Friday, December 31, 2010

Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing on Grilled Romaine

My best wishes to you for a happy and healthy NewYear. Let's make 2011 one of good health. Onward 2011!

The dressing:

1 large garlic clove,chopped
1 T chopped shallot
1 T balsamic, (I used Fustinis's 18 year old Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, WOW!)
1/2 C olive oil
5 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, chopped
1 t capers, drained
1/4 t fresh thyme leaves
1/8 - 1/4 t salt
pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil. Process, slowly adding the oil.

The salad:

1 - 2 hearts of Romaine
olive oil
black olives, Kalamata or Gaeta, cut in half (optional)

Cut the Romaine in half. Brush the cut side with olive oil and grill quickly. Top the Romaine with the dressing and a few pitted and sliced black olives. Serve.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Marinated Mushrooms

My daughter and I were at Whole Foods when she decided to make a salad. One of the choices at the salad bar were marinated mushrooms. They were so good, I had to try my own hand at this appetizer. 

For this recipe I used a balsamic vinegar from Fustini's Oils and Vinegars. These vinegars and oils are famous here in Michigan, and for good reasons. They are amazing! At Fustini's  they have a wide selection of aged balsamic vinegars and the freshest extra virgin olive oils you can find. They import their products from artisans and small batch producers worldwide to their shops which are located in quaint cities like Traverse City, Petoskey, Holland and Ann Arbor. But you don't have to travel to any of these locations, because you can purchase these fine products on line. The website for Fustini's is:

I plan to serve this taste treat on New Year's Eve... a great start to a healthy year. 

Onward 2011!

2 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
1/2 C. white truffle extra virgin olive oil, or a good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 pound small button mushrooms, stems trimmed (if they are large, half or quarter so they are uniform in size)
1/4 C chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 t fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 t fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 T fresh chives, finely chopped
1 T Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar, from Fustini's Oils and Vinegars
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Discard the garlic. Increase heat to medium. Add the mushrooms and Italian parsley; stir often and sauté until mushrooms are golden, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool  and transfer to a container; cover and chill until cold. (Can be made 2 days ahead) Drain mushrooms before serving.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

Meg dropped off a butternut squash and a few pounds of potatoes that her sister Jean had harvested from her garden long ago. Let me tell you, having these beautiful vegetables delivered to my door in the middle of December really makes me want to dig up my back yard and sow a few seeds (not right now of course...). Anyway, I am thankful to Jean for thinking of me because we have enjoyed each and every bite, but I'm not done yet. I still have an enormous butternut squash that's large enough for two recipes. Half will be used in my butternut squash soup and the other in this recipe from Ina Garten that I copied from the Food Network website. Looks yummy doesn't it?  I can't wait.


  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch) diced
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I will omit for myself, but use for my family)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Walking Meditation… Another stunning article by my Uncle Gene

Meditation helps. It may be a religious practice, but it is also part of many different therapies, ranging from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cardiac Rehab, and addiction treatments. While meditation may be “targeted,” with some particular goal in mind, meditation best accomplishes its purposes when the meditator does it just for the sake of meditating, without any particular goal in mind. 

Perhaps the best way to practice meditation does not involve sitting, but a practice frequent among Buddhists called “walking meditation.” While one may meditate while walking in the woods or around a city block, it may be advisable to walk around in a circle somewhere, where the distractions will be minimal and concentration on breathing uninterrupted.
Walking around in circle, with minimal sensory stimuli, may enable you to enter the meditative state more easily than if you are comfortably seated, where the “relaxation response” may be doing more to calm your body than to focus your mind.

Walking has this benefit: we are the most sedentary society the world has known, and we sit for hours everyday, either at work, at meals, driving somewhere, or watching TV. Walking slowly around in a circle may do a better job for most of us in producing the calm that characterizes the meditative state.

There is abundant medical literature documenting the health benefits of meditation, beginning with Dr. Herb Benson’s The Relaxation Response and John Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living. Kabat-Zinn writes: “Walking meditation involves intentionally attending to the experience of walking itself. It involves focusing on the sensations in your feet or your legs or, alternatively, feeling your whole body moving.”

The famous French philosopher Jacques Maritain said: “Walking is a meditative habit unknown to Americans.” That was years ago, and by now, Americans have taken up the habit of walking for the sake of walking, sometimes walking in circles in their own backyards, or walking around the block, or around their own living rooms. Walking is touted for producing a variety health benefits. Add meditation to your walking, and you may find your personal tranquility index rising, your blood pressure falling, and your overall life-equilibrium restored. Walking is a meditative habit that can easily become part of your routine. It is part of mine, and although I have practiced many different meditation techniques, a period of “walking mediation” each morning helps me face the predictable and unpredictable challenges of adult life. It is one of those “little things” that can make a big improvement in the quality of your life!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Napa Valley Spiced Almonds

Christmas dinner is on it's way to my house. I love hosting this very special dinner. In fact, my entire family looks forward to it. We enjoy having everyone over, and the fact that they all bring something for the meal makes it that much more fun.

Every year for dinner there are certain constants, but I am always on the look out for new and different recipes to change it up. One morning I made a phone call to my dear friend Meg and she was in the kitchen making spiced almonds (I was still in bed). Anyway, she had this appetizer while on vacation in Napa Valley and brought the recipe home. It sounded delicious, so I quickly jotted down the ingredients and now I'm sharing it with you.

It's good as a snack or great for when you have guests.

Napa Valley Spiced Almonds

2 C almonds
2 t olive oil
1/4 t cumin
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t turmeric
1/2 t fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the spices. Pour the olive oil over the almonds and toss to coat. Stir the spices into the almonds. Once the spices and almonds are combined and the almonds evenly coated spread them onto a sheet pan. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, checking often. Allow the almonds to cool before serving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

Here's a recipe I posted last fall. I think it's worth repeating. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash (3 – 3.5 lbs) - peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes (about 6 cups)
1 t. fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper (just a little)
3 leeks - white parts only, washed well and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 C. coarsely chopped cauliflower
2 stalks of celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 bouillon cubes, low sodium vegan vegetable (I used Rapunzel, one cube for every 2 cups of water)
6 C. water
3 large leaves of sage, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay aluminum foil on the bottom of a sheet pan and spray it with Pam. Pour the cubed butternut squash onto the sheet pan and lightly spray the top of the squash with Pam. Sprinkle the squash with the salt and cracked pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, add the chopped sage and stir. Continue roasting for 15 minutes or more until soft.

In a large pot simmer the water, bouillon cubes, celery, cauliflower and leeks until the vegetables are tender. Once the squash and sage are finished in the oven, spoon them into the pot with the other vegetables. Remove from the heat and blend the soup in batches using a blender or food processor until nearly smooth. Serve.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mulled Cider

Here's a great recipe for a before dinner drink that shouts Thanksgiving. The added bonus in making a mulled cider is that the entire house smells wonderful as it cooks.

Mulled Cider

1/2 gallon of cider (64oz.)
3 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
8 whole allspice
1 orange, peel and juice
rum or brandy (optional)

Use a pot large enough to hold all the apple cider. Toast the cinnamon, cloves, and allspice by heating the pan over medium heat and tossing the spices occasionally to prevent burning. The spices should become very fragrant within a minute or two. Add the cider.

Use a vegetable peeler to peel only the orange part of the skin of the orange. You don't want any of the white pith because it imparts a bitter taste. Add the peel then squeeze the juice of the orange into the cider. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and continue cooking for 20 minutes. Serve.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What I'm taking to Thanksgiving dinner

After a long conversation, it was decided that I should bring an hors d'oeuvre. That made my decision easy. This recipe is a hit wherever I take it. Thanksgiving here we come!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Stuffed Artichoke Hors d'oeuvre

1 can of whole artichoke hearts
2 T olive oil
2 T onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1/2 C. packed baby spinach leaves, chop finely
6 T diced oyster mushrooms
1/8 t sea salt
3 T panko bread crumbs
fresh lemon

Drain the can of artichoke hearts and cut them in half. Scoop out the center of each half and mince the center leaves that you've removed. Set aside. Dry the in-tack artichoke hearts with a paper towel so little moisture is left.

In a saute pan, add the oil and heat to medium low. To that, add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the spinach, chopped artichoke, mushrooms and sea salt and saute until the mixture is cooked down nicely (only a few minutes). Finally, add the bread crumbs and heat through.

Scoop out enough mixture to fill each half of the artichoke hearts. It will work out perfectly if you don't overfill. Set the stuffed artichoke hearts onto a baking sheet and broil until the tops are nicely browned. Squeeze lemon over the top of them when they come out.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving dinner... hmmm... Stuffed Acorn Squash

We are invited to Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's. She is an amazing cook... really amazing! So, what do I do? For years Thanksgiving dinner was always my favorite! I loved all the flavors, smells and tastes... the butter, the cream, the eggs, the turkey, the gravy...  oh my! But now, I really don't eat a lot of what will be served, and I don't expect her to cook any differently because of me. Thanksgiving traditions are very important in this family. 

Last year I was at my sister-in-law's for Thanksgiving. I was still new to this diet and I decided to  eat as a vegetarian. It was actually quite nice to taste all those flavors (turkey aside) that I had so recently given up. It was really a treat, and I'll probably do the same this year. After all, what's really important here is being with family and sharing in the tradition of sitting down at the table with one another to eat and give thanks for all that we have... our family, our health, the laughter and love.

So now the dilemma is what to take? Bringing a vegan side dish that will please everyone will be my challenge. I decided to look back on some of my recipes from last fall. I found my stuffed acorn squash. I'm not sure I'll make this, but it's in the running. It's really wonderful. It has all the flavors of fall and everyone would like it, so it's under consideration.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 4

2 acorn squash – approximately 1.5 lbs each

2 C. rice - I used Lundberg Wild Blend, a blend of whole grain and wild rice
4 C. water for cooking rice

2 garlic cloves, minced
2 t. fresh sage, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped (1/2 C.)
1 apple, diced, with the skin on
1/2 C. dried cranberries
2 T. chopped walnuts
1/2 t. sea salt
Pam – non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the rice according to the directions on the package. Line a sheet pan with foil and lightly spray with Pam. Cut the acorn squash in half and seed. Place squash cut side down on the sheet pan and bake until tender, about 40 minutes. When the rice is nearly finished cooking, heat a non-stick saute pan over medium high heat and toast the walnuts stirring for about 3 minutes, remove and set aside. Spray the non-stick saute pan with Pam and heat the celery, garlic and sage together stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the rice, apple, cranberries, walnuts, salt and pepper. Mix well. Divide the mixture between the squash shells and warm in the oven for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Broccolini and Brown Rice

I was browsing one of my favorite blogs and found a great article on broccoli. We really like broccoli in this house and I cook it in a variety of ways... or at least I used to. Now I only steam it, and I'm using that technique with my broccolini too.

Although broccolini is often misidentified as young broccoli, it's not. It is a cross between broccoli and kai-lan, a Chinese broccoli. Nutritionally, it's high in vitamin C but also contains vitamin A, calcium, folate and iron. We love it's flavor and it's delicious in this recipe!

Be sure to visit this blog:
She always has interesting and informative articles. Look for the post "Broccoli a Super Veg" and you'll find yourself steaming your broccoli too!

Broccolini and Brown Rice

Serves 4

1 C. brown rice
1 T. Earth’s Balance
2 T. pine nuts
8oz. of broccolini, cut into 1 – 1 ½ inch pieces
1/4 C. Olive oil
5 cloves of garlic
½   C. onion, chopped
Zest of ½ a lemon
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook the brown rice according to the directions on the package, but add the tablespoon of Earth’s Balance to the water and rice. This helps give the final product a creamy texture.

In a sauté pan, toast the pine nuts until lightly brown. Careful... this takes only a minute or two. Remove and set aside. 

In the same sauté pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Lightly smash the garlic cloves. When the oil is heated, add the garlic and cook while stirring for up to 5 minutes. Remove the garlic and discard. Next, add the onion to the oil. Sauté the onion until it’s soft and translucent.  

Using a saucepan fitted with a steamer basket, add about 1 inch of water and bring it to a boil. Add the broccolini and cover.  Cook the broccolini until just tender, approximately 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the broccolini and the onion oil mixture to the rice. Season the rice with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Toss to combine. Serve immediately. Serves 4

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Maryann's Easy Crockpot Applesauce

My dear friend Maryann recently made some applesauce and delivered it to me (great friend, right?).  Well, it was so yummy, I had to ask for the recipe. Low and behold, I found out she used a crockpot... and I really liked the sound of that! You just put everything into the pot and forget about it. She says her entire house smells amazing when she makes this.

I used it as a side dish and a dessert.... (and as a late night treat... shhhh).

Maryann's Easy Crockpot Applesauce
4 pounds of tart apples (she used Jonagold), pared, cored and thinly sliced (approx. 12 C)
¼  C sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t.allspice (optional)
1 C. water
1 T fresh lemon juice

Put the apples into a crock pot. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and start the cooking process. Set the crockpot at (either) Low for 5 -7 hours, or High for 2 ½  – 3 ½. Once the cooking is done, smash the apples with a potato masher and serve.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marnie's Pasta

My mother is visiting... so much fun! She's an amazing cook and hasn't missed a beat with my vegan diet. She whipped this up for dinner last night and the entire house smelled like the finest Italian restaurant you've ever been to. Another feature of this dish is how easily it can be adapted. With a little Parmesan cheese and shrimp the rest of my world was happy. Thank you Mom!!

Marnie's Pasta

3 cloves of garlic, sliced in half
1/4 cup of good extra virgin olive oil
6 oz. of button mushrooms, sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 pound of whole wheat spaghetti

Serves 4
Simple & Quick

Begin by cooking the spaghetti according to the directions on the package. In a saute pan, slowly simmer the garlic cloves in the oil for about 5 - 10 minutes. Be careful not to brown too much. Remove the garlic and some of the oil. The garlic can be discarded. Reserve the oil for later. On low, brown the mushrooms for about five minutes. Add the tomatoes and heat through. When the pasta is done, add it to the saute pan along with the reserved oil. Toss to coat and serve.

So yummy!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another great article written by my Uncle Gene. This time it's about...

Most of us feel the stresses of everyday life, and find various ways to deal with them. (It is a myth that as you get older, you know how to handle stress. Some of life’s most stressful events do not happen until you have gray hair and a weakened immune system!) Physical activity at any age reduces stress for most people, but the practice of meditation has a long and successful history of helping people to cope with life’s challenges. Anyone can practice meditation: you don’t have to go to India and hire a guru; you don’t have to visit a monastery and join the monks at prayer. Meditation can be a religious exercise, or it can simply be a calming experience, a way of stepping back and emptying the mind of all that is extraneous and trivial. “To people who say they are too busy to meditate, I tell them, set aside ten minutes every morning for meditation, and you will find that your schedule is not nearly as oppressive as before you started the practice of meditation.”
If you are new to meditation, or returning after a long absence, begin with five minutes. Find a place where you will not be disturbed, make yourself moderately comfortable, and simply sit and meditate. Close your eyes if that helps, have a clock where you can see it if you look, and begin by counting your breaths for five minutes. By the second day, you will look forward to this time of collecting your self, and you will find something else to hold your attention, whether a word, a thought, a picture, or a blank wall. Meditation comes naturally to those who set aside a time, find a place where they will not be interrupted, and empty their mind of all distractions.
Many medical professionals recommend meditation as a way to good health. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, for reasons religious, philosophical, and healthful. It is a calming and quieting experience, a turning off of the noise and distraction of everyday, and attentiveness to what is basic and elementary: breathing, for example. The simplest form of meditation is to find a quiet place, sit comfortably, and spend ten minutes simply paying attention to your breath. Dr. Andrew Weil says there is no medical prescription more important than re-learning how to breathe! (From the Mayo Clinic Health Letter: “Resperate is a portable electronic device that promotes slow, deep breathing. Resperate is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. The goal is slow, deep breathing with particularly long exhalation. Resperate is intended to be used at least 15 minutes a day, three to four days a week. Within a few weeks, the deep breathing exercises can help lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.”) Given our American passion for technology, we have found a way for technology to produce what experienced meditators have been doing for centuries!
As we get busy, we tend to breathe shallowly. We can go days or weeks without paying attention to our own breathing. Simply counting your breath can help focus your attention. Controlling your breath is the next step: breathe in for 5-10 seconds, hold your breath, and then breathe out slowly and calmly, and try to focus your entire attention on the act of breathing.
      Is meditation really as simple as that? You can dress it up in many ways, but that is the basis. You may make it a religious experience by incorporating the appropriate imagery, you may make an aesthetic experience by meditating on the sunset or on the stars, or some other natural phenomenon, or you may make it a calming and relaxing experience through the recitation of some “mantra” that has particular significance for you.
      Dr. Herbert Benson has documented that the regular practice of meditation lowers blood pressure; Dr. Dean Ornish claims that regular meditation reduces the risk of sudden heart attack.  Dr. Weil claims that meditation boosts the effectiveness of the immune system. Perhaps it does these because it brings us back to our most basic self, puts us in touch with the roots of our pre-consciousness, and does something to establish a calm and tranquil center at the heart of our activity.
      Among philosophers, Socrates had his meditative trances from which he could not be awakened. Plotinus had his transformative experiences of solitude, of being “alone with the Alone.” Thomas Aquinas was so transformed by his meditations that all he had written seemed like so much straw.  Asian traditions are parallel: Thich Nhat Hanh, perhaps the greatest living teacher of Buddhism, recommends the simple formula: Breathing in, I calm my body, breathing out, I smile. His books, Peace is Every Step, and Interbeing, can be great helps along the path to successful meditation.
The best cure for an overly-busy schedule is to set aside a few minutes a day of uninterruptible quiet time, quiet your mind and your emotions, put your breathing, and therefore your life, into good and peaceful order…

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Bisque

My daughter bought a new cookbook. It's "Totally Vegetarian," written by Toni Fiore, and there are some great recipes inside. Many of them are vegan and many others can be adapted. She's made 3 recipes from this cookbook and all of them have been wonderful. This bisque is the best! I only changed a couple of things. I switched out the sugar for agave nectar and added cashew cream instead of soy milk. So get to the store and buy a pie pumpkin before their all gone. Then try this soup. It's delicious! 

Roasted Pumpkin Bisque
One 2-pound sugar pumpkin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 - 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves
Fine sea salt
Black pepper, to taste
4 cups vegetable stock
1 - 2 teaspoons agave nectar
1/2 to 1 cup soy milk or cashew cream
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped chives
Sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the pumpkin in half across the equator, not stem to bottom. Remove the seeds and strings with a spoon. Place the pumpkin cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until tender about 40 minutes. Set it aside until cool enough to handle. Scoop out the pulp and place in a bowl; discard the shell.

Heat the olive oil in a 3 - 4 quart heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, ginger, and a sprinkle of salt. Saute until the onion is translucent and the carrots begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin, rosemary, and 2 teaspoons salt. Stir well and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft. Remove from the heat and stir in the agave. Let cool 10 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a blender and blend, slowly adding the milk a little at a time. You may need to do this in two batches. Check the texture, which should be smooth and dense, you may not need to add the entire cup of soy milk or cashew cream, so do this to your taste. When the soup is whipped and creamy return to the pot and heat through. Stir in the chives, season with black pepper & sprinkle with nutmeg if using.Serve hot.

Totally Vegetarian: Easy, Fast, Comforting Cooking for Every Kind of Vegetarian

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The CSN Giveaway is over!

The winner of the $40.00 CSN Gift Card Giveaway is.... Kathy!

Congratulations! I will email you, and CSN will be in contact. Thanks to everyone who entered!

And stay tuned for the most fabulous vegan pumpkin soup you've ever tasted!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another CSN Giveaway! Yea!!

Yes, it's true! CSN is offering a $40 gift card to one lucky reader, again! 

If you follow my blog then you already know how much I love CSN.  They have over 200 online stores where you can buy anything from cookware, shoes,  dining sets,  exercise equipment, tools, cribs, lighting, even pet beds!  You name it, they have it! At CSN, there are SO many things to choose from you're certain to find something you can’t live without.

So here's the deal...
The contest will be open for one week. On Tuesday, October 12th, the contest will close. I will pick a winner using and post the winner's name on Wednesday.

Here's what you need to do:
1. Go to the CSN website (using the link, dining sets) and tell me what 1 item you would love to have in your home. It can be anything! Spend some time looking around.
2. Be a blogspot follower of my blog
3. Get the word out and post about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, whatever!

Good luck everyone!

BTW, This is open to US and Canadian residents only. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vegan Party on a Plate

My daughter use to eat at Chipolte everyday. She tells me the meal cost her $10.00, though I'm not sure I believe her. In all honesty, it was probably a ploy to extract more money from me. Anyway, there is a Chipolte Mexican Grill right at the heart of Michigan State University's campus, so it was easy to get to, and it didn't hurt that her roommate worked there either.

Interestingly, I recently learned that Chipolte is known for using the best local, fresh and organic ingredients available. So no matter what the cost was to me, it was worth it. You should really check out this article on the founder Steve Ells and this restaurant. It's impressive.
The following recipe is based on what my daughter loved to eat at Chipolte during her college years, and now that I've eaten this dish, I realize why she ate it daily. It's delicious. Serve it with Baked Tostitos and a margarita! Your entire family will love it. Yum!

Serves 4

1 cup brown rice, cooked according to instructions
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
olive oil
2 peppers, red and green
1 large onion
1 large cob of corn
Freshly made guacamole using 2 avocados
Hearts of romaine

Begin by cooking the rice. As the rice cooks, slice the corn off the cob and the onion into wide rings. Chop the lettuce. Rinse and drain the black beans. Put them into a sauce pan with a little water and warm them on the stove. Make the guacamole to your taste. Lightly oil the peppers and onion and lay them on the grill until slightly black and soft. Once the peppers have cooled to the touch, slice into long strips. When the rice is done you can begin assembling the plates. Lay the rice down first, then the beans, peppers, onions, corn, guacamole and romaine. Dive in!

As a side note, we made it vegetarian by adding cheese for the non-vegan family members.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Greek Panzanella

This recipe comes from Ina Garten. She uses feta cheese in her recipe, which I omitted. Also, I added capers to the dressing for a little more flavor. It's a perfect summer salad, especially when using fresh vegetables from the garden. My family loved it and I will definitely make it again!



  • Good olive oil
  • 1 small French baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices (approx. 6 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or one large tomato large diced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil


Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. 

Heat a grill or grill pan. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl. With a pastry brush, lightly brush olive oil onto each piece of bread. Grill the bread turning as they brown. Once they are nicely browned remove and add to the salad.

Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the olives and grilled bread and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Roasted Squash with Pasta

Where is all the squash? Normally this time of year you can't run into someone without them offering up zucchini from their garden. Usually neighbors and co-workers are so overrun with summer squash they can’t bare it... and I always look forward to this overabundance.

I love the roasted flavors of squash so much I've been buying it to satisfy my cravings. Oh well... The following recipe is my latest creation. It's easy and yummy! I think you'll like it. Try it and let me know what you think.

Roasted Vegetables
1 large ripe tomato cored and sliced
2 lbs. zucchini and yellow summer squash, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the sliced squash in a large bowl and pour a little oil over the squash. Using your hands, toss the squash to coat with the oil. Lay the squash out on a sheet pan. Lay the tomatoes on the sheet pan and pour just  a little oil over the  tops of the tomatoes. Sprinkle the veggies with garlic, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 shallot, diced
1 sprig fresh oregano
1 sprig fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
roasted vegetables and juices from the pan
one package of whole grain linguine

As the vegetables roast, boil the noodles as directed on the package. For the sauce, heat a large saute pan. Add the olive oil and Earth Balance warming until blended. Add the garlic, shallot, thyme and oregano to the pan. Saute until the shallot becomes translucent, about 5 minutes over medium low heat. Remove the sprigs of fresh herbs. Once the vegetables are done, add them to the saute pan with all the juices stirring until combined. Drain the pasta reserving some pasta water and add  the pasta to the saute pan mixing well. If the sauce needs more liquid, add enough pasta water or olive oil to achieve the desired consistency. Serve!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ethics Applied to…Aging (written by my Uncle Gene)

“But at my back I always hear….
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near…”
The English poet Marvell was actually trying to encourage his girlfriend to move a little faster in their relationship, but the poem applies quite well to life’s larger issues, like how we use our time, from day to day, and that brings up “The Ethics of Aging”
Ethics is a discussion of what one “ought” to do. The ethics of aging is fairly simple. There are a few easy guidelines everyone ought to follow. The tricky part comes in putting them into practice. Everyone ought to be physically active. Physiologists say that bodily organs deteriorate at about the rate of 1% per year, beginning around age thirty. While some degree of deterioration is inevitable, appropriate exercise can condition everything from heart and lungs and brain to bones, muscles and joints. While too much exercise can be as harmful than too little, relatively few people are in danger from too much exercise.
     The best exercises for most people of mature years turn out to be walking, bicycling, and swimming. Exercise as a chore is no fun at all, and if you are to persist, you must develop routines that are enjoyable. Walking the same area repeatedly must become a meditation exercise, lest it become boring. Some form of resistance training (weight-lifting) is good for the body: it might save you from a hernia lifting groceries, or some other heavy object, like income tax forms. Evidence shows that that weight-lifting exercises not only ward off osteoporosis, but also may help in preventing heart disease and cancer. You don’t have to join a gym: keep a couple small dumbbells around the house and lift them while watching TV, or waiting for a brilliant insight into the world’s political problems.  Another important physical activity is stretching: just standing up and stretching from time to time is good for you, and many books illustrate positions anyone can learn. (“The only thing most people stretch is the truth.”) Stretching does  good things for your body, and perhaps, yoga practitioners maintain, for your mind. The beneficial effects of Tai Chi are well documented in the scientific literature.
      Everyone “ought” to be mentally active. It’s surprising how much education you can get just from reading the newspapers well. The art of journalism is to popularize big ideas, and the best newspapers and magazines do this very well. Scientific breakthroughs, great philosophic concerns, matters of political urgency, all are thought-provokingly profiled in the popular press. Conference centers, Elderhostels, and institutions of higher learning all present golden opportunities for intellectual stimulation. Books and magazines can be sources of challenging ideas; studies show decreased brain wave activity after two hours of watching television. For most people, the greatest intellectual stimulation comes from conversation, and the people you talk to may do more than you realize to keep your mind sharp. It is not a bad idea to have a conversation partner somewhere who persistently disagrees with you: that keeps you thinking!
      Social connections are an important “ought” in terms of aging well. Human beings need other human beings: we need personal contact and touch. We all need to feel we are of some service to others. Families are built-in social devices, but most of us build “voluntary” families of those friends with whom we most closely associate. More than anything else, the social network we establish is what keeps us human. Among the friends whose contacts I value highly are family members, neighbors, students stretching back many years, a wide range of university colleagues, people I exercise with, and others whose perceptions of reality are so different from mine, they might make me doubt my sanity, if I didn’t already have some clear convictions along these lines.
     Aging ethically also demands the continuing acquisition of virtues. The older you are, the more likely you are to experience cancer, heart disease, and other life-threatening illnesses. It is only by developing the appropriate virtues that you have any chance of taking such large challenges in stride. Part of the wonder of being alive is the development of character, which comes by facing and overcoming challenges. Scott Peck once facetiously remarked: “people live longer these days because it takes longer to become virtuous.”
     While the body may deteriorate with time, the capacity for achieving a whole range of “excellences” does not diminish. As the poet might have said: “Grow old with me: the most interesting is yet to be....” Aging is an ethical challenge, and all of the virtues you acquire throughout your life may have their most serious challenges in your later years. Aging is something we are all doing, all the time. Doing it well is the real ethical challenge.
“Knowing when to be aggressive, and when to step back and admit defeat, is the better part of valor.” So said a political commentator recently about the situation in Afghanistan. I know nothing of politics or military strategy, but that comment applies to accepting life’s vicissitudes. There is a time to build our resources, and there is a time to relax and let go. The Chinese had it right: there is a yin and yang to things, a time to advance, and a time to accept what comes our way. Learning to go with the flow is one of life’s most challenging lessons.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Meg’s Veggie Won Ton Dumplings

I heart these won tons... and if there's one thing you do this week, it must be this (it's what I have planned)! The recipe comes from my neighbor and dear friend, Meg. 
My sister, Karen first introduced me to the “won ton wrapper” with a ground turkey recipe called “Steamed Won Ton Dumplings.” I made her delicious recipe for several years before I turned to a vegan diet.  I now make these delicious appetizers with a blend of vegetables and spices and they are equally (if not more) delicious! 

Meg’s Veggie Won Ton Dumplings

Yield: 36 dumplings

½ tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove
1 bunch (12-16oz.) fresh asparagus, trimmed, quartered crosswise
1 8oz. container water chestnuts, drained
3 green onions, white and green parts
3/4 cup shredded Napa or regular cabbage
2 carrots
1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
Kikkoman or Soy Vay Teriyaki Sauce

Finely mince ginger and garlic in food processor or hand food-chopper.  Add asparagus and next 5 ingredients.  Process/chop until asparagus and carrot is finely chopped but not pureed.  Moisten and flavor filling with Teriyaki Sauce.

Using wax paper or parchment paper, place 6 won ton wrappers on work surface.  Place 1 rounded tablespoon of filling in the center.  Moisten all four edges of wrapper with water, using a pastry brush.  Bring the four corners together at the top and seal the edges. 

Open a steamer basket and lay flat into a large skillet. Pour enough water into skillet to reach depth of ½ inch. Spray steamer basket with Pam. Bring water to a simmer.  Working in batches, arrange dumplings side by side (but not touching) on the rack.  Cover and steam the dumplings for 15 minutes. 

Serve dumplings at room temperature with Teriyaki Sauce

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hello, Twitter!

My daughter has finally introduced me to the world of Twitter! Follow me at @TheVeganTummy

Friday, August 27, 2010

The CSN Giveaway is over

And the winner of the CSN Gift Card Giveaway is.... (drum roll please) Allie!

Congratulations! I will email you, and CSN will be in contact. Thanks to everyone who entered!

And stay tuned for the most fabulous vegan won tons ever!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It’s a Giveaway!!

Yeah! I’m so excited to present this giveaway from CSN!!! 

I’ve seen this done on other blogs and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to offer one myself, (and once you go to their website, you’ll be thrilled too)! I was contacted by the people at CSN about doing a giveaway, and the best part of this giveaway is that it’s a $40 gift card with SO many choices that you're certain to find something you can’t live without. You want a 'Dutch Oven'? They’ve got it! Want an elliptical? They’ve got that too! Does your pooch need a new bed? Bingo! 

So here's the deal. CSN will give a $40 gift card to one reader. To have the chance of being THAT reader, go to their website (the link is, 'Dutch Oven') and leave a comment on this post telling me what you would love to have if you won.

The contest will be open for one week. At noon (EST) on Thursday, August 27th, the contest will be closed. I will pick a winner using and post it on Friday. Good luck!

Here's what you need to do:
1. Go to the CSN website (using the link, 'Dutch Oven') and tell me what 1 item you would love to have in your home
2. Be a follower of my blog ON my blog
3. Get the word out and post about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, whatever!
BTW, This is open to US and Canadian residents only. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Vegan Risotto Cakes

This recipe isn't low-fat or fast, but it's fun to make and really delicious... so it's worth it... right? I didn't take my own picture because I was so excited about eating it, I forgot! (I'll make it again and post a pic... I promise). In the meantime, the picture above is from the food network website.

The recipe was inspired by a couple of things... a dish I had at an Italian restaurant years ago (I've dreamed about it ever since) and some freshly picked ripe tomatoes that my sister-in-law gave me.

Buon appetito!

1 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 T thyme, finely chopped
1 C Arborio rice
1/4 C chardonnay wine
salt and pepper
1 box of No-Chicken Broth, 32 oz.

Heat the broth in a pan and keep warm on the stove top. In a medium size sauce pan, add the oil and heat over medium low. Once the oil is heated, add the onions and saute until slightly softened. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the thyme and rice and stir so the rice is coated. Add the wine and stir for a few minutes until the alcohol is cooked out. Now begin adding the broth, one or two ladles at a time. Stir the rice and as the rice absorbs the broth add more. Stir constantly and repeat the process of adding more broth as needed until little or no broth is left. This process will take approximately 25 minutes. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Finally, give it a liberal squeeze of fresh lemon juice, to taste.

2 t white truffle oil
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 large ripe tomato, skinless, seeded and chopped
1 T tomato paste
2 t chardonnay wine
salt and pepper to taste

Warm the truffle oil in a saute pan and add the garlic. Saute only until it becomes aromatic. Add the tomato and tomato paste and cook until it pulls together and becomes slightly thickened. Add the chardonnay and cook 2 minutes more. Season to taste.

Making the cakes:
oil for frying
Panko bread crumbs

Using a 1/4 C measure, measure out the risotto and press into cake like shapes. Dip the cakes in panko bread crumbs covering completely. Heat the oil in a saute pan and lay the cakes into the oil. Cook until browned and flip over browning the other side. Serve with a small dollop of tomato sauce.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Taboule Salad Sandwich

Here's a fast, easy and delicious sandwich that takes nothing to prepare and completely satisfies.  I used store bought ingredients, but if you have your own yummy homemade versions on hand... well, lucky you!

Taboule Salad Sandwich

Serves 1

1 pita
2-3 tablespoons of hummus
2-3 tablespoons of taboule
olive oil

In a saute pan, preheat a little oil. Lay a pita flat on a cutting board and spread the hummus over the entire surface. Do the same with the taboule. Cut the pita in half and fold it over so the hummus and taboule are sandwiched. Cook until the bottom is golden brown. Turn over and cook the other side until golden brown. Remove, slice into triangles and serve hot.

This would make a great hot hors d'oeuvre cut into small triangles!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Cantaloupe, Kiwi, Cucumber Salad

The camera is back and so am I... yeah!

And didn't I tell you my salad looked great!?

Now the story behind the recipe… I had company coming over for dinner and I wanted a quick, light salad that wasn’t leafy. I had read about combining cantaloupe with cucumber for summer salads, and I had both on hand, plus a kiwi! I put this combination together (very quickly) and served it with dinner. My daughter wasn’t impressed, but I really liked it and so did our friends. I’ll definitely serve it again (when she’s not around). 

So now you have to make it and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your ideas!!

Cantaloupe, Kiwi, Cucumber Salad

Serves 4

1/2 cantaloupe, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 English cucumber, peeled,seeded & cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1/8 C fresh lime juice
2T orange juice
pinch of salt

Toss the ingredients together and chill at least 1/2 hour. Then, just before serving, stir to coat with the dressing. Serve as is, or with salad greens.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Stuffed Artichoke Hors d'oeuvre

Before my switch to a plant-based diet I use to love making hors d'oeuvres. I had a long list of favorites. I would get excited about buying the ingredients, making the recipes and sharing them with family and friends. But since I no longer eat meat or cheese (the usual suspects in those recipes), I’ve had trouble finding appetizers that EVERYONE will enjoy.

Well… I’ve come up with a winner. It's elegant and delicious, easy and fun to make, and it may become my “go to” recipe. You'll have to try it and tell me what you think!

1 can of artichoke hearts
2 T olive oil
2 T onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1/2 C. packed baby spinach leaves, chop finely
6 T diced oyster mushrooms
1/8 t sea salt
3 T panko bread crumbs
fresh lemon

Drain the can of artichoke hearts and cut them in half. Scoop out the center of each half and mince the center leaves that you've removed. Set aside. Dry the in-tack artichoke hearts with a paper towel so little moisture is left.

In a saute pan, add the oil and heat to medium low. To that, add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the spinach, chopped artichoke, mushrooms and sea salt and saute until the mixture is cooked down nicely (only a few minutes). Finally, add the bread crumbs and heat through.

Scoop out enough mixture to fill each half of the artichoke hearts. It will work out perfectly if you don't overfill. Set the stuffed artichoke hearts onto a baking sheet and broil until the tops are nicely browned. Squeeze lemon over the top of them when they come out.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Artichoke, Onion, and Potato Hash

Here's another winner from Guy Fieri. I changed the recipe only slightly to make it vegan. If you don't have any broth you can make it without ... just omit the vinegar and add more oil. Thanks Guy! It's delicious!

Serves 4 as a side dish


  • Salt
  • 8 medium fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cipollini onions, peeled, sliced in half along equator
  • 1 (15-ounce) jar artichokes, (not marinated), with stems, drained, roughly chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 sprigs thymes, leaves chopped
  • 1/2 cup no-chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook until just tender. Drain and turn out onto a cutting board. Smash the potatoes with the side of a large knife or spatula.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the pan is very hot, but not smoking, add the cipollini onions, and cook until starting to caramelize, about 4 to 5 minutes Add in the drained artichokes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes before turning them so that they will caramelize. Add the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are starting to brown, then stir in the garlic and the thyme. Slowly pour in the no-chicken broth, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the vinegar and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Transfer to a platter and garnish with chopped parsley.