Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Transition to Vegetarianism

After much consideration, I am officially a vegetarian as of tomorrow, December 1st. Why tomorrow and why the first? Just because it's the start of the month and there's something cleansing about it. I've been thinking about turning to a vegetarian diet for quite some time; heck, most of the food I eat is vegetarian. The more and more I learn about health benefits and animal treatment, the more I am convinced that this is a good thing for me. In honor of my this monumentous occasion, I ate my (hopefully) last cheeseburger for dinner. Ew. Can't say I'll miss it much. At all. And they forgot my onions on top of it. Insanity!!! That's it, no onions, I won't eat cheeseburgers again! Okay, my little fake rant is done for now. After my swearing off cheeseburgers, I dropped by the bookstore to buy a new vegetarian cookbook. I got the 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes (ed Spitler and Yoakam). I went through it and wow, I tagged a lot of recipes. Can't wait to start cooking!! So stay tuned and I'll be sure update you of all random food cravings!

P.S. If you have any good tips or awesome foods I should try, let me know!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup

Jet lag has continued to kick my behind, so this morning I was up bright and not so bushy tailed at 4:15am. Since I was extremely awake, I went into work early. As soon as I walked out the door, I wished I was back in my very warm apartment. It was ridiculously cold! It had to be 10 below. Okay, so my Phoenix blood is convinced that it was 10 below, but it was in the 30s. Still an evil temperature no matter which way you slice it. I definitely need some comfort food!! Thankfully, I have some wonderful fall veggies.

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 parsnips, peeled, and chopped
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion (or green onions)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup applesauce (no additives)
1/4 cup fat free milk
2-3 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin

Roast the butternut squash and parsnips in the oven until lightly golden and soft. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the onions, salt and pepper (about 1 teaspoon each) and saute under low heat for about 15 minutes.

Add the roasted veggies to the pot and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the applesauce. Then in batches, remove the mixture and puree in a blender or food processor. Return the pureed mixture to the pot. Add the paprika, cumin, and milk and mix well. Add the stock to the pot as well, careful not to add too much or the soup will be very thin. Cook (stirring frequently) for about 15 minutes further, adding in stock as needed.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with additional paprika.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Vegan Chocolate-Blueberry Cake

I found a great blog Fat Free Vegan and tried out the Chocolate Blueberry Cake. (http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2010/07/chocolate-blueberry-cake.html) Rather than using extra blueberries on top, I used fresh pomegranates. (I kind of ran out of blueberries...I plan well.) I loved this cake so much that I ended up make another two days later for Thanksgiving. Little addicting...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quinoa with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Since this is my first night back in town, I decided to have a dinner without spending $30 (a feat that is practically impossible in Oahu). Considering that I also indulged quite a bit, I need to treat my body to some good old fashioned whole grains and veggies. (Sadly, I'm still craving the grasshopper.)


1 large bunch of cilantro
1/2 cup soy sauce (try for low sodium)
1/4 cup pear vinegar (odd, but strangely works well)
1/2 onion
1 1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients until smooth.


1 cup quinoa, cooked (boil in two cups water until all fluid is gone)
2 medium carrot, peeled
2 celery stalks
1 clove garlic
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon parsley
1 large egg

Place the quinoa in a medium bowl to cool. Meanwhile, in the food processor, combine the carrot, celery, and garlic. Then add the mixture to the bowl. Add the salt, parsley, and egg. Combine well.

Using your hands, form patties (about 3-4 inches in diameter) and cook in a large pan for about 4 minutes on each side. Remove to plate and top with sauce.


Alas, I am back. I had gone away on vacation to Oahu this past week. Needless to say, I really, really don't want to be back where it is so cold!! I miss it already and I've been back for about 10 hours. A couple of my very good friends got married and I was honored to be part of their wedding. I have to say, they know how to do it right! The food was absolutely amazing. There wasn't one thing that I didn't like, much to my panic when my zipper got temporarily snagged on the bridesmaids dress. Thankfully, it fit fine and I was able to continute eating and drinking. The photos here were of a couple of the desserts served at the rehearsal dinner. There was a chocolate mousse tower/bomb of sorts and the "grasshopper", the one I had. it was a rich chocolate cake with mint and ganache. Amazing!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Metro Cooking Show

I enjoyed an amazing day yesterday! I went to the Metro Cooking Show (with my free ticket!!) with my friend Kim. She's a culinary student, so she was the perfect person to come along. Admit it, food lovers, we can be quite interesting. I personally think in a good way... Here's an example. Kim and I were going up and down the rows when we both saw a booth for fresh herbs. We both shouted to each other and zig zagged through the crowd to get there. We may or may not have taken out some innocent bystanders in the process. By the way, 2 plants for $3!! Organic, fresh, beautiful herbs for $1.50 each! Amazing. Shockingly, we had to purchase some. There were so many vendors there and taste testing at just about every booth. It was such a blast!

Honey Cakes

My niece is having a bake sale this Tuesday to raise funds for a big cultural exchange program (so proud of her!). So, today, I'm baking a bunch of goodies.

2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs

In a small pot, heat the butter, sugar, and honey together. After the butter has melted, remove from heat and continue to stir until the sugar is dissolved. In a medium bowl, mix the flour and spices together. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture. Mix well. Then add the eggs and mix well. Make these into cupcakes or cakes. I chose to make mini-bunt cakes. (Make sure you lightly grease the pans.) Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly browned.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I won!!!

I actually won something! A fellow blogger, Happy When Not Hungry (http://happywhennothungry.wordpress.com/), held a contest to win a free ticket to the Metro Cooking Show. Two days worth of cooking demonstrations, celebrity showings (I have to get Rachael Ray's autograph)...and I won! I will be there taking lots of pictures and soaking everything in. I plan on walking away with lots of new recipes and ideas to try. Thank you again Kara for the ticket!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chicken and Potatoes

For lunch today, I went out with a friend and for the soup of the day, they had rosemary chicken soup. I didn't get it (I was craving their breakfast wrap...thank goodness for places that serve breakfast all day), but it got me wanting some comfort food. One of my favorite dishes my dad would make us was lemon chicken with roasted potatoes.

Chicken breasts (1 for each person)
Half lemon, sliced
5 garlic cloves (leave whole)
Potatoes, cut into wedges

In a glass baking dish, place the lemon slices on the bottom of the dish. Place the chicken on top of the lemon. Then add the garlic and potatoes around the chicken. Add about 1/2 cup water to the pan and back at 375 for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are soft (test by piercing with a fork).

Pumpkin Cookies

I haven't made anything with pumpkin yet this fall season. Seems like a crime against nature, I know. I came across a bunch of recipes for pumpkin. Cookies, breads, pies, ravioli (which I definitely need to try out soon). Below is a combo of a bunch of the cookie recipes. (PS Work friends, you're getting a lot of cookies tomorrow.)

2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Then in a medium bowl, cream both sugars and butter together. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract to the sugar mixture. With a spatula, combine the sugar and flour mixtures together. Drop one teaspoon of the batter onto greased cookie sheets. They do not spread much so leave about one inch between each cookie. Cook at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until lightly browned.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Yesterday was the big gnocchi day. I was quite excited by this. My dad had given me two recipes for gnocchi. An egg and potato recipe and then a plain potato one. I went with the plain potato gnocchi, being more traditional. Can't say I mastered gnochhi yet, but thankfully, they tasted so good, that I don't mind practicing!

*Side note: No pictures today. My attempts of rolling them on the fork failed so miserably that I was a little embarrassed to show the public. :-)

2 large Russet potatoes (enough to one person with leftovers)
about 1 1/2 cups of flour

Peel the potatoes and place in a boiling pot of water. Cook through. Remove from water and place in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or fork, mash the potatoes well. I had to wait for the potatoes to cool a bit before I was able to move onto the next step.

Add about 1 cup of the flour to the potatoes, and using your hands, incorporate well. When a dough forms, transfer to a floured surface and continue to knead. I had to add in about another half cup of flour to get a good consistency. You don't want the dough to be too sticky.

Meanwhile, boil a medium pot of water. (Lightly salted)

Breaking off a bit of the dough, roll between your hands to form a rope, about half an inch thick. Cut the rope into 1 inch pieces.

I had some difficulty getting the process of rolling the dough on the fork. After a bit, I gave up (was getting quite hungry) and cooked them as is. That is an art that I will have to continue practicing.

Once the water is boiling, drop the gnocchi into the water. They are cooked once they float to the surface. They will puff up quite a bit. Transfer the pasta to a serving plate and lightly toss with sauce. I chose a vodka sauce (thanks for the tip Dad!) and garnished it with fresh basil leaves.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I've been frustrated with taking better food pictures. I've seen so many photos out there that are absolutely beautiful. This is my attempt at improving my skills.

While I was sitting in traffic on the home tonight from teaching, I pretty much only thought of what to make for dinner. Needless to say, I was a bit hungry by the time I got home. Here's what I made up.

2 large Green Peppers
1 Medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Brown rice, cooked
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Slice the top of the peppers off, remove the seeds, and hollow out. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the tomato, cheese, onion garlic, rice, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the peppers. Cook in oven at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers


I have many dried herbs in my kitchen. One that I love making tea with is lavender. I crush a small amount and add it to green teas. I have the caffeine from the green tea, but the calming nature of the lavender. Or just using the lavender alone puts me to a peaceful sleep. There's something about it that makes me just want to take a large inhale, followed by a satisfying sigh. In the early spring, I've also used small amounts in fresh salad dressings.

I currently have a lot (truly a lot) of lavender. I am on a hunt to find more culinary uses for it. If you have any ideas, please share!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pasta with Wild Mushrooms

When my father visited last weekend, he brought me a bunch of cookbooks, mainly for baking, but there was one for pasta. I love pasta. I mean, it is quite possible the most versatile food out there. Amazing! (For those of you who have read my first posts will remember that I purposely condensed all my cookbooks recently to I didn't have tons of cookbooks stashed everywhere. Yeah, now I have six more. Darn.) I was flipping through it and found a yummy looking recipe for linguine with wild mushrooms. I ended up using spaghetti since that's all I had on hand. Here is an adaption of that recipe. (Of course I had to change it up a bit! I mean really, who has heard of a pasta recipe with only one clove of garlic??? Unnatural.)

Linguine (or spaghetti, angel hair...)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
Assortment of mushrooms (I used about 12 ounces of button, portabello, and shitake), sliced
1 cup sour cream
Salt and Pepper

In a large pot boil water for the pasta. Heat a large skillet under low- to medium-heat. Add butter, garlic and onion. Saute until just soft. (Do not brown or overcook.)

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.

Add the mushrooms and allow to cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. I add a splash of water (very little) to help the mushrooms release their juices. Mix in the sour cream and incorporate well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the pasta to the skillet and toss well. Heat for another couple of minutes, then serve.