and I had a lot of similar tastes when it came to food.  One of them being that we both loved baked beans.  Especially when smeered over puffy white pancakes.

(I always liked the fact that Memere would serve me pancakes and beans for breakfast.  I loved that this was totally normal.  Just your typical, standard ol’ breakfast fare.)

  

 

It was in February (or March?) of 2010 that I set out to make Memere a batch of beans.  We were both sitting in her living room, watching Food Network, and discussing the seriousness of making the perfect batch of beans.

“You won’t put bacon in there, right?  I don’t want bacon in my beans.”  Memere would say this with such a disgusted look on her face, that I knew this was a very critical step.  I scribbled it down on my notepad.   

 

I’m pretty sure the menfolk would have liked the addition.  The bacon, I mean.  And I’m pretty sure that many baked bean connoisseurs and baked bean snobs (because I know they’re out there) would have thrown in some sort of pork or rind or bacon.

But I knew better than to argue with Memere.  I just listened carefully to her instructions.  I took notes: No bacon.  Lots of molasses.  A long, slow bake

 

It was but an hour into preparing the beans, when I knew immediately that I must have forgotten something.  Something important.  The  beans were done—completely finished! 

I thought this was absolutely great.  Memere sounded totally worried.  “I don’t know,” she said.  “Baked beans should take at least a couple of hours.”

 

 

After a quick, Memere-to-me, step by step discussion, I realized what I had done.  The stovetop heat had been too high.  The beans had become too soft.  The flavors never even stood a chance of being able to meld and mix and mingle.  They were, in a word, bland.

It was back to the drawing board.  This time with further, more specific instructions from Memere.

 

 

As an aside, baking beans is a little like baking bread.  You need a lot of patience.  This isn’t always (ever?) easy.

 

 

The second time around, however, the results were baked bean perfection.  The beans remained firm but tender.  The molasses really shined through.  The ingredients were baked together in a long, dreamy process.

And there was no bacon in sight.

I served us bowls of beans for lunch.  Memere made us a loaf of her homemade bread and served me a thick slice covered in butter.  After a couple of silent bites in, Memere approved with a bright smile and a sharp nod.  And then we went on to discuss the serious matters of fashion, food, and Rachael Ray.

And that is why I always think of baked beans, whenever I think of Memere’s kitchen.

 

 

Boston Baked Beans

Serves about 4-5 main entrees

These beans are delicious a main entree, when served with a side salad and a whole grain cornbread.  Or, try serving on the side of your favorite meal (poultry or tofu come to mind.)  Better yet, serve over a plate of warm, puffy pancakes and eat them for breakfast.  They freeze well and can be stored in single serve containers, and brought to work when you need a quick lunch.

(p.s. They’re also the perfection addition to a Super Bowl Buffet!)

If you like your beans with a kick, add some hot sauce to the sauce mixture.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 2 c. navy beans
  • 1-2 onions, finely diced
  • 3 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  1. Soak beans overnight in cold water.  The next day, bring beans to a boil in the same water.  Immediately bring heat to low and cook for approximately 1 to 2 hrs.  Drain and reserve liquid.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  3. Arrange the beans in a 2 quart bean pot or casserole dish and top with onions.
  4. In a saucepan, combine rest of ingredients, onions through brown sugar.  Add hot sauce if desired.  Bring mixture to a bowl and pour over beans.  Pour in just enough of reserved bean water to cover the beans.  Stir gently with rubber spatula and cover dish with lid or aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for 3 to 4 hrs in preheated oven.  Stir at least every hour.
  6. ENJOY!

 Question: Who or what are the cooking inspirations in your life?  Bon Appetit magazine, Memere, Julia Childs (because she never cried over a few mistakes!) and Mollie Katzen.

hello, garbanzo bean.

 

Garbanzo beans and I used to be the best of friends.  I would sprinkle the little chicks onto (and into) everything.  From salads to pilafs to hummus to ridiculously spicy, Indian-inspired entrees.  It was quite the little love affair.

And then, somehow, we fell out of touch with each other.  I’m the one to blame.  I neglected and abandoned the innocent little garbanzos.  Sure, I still cracked open a can now and then (they make for a nice, quick source of protein during a busy weeknight!)  But it was never really anything…you know…special.  Certainly nothing worth talking about.

 

Obviously, it was about time that I reacquainted myself with the simple little bean. 

 

 

Garbanzos are simple.  Very simple.  And they prefer to stay fresh and bright and cheery whenever they can.  For this simple garbanzo bean salad, I chose the freshest ingredients that I happened to have on hand.  A spritz of lemon.  Olive oil.  Fresh basil reserved from the summer.   A small handful of walnuts, thereby adding just a touch of earthiness to the entire dish. 

 

 

I came pretty close to sitting right down, grabbing a spoon, and making a straight up meal out of this garbanzo salad. 

But I practiced some willpower and made sure to reserve some for my lunch.

 

 

Hello, garbanzo bean. 

It’s really nice to see you again.

 

 

Lemony Basil Garbanzo Bean Salad

This simple bean salad is very, very versatile.  Feel free to change up the types and amounts of herbs that you use.  Same goes for the spices.  And—well—same goes for the garbanzo beans (I promise I won’t tell!)

Serve this mild and tangy salad over a fresh garden salad, stuffed into a whole wheat pita pocket, or presented as a side with your favorite meal.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 1 15-oz. can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 large handfuls of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Dash of garlic
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients.  Let sit overnight for the best flavors.  Serve and enjoy!

Question: Do you enjoy eating beans and legumes?  What are some of your favorite ways to serve them?

 

to tofu, with love

I once marched around the house with a picketing sign that read “I. Hate. Tofu.” in big, bold letters, while my sister who was making a tofu lasagna, pretended not to notice. 

I took one bite of the dreaded sauce & cheese imposter.  And then I declared it the best lasagna that I had ever tasted, while my brother went off to contemplate how he might disown me.

Let it never be said that I’m afraid to speak my mind.  Or afraid to change my mind as needed, for that matter. 

 

4 

Tofu is no light topic of discussion.  In fact, I wouldn’t really recommend discussing soy or tofu at the family dinner table, unless of course you’re looking for a good debate.  Everyone feels something about the little white blocks of soy.  Everyone has something to say about it.

“Ugh, it makes me gag.”

“Oh my word, I practically live on the stuff!”

“Well.  It’s kind of complicated.”

 

2

 

The lasagna was my very first delightful encounter with tofu.  And then I decided to experiment—just a little.  Gradually crossing the boundaries from being a McDonalds loving, cheeseball consuming, soda addicted kid to *gasp* a tofu eater.  I blame that on discovering good sauces and smart preparation techniques. 

And the rest is history.

 4

3

 

(p.s. The best part of this story is when my brother—the one who was planning on how he could disown me for going to the “dark side”—became the vegetarian of the family.  Go figure!)

 

2

 

The moral of the story is (a) don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself and others.  Tastebuds change.  And so do we as individuals.  If you love a juicy hamburger now and then, admit it, and don’t feel shame or guilt.  If you’d much rather not eat meat at all, and stick mostly to vegetarian fare, that’s great too.  Be yourself.  Be you!  And find what works best for your own individual needs.  A healthy diet can be formed around either of the aforementioned.  Really!

(b) Try something new!  If you’re feeling like you’re somewhere in the “it’s complicated” category of tofu, then branch out and try a new recipe.  Different techniques yield different flavors and textures.

(c) This isn’t really a moral, but—as your friend—I feel I should offer the advice of always making enough of this BBQ tofu for seconds.  It is *fabulous* as a sandwich filler. 😀 

 

1

BBQ’d Tofu

Both of these recipes stem from the Veganomicon cookbook.  I made just a few subtle changes to make the cooking process a tad bit easier, while also basing the ingredients on what I happened to have on hand (I didn’t have the called for smoke seasoning!)  The BBQ sauce makes quite a bit—about 4 cups worth.  It is incredibly easy to make, and it’s nice having the extra sauce for future sandwiches or tofu/chicken creations. 

Serve this tangy sweet tofu with rice or mashed, garlic potatoes and your favorite roasted veggie.  Enjoy! 😀

BBQ sauce:

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 c. molasses
  • 1/3 c. white vinegar
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 T. yellow mustard
  1. Saute onions in oil in medium pan over medium heat, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic through sugar and cook for 1 hr. over low heat.  Add mustard and adjust flavors as needed. 
  2. Puree in a food processor and store in refrigerator.

Baked Tofu with BBQ sauce:

  • 1 lb. tofu, pressed for 30 minutes (I recommend freezing the tofu ahead of time and dethawing/pressing before using…this produces a much “meatier” texture)
  • 1/2 of above recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  In a 9×18 inch pan, place 1/4 of the above recipe on bottom of pan.  Place tofu on top.  Cover in 1/4 more of the above recipe. 
  2. Bake for 20 minutes.  Flip.  Bake an additional 20-25 minutes.  Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Question: Tofu Feelings?  Love?  Hate?  It’s kind of complicated?

sometimes onions fly

I figured that it was about time for me to come clean with you guys.

I am not a clean cook.  In fact, I am a downright messy cook.

I can dice an onion with enthusiastic speed. 

I can eyeball out an accurate tablespoon of olive oil. 

I can handle three or four pots at once.

Hm.  I could probably even chop an eggplant with my hands tied behind my back.  Maybe. 

But please don’t ever ask me to keep my kitchen clean.  It just isn’t going to happen.

In my kitchen, carrot peels cling to the wall before plummeting to the earth. 

Pepper seeds sprinkle themselves across the butcher block. 

And sometimes, onions fly.

Now, before you start envisioning a dreadfully messy kitchen, I should point out that it’s not like my kitchen is always messy.  After dinner, it becomes rather spotless.  You’d barely believe that there was ever a moment of chaos, just 15 minutes previous.

Even still, I did seriously consider making “maintain a clean kitchen environment while cooking” as my New Years Resolution.  I envisioned myself twirling around a completely spotless kitchen, making both mom and martha proud.  

Not a speck of tomato sauce on anything (or anyone, for that matter.) 

But then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this wasn’t such a good idea.

I kind of like being a messy cook.  It’s my time to just let loose.  To peel a carrot with reckless abandon.  To chop an onion like its my duty.  To let the pans sizzle and fry.

Really, now, you’ve got to admit.  Sometimes it feels good to get a little messy.  Sometimes it feels good to just let things fly.

Ratatouille—recipe taken from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart

I’ve always thought of “Ratatouille” as being a difficult (and maybe a little prestigious) recipe.  And yet, after finally overcoming my fears and just making it already, I can honestly say that there is nothing to be afraid of. 

Ratatouille is, very simply, a vegetable stew that is most commonly made with a mixture of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion and seasonings.  It comes together relatively quickly and aside from some vegetable dicing, most of the work is hands off. 

This recipe is delicious when served as is, with a hunk of crusty bread.  Or served over brown rice.  Or whole wheat pasta.  It would even make a lovely filling to your soft wrap at lunch, when topped with a sprinkle of goat cheese.  This recipe makes a lot, so you will have plenty of chances and opportunities.

  • 1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced large
  • 1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and diced large
  • 2 large zucchini (1 lb total), diced large
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T. fresh oregano
  • 2-3 T. red wine vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Place tomatoes and juices on a rimmed baking sheet and use your hands to break tomatoes into 3/4 inch pieces.  Drizzle with 2 T. olive oil and bake until thickened, 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a colander, toss eggplant with 1/2 tsp salt.  Let sit 20 minutes, then squeeze out any excess liquid with a paper towel.  In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are soft, 5 minutes.  Add peppers and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bay leaf, and oregano to pot.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are tender but not mushy, 15 minutes.  Season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper.
  4. ENJOY! 😀

Question: Are you the cleanest of cooks or do you typically make a mess?