Wednesday, June 26, 2013


In summer, I always seem to be cooking lots of vegetables. With all the farmer's markets, road-side stands and low grocery prices, I have been preparing kale, tomatoes and eggplant this past week. This blog is to display my vegan-love. Vance and I would have a hell of a time adhering to the vegan life-style (hello cheese...I love you), but I have great respect for my friends who do! These recipes are 'vegan-lite' because they have one dairy or protein in each. With a little adaption, I think my veges friends would enjoy.
kale salad
Finely shredded kale salad makes me feel like I am falling in love all over again. My work-friends (who are actually just friends, who I happen to work with) and I love the kale salad at Tavern, a local eatery we frequent for lunch. Jill nailed this recipe a few weeks ago and I gave it a whirl tonight.
1 bunch fresh kale, washed/dried and torn into small pieces
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 toasted nuts, crushed in the food processor (I used almonds)
1/3 cup EVOO
zest of a small lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan
lots of S&P to taste
Place batches of torn kale in food processor and pulse until a fine shred. This took about 2 batches. Place kale in a large bowl. Assemble dressing (EVOO, lemon zest and juice) separately and whisk well. Add raisins and nuts to kale. Dress the salad and add Parmesan - toss very well and add S&P. If the salad seems too dry, add a bit of EVOO. The dressing will absorb into the kale so taste as you go! Oh jeez - it. is. so. good.
eggplant & white bean burger

1 eggplant
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, diced
1-3 tablespoons EVOO
1/3 cup whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon flax seed (optional)
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can canneloni beans rinsed and drained
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel about 1/2 half of the eggplant and slice into 1/4 inch pieces, transfer to a greased baking sheet. Drizzle eggplant with a bit EVOO and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast the eggplant for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. While the eggplant is roasting, dice onion and heat up a bit of EVOO in a pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened. When the onion is done, add the eggplant, breadcrumbs, white beans and egg to your food processor and blend until smooth. Then add the onion, garlic and flax and blend until well combined. If necessary, stir the mixture as well. Chill for a minimum of an hour then assemble into patties. Baked, on greased pan, at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes (flipping half way through).
We enjoyed our burgers on a whole grain bun with cheddar cheese, lettuce and an heirloom tomato.
Enjoy these veggie specials!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

vidalia & basil season

On Sunday morning, I made a Vidalia Onion and Sweet Basil tomato sauce. My mom suggested I pick up a few Pomi tomato boxes for the base. These tomatoes are delicious and I had a few coupons so it was quite a deal!
1 large Vidalia sweet onion

3/4 cup (big handful) fresh basil, chopped

2 boxes Pomi Chopped Tomatoes

1 box Pomi Strained Tomatoes

2 tablespoons EVOO

3 garlic cloves, minced

1.5 teaspoon crushed red chile pepper

2-3 teaspoon dried oregano

3 teaspoon Kosher salt

1-2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Dice the onion and sautee until soft in EVOO (about 8 to 10 minutes over medium/high heat), stirring so onion doesn't burn. Lower heat to medium/low and add garlic and one box of chopped tomatoes. Stir well, add strained tomatoes and chile pepper, oregano, kosher salt and pepper. Turn off heat, add final box of chopped tomatoes and fresh basil. Stir well and taste for seasoning balance.

This recipe made about 2 quarts and a pint. Top with a bit of plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn,  and freeze until you are ready to enjoy! We are going to have some later this week with meatballs & pasta.
Happy Sunday all!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

summer vegfest

Summer vegetables are clearly in full-swing and today I picked up some zucchini, tomatoes and sweet onions. Paired with cumin and a flaky tilapia, this makes a great week-night dinner.
1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans (rinsed)
2 small chopped tomatoes 
2-3 small sliced zucchini 
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1 teaspoon cumin (divided in half)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
tilapia fillets (about 1 lb. total) 
half of a large sweet onion (or a small onion), diced
4-5 dashes Tabasco
Cook quinoa as package directs. Meanwhile, in a saute pan over medium heat, cook beans and vegetables with 1 tbsp oil, lemon juice, cumin and Tabasco until warm, about 15 minutes. Season with S&P and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Remove vegetables and beans to a bowl and add some EVOO to the pan. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, cook fish in remaining 2 tbsp oil until browned, 5 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cumin over fish. Serve fish over quinoa with vegetable and bean mixture atop. 
The vegetable mix yields leftovers that are great with just quinoa or cous cous. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

strawberry basil mojito

*makes 2 cocktails*
5-6 large strawberries, sliced
6-8 basil leaves, torn
simple syrup
Bacardi White Rum
club soda
Muddle 2-3 strawberries, about 3-4 basil leaves and 2 tablespoons simple syrup (adjust depending on how sweet you like your cocktails) in a tall glass. Add one to two shots of Bacardi and top off with club soda. Give a slight stir and garnish with a strawberry.
Very refreshing and not too sweet! This is a great way to use up some basil from the summer garden.

Friday, June 7, 2013

some of this and some of that

Last weekend, Vance and I celebrated our two year anniversary! We had a great dinner Saturday night at Sardinia and went to the driving range on Sunday (a little bit of something for everyone). Vance made us some delicious Planter's Punch. He made the drinks and I did the cookin'.
Wild Mushroom Ragoût on Crispy Polenta with Gruyere Cheese via Bon Appetite
2 cups whole milk
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
Mushroom Ragout
3 tablespoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (such as oyster, crimini, and stemmed shiitake), thickly sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
Generously butter 13x9x1- inch baking sheet. Bring milk, broth, and bay leaf to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove saucepan from heat; cover and let steep 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Discard bay leaf. Bring liquid to boil. Gradually add polenta, whisking constantly until smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until polenta is very thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Stir in cheese and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer polenta to prepared 13x9x1-inch baking sheet. Using wet hands, press polenta evenly over sheet to edges. Chill until firm, at least 3 hours. Cut polenta into 20 squares. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons oil in large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add all mushrooms and sauté until tender and browned, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add shallots and balsamic vinegar; sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Season lightly to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm mushrooms in large skillet over medium-high heat until heated through. Add broth and simmer 1 minute. Stir in heavy cream and half of parsley. Season mushroom ragout to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300°F. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add polenta squares to skillet and cook until browned, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven while cooking remaining polenta squares. Arrange 2 polenta squares on each plate. Top each with warm mushroom ragout; sprinkle with grated Gruyere cheese and remaining parsley and serve. This dish was a touch labor intensive for an appetizer, but would be great paired with salad for dinner.
Eggplant with Roasted Bell Pepper, Quinoa & Goat Cheese
3 tablespoons oil, divided
½ onion, diced
1 large eggplant, quartered lengthwise and then chopped ½-1 inch thick
3 cloves garlic, diced, divided
1 small jalapeno, diced (seeds removed)
1 splash balsamic vinegar
½ cup sliced roasted red peppers
½ cup crumbled goat cheese
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
In a pot heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add quinoa and garlic. Cook stirring occasionally for a few minutes. Add broth, turn heat to high until it comes to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes, or until water is absorbed. In a pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook for a few minutes then add eggplant. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Add 2 cloves chopped garlic, balsamic vinegar, roasted pepper, and the jalapeno. Cook for a few minutes, then remove from heat. Serve over quinoa with goat cheese.