Sunday, September 29, 2013

Zucchini Pancakes

3 zucchini
3 eggs
1 cup corn meal
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
oil for cooking
optional toppings - additional eggs or avocado

1) Use a mandoline or food processor to finely grate or julienne the zucchini.
2) In a large bowl, mix the zucchini, eggs, corn meal, salt and cayenne to taste, until combined.
3) Heat skillet over medium heat. Add a tsp of oil (I used coconut oil) and drop spoonfuls of zucchini batter into the skillet, flattening each with the back of the spoon. Cook four minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
4) Optional - top with fried egg or sliced avocado.

Review: I keep believing that I've harvested the last of my zucchini. Yet, the garden keeps producing more! This was a great way to serve up a vegetable that I'm close to being tired of! It tasted slightly like hashbrowns, but the crispy green zucchini flavor was still there. I ended up not topping it with anything, as it was so tasty on it's own. I do believe the cayenne pepper gives a better flavor than black pepper for this particular dish.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Balsamic Lentil Saute

1 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch collard greens, rinsed and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups cooked lentils
2 Tbs balsamic glaze
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1) In a large saute pan, heat the garlic in the olive oil, over medium heat. Add collard greens and bell pepper and cook until greens begin to wilt.
2) Add the lentils and heat for another two minutes. Mix in the balsamic glaze and parsley.
3) Can be served over cooked rice.

Review: I didn't serve mine over cooked rice, because I had so much food. My measurements must have been off. The trick to this recipe is using the balsamic glaze (bought at Trader Joe's) and lentils that are precooked (often found in the produce section). This was really tasty and incredibly filling. Balsamic glaze may be my new favorite add-in!! It's like a balsamic reduction, sweet and thick, but prepackaged in a bottle.

Adapted from:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Espresso Brownies

3 Tbs espresso powder
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 large eggs
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
cooking spray for the pan

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray.
2) Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
3) Pour mixture into greased pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Review: This recipe originally called for 1/3 cup of dark chocolate covered espresso beans. I substituted the espresso powder. This had a strong chocolate taste, but also a strong espresso taste. If you're wanting more chocolatey, I'd reduce the espresso to 1 Tbs. What's most interesting about this gluten free brownie is the texture. Like most gluten free baked goods, it was not cakey. It was quite spongey, and occasionally I'd get a bite of bean skin. It was really good and super easy to make, though. I loved tossing it all into the blender and simply pouring it out!

Adapted from:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rainbow Quinoa Salad With Fava Beans & Herbs

1 cup rainbow quinoa
2 cups water
salt to taste
2 15oz cans of fava beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 Tbs chopped dill
2 Tbs chopped chives
3 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs champagne vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1) Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse several times with cold water. Heat a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat and add the quinoa. Stir until the water on the grains has evaporated and the quinoa begins to crackle and smell toasty. Add the water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 20 minutes, until the blonde quinoa grains display little white spirals and the water has been absorbed.
2) Mix in the fava beans and place a dish towel over the top of the pot and return the lid. Let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
3) Transfer to a large bowl. Add the herbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, salt to taste, garlic, mustard, pepper and the oil. Toss with the quinoa and bean mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Review: I somehow spaced that I needed chives. I could tell the dish was missing that little bit of oomph. I think the garlic should also be doubled. I took this to a family dinner, and everyone liked it. It was quick, easy and a flavor that blends well with many cuisines.

Adapted from:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash & Apple, With Candied Walnuts

1 1/2 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 cups butternut squash, diced into 1-inch chunks
2 cups apple (Honeycrisp, Cortland or Granny Smith), diced into 1-inch chunks
1 shallot, diced
2 Tbs olive oil
1/8 cup sage leaves, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup candied walnuts

1) Preheat oven to 375F. In a large, shallow roasting pan, toss the brussels sprouts, butternut squash, apples and shallot with olive oil and sage leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake without stirring until vegetables and apple are wrinkled, slightly brown and the edges of the squash are starting to crisp, 45 minutes to one hour.
2) Serve with candied walnuts sprinkled on top.

Review: This was initially a very complex recipe, which involved making the candied walnuts! Forget that, Trader Joe's has a wonderful bag of candied walnuts that made this dish much easier. It also called for drizzling a little maple syrup over the dish. I did that on my first bowl, but it didn't add anything to the flavor. When I went back for seconds, I omitted the maple syrup and it didn't taste any different. Therefore, leave it out! This was a wonderful Fall dinner. I'd never had roasted apples before, but doing this makes the apples tangier and more savory. Mmm, tasty!

Adapted from:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Peanut Chili

2 cups dry pinto beans
5 cloves minced garlic
3 Tbs onion powder
2 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 Tbs smoked paprika
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 1/2 cups white wine
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 Tbs espresso powder
1 1/2 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
5 Tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp dark brown sugar
avocado for garnish

1) Place all ingredients into slow cooker.
2) Cook on high for 5 hours.
3) Garnish with avocado. Serve over rice, if desired.

Review: I found this recipe months ago: However, I didn't have the time (nor desire) to slave over several pans, deglaze a pan and monitor a pot on the stove for hours. I also didn't feel like roasting corn and making an avocado salsa (though it sounds absolutely delicious!!). Maybe someday I'll do the recipe the right way. Until then, this is my quick, altered version. It had a darker, smokier taste than I typically get with chili.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dietary Changes

I had a lovely (detect sarcasm) visit with my allergist this morning. I've had a lot of gastrointestinal issues for the past few years. I've had every GI test known to science, and with the exception of a slow to empty stomach, there's been nothing found to be wrong.

In the past few months, I've seen quite a bit of news regarding food allergies. I've known for a long time that I'm allergic to nutmeg. However, it's not the typical hives-causing, throat-swelling, might kill you kind of allergy. It's always been a severe GI response. The recent news tells me that is actually a common response to food allergens. What?!! Along with acne, which I haven't been able to get my acne under control in almost a year.

My allergist entertained my whining about my symptoms and request to be tested for food allergies. He then explained there are few tests for food allergies, unless it's the severe stuff such as peanuts. He explained that it is common for people to be allergic to wheat and milk. I've been previously tested for Celiac Disease and was found to be negative. He further explained that even if someone is not technically allergic, they can have a significant metabolic disruption with the same symptoms. Huh. Would that explain why I become hypoglycemic after carby weekend meals?

So, the purpose of this disclosure is to announce a new slant to my blog. I need to give up wheat and dairy until further notice. I'll give it two months and see if it fixes everything. If so, my blog will become wheat & dairy free. If I see no difference, I will sequester myself for a weekend and binge on the Ben & Jerry's that I'm going to miss so dearly!

Bear with me as I make these changes. It's going to be really hard. As a vegetarian, I felt like social situations already made me pretty high-maintenance, but adding wheat and dairy free to that may make me a social pariah. Eesh. :(

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lavender Infused Lemonade

1/4 cup lavender
1 cup sugar
2 cups lemon juice

1) Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once it reaches boiling, remove from heat and steep lavender for 10 minutes (1/4 cup is roughly what fits in my tea strainer). Remove tea and pour the water into a heat-safe pitcher.
2) Pour sugar into the pitcher and mix until sugar is completely dissolved.
3) Add lemon juice and 4 cups of water. Refrigerate and enjoy once cooled.

Review: The recipe I used called for different proportions (1 cup of lavender, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup lemon juice and 4 cups water), but I thought that's too much sugar and lavender is too expensive to use that much. Regardless of the fact that I got a great deal on lavender at TJ Maxx, I didn't want to use half my container on a 1/2 pitcher of lemonade! My proportions worked great. The infused water had a purple tinge to it, which didn't taint the color of the lemonade that much. It was tasty lemonade, with a hint of floral/spicy lavender.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Spicy Grapefruit Margaritas

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp cayenne
24oz ruby red grapefruit juice
6oz tequila

1) To make the simple syrup, combine the water, sugar and cayenne in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and continue heating until the sugar is dissolved and the cayenne is blended. Cool in the fridge - ideally it'll be able to chill there for an hour or two before making the drinks.
2) Mix the syrup, juice and tequila in a pitcher. Shake and serve over ice.

Review: This is a variation of a recipe I found online. I doubled their recipe and found I had not bought enough tequila. Therefore, my margarita recipe had half the called for tequila and it was plenty strong!! Their recipe also called for twice the cayenne I have here. Mike's family unanimously agreed it was too much cayenne. However, they also all agreed the drink was tasty. I thought it was a nice twist on the typical margarita and perfect for my taco birthday party!

I don't have fancy margarita glasses, so the picture is the remainder from my party, in the pitcher:

Adapted from:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Swiss Chard Omelette (La Trouchia)

6 Tbs olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 lb Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
7 eggs
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbs parsley, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 to 8 small black olives

1) In a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, warm 3 Tbs of olive oil. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 1 minute. Add the Swiss chard and cook, stirring, just until the chard has wilted. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2) In a bowl, using a fork, beat the eggs until blended. Stir in half of the cheese and all of the garlic and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, then add the cooled chard mixture and stir briefly to mix.
3) Wipe out the frying pan with a paper towel and return to low heat. Add the remaining 3 Tbs olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the egg mixture and stir gently with a fork. Stop stirring as soon as the eggs start to become firm, about 3 to 4 minutes. Place a plate over the pan and, holding the plate and pan together, invert them and lift off the pan. Slip the omelette back into the pan and return to low heat. Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the top and cook, without disturbing, 2 to 3 minutes.
4) Slide the omelette from the pan onto a serving plate and dot the top with olives. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Review: Eek, this recipe made enough food for 4 to 6 people. It was a BIG breakfast this morning!!! But, it gave me a chance to showcase the beautiful Swiss chard I grew. It was freshly picked this morning and unlike my kale, it was 100% bug-free! This was a really savory omelette and didn't have a strong cheese taste. Delicious!

Adapted from: