Sunday, May 15, 2016

Vegetable Orzo Soup

Even though we have had record breaking heat this Spring, we've also had our share of cool days. Temperatures can vary 20-25˚F from one day to the next.  This means we still have some days that are prefect for soup.

This recipe came about as I was trying to use up some miscellaneous veggies in the fridge.  One of those "lets see what I can make from this" kind of moments.

I think it turned out pretty well so I made sure to write it down.  It also tastes great leftover, but the orzo soaks up most of the broth.  When eating leftovers you may be left with a thick pasta dish unless you add more broth when reheating it.

In this recipe I have used water and bouillon to make a stock mixture.  Feel free to use 6 cups of vegetable stock or whatever mixture of flavors you would like to add up to about 6 cups of liquid.



1-1/2 cups of chopped Celery
2 large Carrots, sliced
1 large yellow Onion, diced
5 cloves Garlic, minced
2 small Zucchini, sliced into half moons
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 - 14.5 oz can Fire Roasted Tomatoes (no salt added)
6 cups of Water
2 tsp No Chicken Bouillon
2 tsp Vegetable Bouillon
1 to 1-1/2 cups Orzo Pasta
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 can Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2-3 large handfuls of fresh Spinach


1.  Add about 1/4 cup of water to a large soup pot.  Sauté celery, carrot, onion, garlic, zucchini, and green pepper for a few minus until they soften.

2.  Add the canned tomatoes, the water and bouillon (or stock), orzo pasta, and Italian Seasoning. Bring to a Boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Simmer approximately 10 minutes until pasta is almost cooked.  Make sure to stir every few minutes so the orzo does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

3.  Add chickpeas and spinach and simmer for 4-5 more minutes until chickpeas are hot, the spinach is wilted, and the pasta is al dente.

4.  Serve sprinkled black pepper and with a side of crusty bread for dipping.

(Packaging leftovers to have for lunch the next day)
- Bon Appetit

"To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup." - Laurie Colwin

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pick A Fruit Coffee Cake Squares

I figured it was time to post something a little sweet.  With strawberries and rhubarb just coming into season this is a good recipe.  Of course I made this recipe a month or so ago and instead of fresh fruit I used some frozen local raspberries and blueberries we picked last summer.  While you can use one fruit, you can always mix and match fruits as long as you use the same total quantity.

I enjoy this recipe because not only can you use any fruit, but it is very easy to make.  It looks like a lot of ingredients, but that is just because I have separated them by layers so you don't confuse the individual amounts of sugar, flour, and coconut oil with the total amounts.

I've made the recipe many times over the last 27 years.  It is a recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook I purchased sometime back in 1988-89 that I have adapted to be vegan.

In the pictures I've used an Ener-G egg replacer.  You can always use a flax egg and it will work, I was just out of ground flax seed.


1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen Fruit
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Sugar (I used organic raw sugar)
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1-1/2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 - 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
4 Tbsp vegan Margarine or Coconut Oil
1/2 cup Non-Dairy Milk
1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Flax Egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 Tbsp water) OR 1 Ener-G Egg substitute
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 Tbsp vegan Margarine or Coconut Oil
1/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F (176˚C).  Spray an 8-inch or 9-inch square glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2.  For the filling:  In a medium saucepan combine the fruit and 1/4 cup water.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Combine 1/4 cup sugar and the cornstarch and then add to the fruit mixture.  Cook and stir until about 2 minutes until thickened and bubbly.  Set aside.

3.  For the batter:  In a small dish combine your non-dairy milk and vinegar and set aside.  In separate dish mix the flax egg or energy egg and set aside.

4.  In a medium mixing bowl combine the 1-1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Cut in 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) of margarine or coconut oil until small crumbs remain.    Add flax egg/Ener-G egg and vanilla to non-dairy milk and stir to combine.  Add wet to dry and stir until moistened.  Add a little extra non-dairy milk if it seems too dry.

5.  Spread 1/2 of the batter in the prepared glass dish.

6.  Spread evenly with the fruit filling.

7.  Drop remaining batter by spoonfuls onto fruit mixture.  9 spoonfuls seem to work well and act as a guide for cutting later.

8.  For the topping:  In small dish combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup flour.  Melt last 2 Tbsp margarine or coconut oil and mix into sugar/flour mixture until crumbly.  You can also add a little cinnamon to the topping.  Sprinkle on top of coffee cake.

9.  Bake in 350˚F oven for 40-45 minutes.  Please note I used coconut oil in the pictures in this recipe so while the squares are baked well, they did not brown on top like when using a vegan margarine. Remove from oven and let dish cool on a wire rack.

10.  Cut into squares and enjoy.  If serving the squares when they are still warm, you'll want to use a fork to eat them. If they are completely cool you can pick up the squares and eat them with your fingers.  Cover leftovers loosely with wax paper and they will last for a few days at room temperature.

- Bon Appetit

"  Life is short. Eat dessert first." - Ernestine Ulmer

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Unstuffed Smothered Roasted Sweet Potatoes

A lot of people enjoy stuffed baked potatoes or even stuffed sweet potatoes.  I, for some reason, don't like baking potatoes in the oven for an hour. They tend to turn out tough on the outside and it isn't always easy to get them perfectly cooked inside.

So, I turn to unstuffed potatoes or sweet potatoes. I saw a recipe some time ago on The Simple Veganista for Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with a Sriracha Cashew Cream Sauce.  See original recipe HERE.  While I thought it was a great idea, I didn't want to bake the sweet potatoes that long.

The result - Smothered roasted sweet potatoes. Yumm.  The recipe below serves 2.  If you are not a fan of broccoli you can use any veggie.

The cashew cream sauce is really tasty.  If you use a little less water I think it would be good as a dip for tortilla chips or even as a sandwich spread on a wrap or pita.


2 Small or 1 Large Sweet Potato or Yam
1 Broccoli Crown
1/2 Avocado
1/2 cup Cashews, soaked at least 30 minutes (drain and rinse after soaking)
1/4-1/3 cup Water
1 clove Garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1 Tbsp Sriracha Sauce (or less to taste)
** Black pepper and salt (optional)


1.  Preheat oven to 425˚F (218˚C).  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  I use the olive oil spray from Trader Joes.

2.  Wash sweet potatoes or yams.  I do not peel them, you can if you like.  Cut into 1 inch chucks.  Place on foil and spray with olive oil. Sprinkle with black pepper and/or salt if desired.  

3.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn over chunks of potato.  Return to oven and bake for an additional 12 minutes. Remove from oven when done.

4.  While the sweet potatoes/yams are baking, cut the broccoli  crown into florets.  Steam the florets until bright green and al dente.  Chop or slice avocado.

5.  In a blender (I use a Vitamix) blend the cashews, 1/4 cup water, garlic, nutritional yeast, and sriracha.  Add a tablespoon or two more of water until it is the desired consistency for drizzling.

6.  To assemble.  Divide the sweet potatoes/yams into two serving dishes.

7.  Divide broccoli florets evenly between the two dishes.

8.  Drizzle the cashew cheese sauce over the sweet potatoes and broccoli.

9.  Top with the chopped avocado and sprinkle with black pepper.  Enjoy.

- Bon Appetit

"My dream is to become a farmer.  Just a Bohemian guy pulling up his own sweet potatoes for dinner." - Lenny Kravitz

Sunday, March 27, 2016

My Favorite Breakfast (Rice Cakes-Hummus-Avocado)

This may seem rather odd, since most people wouldn't think of it as traditional breakfast food, but my favorite breakfast is a few rice cakes spread with hummus and then topped with avocado. 

This isn't just a favorite breakfast, I also eat it often as a lunch or even a snack.  With dozens of varieties of rice cakes and hundreds of varieties of hummus you can really mix it up a bit.  It is also gluten free, just make sure to check your hummus if that is a concern.

The red/magenta hummus in this post is beet hummus from Trader Joes. For rice cakes it is nice to have a variety and sometimes I use the Koku Seaweed with a hint of wasabi. When choosing rice cakes it is best to feel the whole package to make sure it hasn't been dropped.  More than once I've gotten home with a crushed package I've had to return/exchange later.



Rice Cakes (I like Lundberg Organic)
1/2 an Avocado
Ground Black Pepper
Nutritional Yeast


1.  Spread hummus on rice cakes.  Three or four rice cakes make a nice size meal, two are better for a snack.

2.  Slice half of an avocado.  Place slices on top of hummus.

3.  Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and nutritional yeast.

Enjoy the crunch.

(Rice cakes with hummus and avocado)
- Bon Appetit

"I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast anytime" so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance." - Steven Wright

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Curried Stuffed Squash

I have posted recipes for stuffed squash before, but this one has an entirely different flavor.  Not only does the curry spice add flavor to the dish, but using delicata squash so that you can eat the peel is a bonus.

This recipe is based off of one I found online several years ago, but I don't remember where I found it. I have changed up the spices a little, added garlic, and made it vegan.


2 large or 3 small Delicata Squash, halved with seeds scraped out
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 small Onion, minced
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp ground Black Pepper
2 tsp Curry powder
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/2 cup Raisins or dried Cranberries
1 large or 2 small Apple, cored and diced
1/2 cup Cashews, coarsely chopped
2 cups cooked Brown Rice (can substitute Quinoa)
1/3 cup plain vegan Yogurt (I used a plain unsweetened coconut yogurt)
1/3 cup Mango Chutney


1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F (176˚C).  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  Place the squash cut side down on the foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

3.  For the filling:  While squash is cooking melt coconut oil in a large sauté pan.  Saute onions and garlic until softened.  Add the black pepper, curry powder, and cinnamon and stir well. 

4.  Add in raisins or dried cranberries, chopped apple, and chopped cashews.  Saute until apples have cooked and softened.  

5.  Add brown rice and stir.  Add in yogurt and the mango chutney. Stir until well combined and heated through.  Remove from heat.

6.  Remove squash from oven and heap the filling into the squash halves.  You may have leftover filling which you can store in the refrigerator for another day, or serve on the side with the meal.

(Stuffed and ready to bake again)
7.  Put stuffed squash back into oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve sprinkled with black pepper and salt if desired.

Pictured in this recipe are two large squash, halved. I did have leftover filling, which we ate on another day.  Serves 4-6 depending on size of squash and if you have a side salad or warmed pitas with the meal.

- Bon Appetit

"  You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook's year.  I get more excited by that than anything else." - Mario Batali

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Marinated Tempeh Burgers

Once again, I apologize for how long it has been between posts.  My iMac decided that the version of Safari I was using was not going to play nicely with Blogger anymore. I've now upgraded and can once again post from home.

We have a tendency to make this recipe more frequently in the summer, but it is tasty any time of year. I have made it for company as well and it seems to be a hit.

If you want to make a gluten free version, make sure to use gluten free tempeh, tamari, and bread.  

While the pictures you see are using a torta bun, they are also good when using a toasted English Muffin instead and that keeps the calorie count down.


1 - 8oz pkg Tempeh ( I use Trader Joe's brand Organic - the rectangle shape is easier than square)
2 tsps Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Unsweetened Apple Juice or Apple Cider
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce or Tamari
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
*** a few slices of Daiya or Chao vegan cheese and other burger fixings such as lettuce, avocado, or pickles


1.  In a small bowl whisk together the apple cider vinegar, apple juice, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, and olive oil.  Set aside.

2.  There are two ways to make the tempeh burgers.  You can cut the rectangle of tempeh into two thick square halves and marinate them that way, or you can then take those halves and slice them horizontally and make a total of 4 thinner "patties".  Both are good, but the marinade will be absorbed into the patties better when thinner.  A sharp knife is needed to make 4 thin ones.

3.  Either place the tempeh and marinade together in a Ziploc style bag or place into a shallow pan where the marinade will coat the tempeh and you can turn them every so often to make sure they are marinated evenly.  Putting them in a Ziploc is easiest.

4.  Place in the refrigerator and let set for at least 1 hour minimum.  Turn over at 30 minutes.  They are best if you put them in to marinate that morning or even the night before. The longer they marinate the tastier they'll be. 

5.  To cook them, you can either grill them on your BBQ or bake them.  I usually bake them as I like to roast potatoes or asparagus as a side dish to go with them and can bake them for the same length of time.  Place on a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and bake in a 425˚F oven for 12 minutes each side.  Make sure you baste on some extra marinade when turning. 

6.  Just before they are done top with cheese and return to oven until cheese is melted.  Remove from oven and build your burger.  We like to stack two of the thin tempeh patties to make a double burger.

(Tempeh burger with Ciao cheese, pickles, lettuce, and spicy avocado hummus)
- Bon Appetit

" You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars." - Charles Kuralt