Monday, March 6, 2017

Smoked Brussels Sprouts, Portabellinis, and Pancetta!

Those who know me, know that I've been on a plant-based journey for about a year. What that means (for me) is that I eat whole-foods-plant-based about 80% of the time, and try to limit my meat,dairy, eggs, and fat the other 20% of the time. I love seafood and CHEESE and filet mignon and could never give these foods up completely. But I can limit them. So I eat pretty clean during the week and give in to a little meat and cheese on the weekends. 

Dave gave me a smoker for my birthday (he's thanking his lucky stars that his wife prefers cooking utensils and apparatus over diamonds), so this dish came about last weekend because 1) it was the weekend! and 2) I had just come home from a trip and had brussels sprouts and mushrooms that were going to expire in the fridge and 3) it was still pretty healthy with just a bit of meat thrown in for texture and flavor. I've found my new favorite way to cook brussels sprouts and mushrooms!

 My husband (who DOES NOT like Brussels Sprouts) really liked these. 


1 lb Brussel Sprouts (bottom stems sliced off, and cut in half)
 6 Portabellini Mushrooms (small Portabellas) stems removed and quartered
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Pappy's Seasoning (or another grilling blend)
Pancetta (thinly sliced)

Heat a smoker to 250 degrees or light a grill and move the coals to one side, so you can cook on the other. If using a grill, you want a lower heat so use less coals. Shoot for 250 F if you have a thermometer.

Put the Brussels Sprouts halves and the Portabella quarters in a large ziplock bag with the Olive Oil, salt, pepper and grilling blend (I used Pappy's), seal and shake to coat evenly. Can be done up to several hours ahead. Pour into a foil tray. Chop the pancetta into small pieces (as seen above) and spread over the top. 

Place in the smoker, I have an electric, so after I put the veggies in I added about 1/2 cup of mesquite chips. If using a grill, put some mesquite (or other) chips in a foil tray on top of the coals on one side of the grill, then put the tray with the veggies on the other side for indirect heat. 

Let it hang out in the smoker or grill at 250F for about an hour, then add more chips for smoking and cook another 1/2 hour. It's done when the brussels sprouts are tender. Mine took 1 and 1/2 hours, but if it's not done for you at that time, give it another 1/2 hour.

Delicious, Crispy Black Bean Tostadas!

It's been a long winter! I've been so busy with work and school that I've neglected posting anything for awhile. But this recipe was just what I needed to get back in the swing of things. It's whole foods-plant based with no added oil, so not only is it delicious, but you can feel good about eating it...and also feel good after eating it! I happened across a post from The New York Times that showed how to microwave tostada shells, retaining the crispness without any added oil. I'm happy to report that it turned out fantastic! 

For the beans:
1/4 to 1/2 Red Onion (depending on how much onion you want)
2 tsp minced garlic (or more if you're like me and love garlic)
4 Tbsp Veg Broth
2 cans Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Taco Seasoning ( I make my own with a mixture of garlic, chile powder, onion powder, paprika, and thyme, but you can use a packaged mix)

For the toppings: (Use anything you like)
Chopped Spinach
Diced Tomatoes
Pico de Gallo (I purchased a pre-made mix)
Guacamole or avocados (make sure if you buy the Guacamole that it's no oil added)

For the shells:
Corn Tortillas

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat, add the Onion and Garlic, stir frequently and add the Veg Broth a bit at a time just to prevent sticking. Saute for about 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to low and continue stirring and sauteing for about 5 - 10 more minutes. The longer you go, the more flavor it adds. Add the Black Beans, Salt, Pepper and Taco Seasoning, and a couple more tablespoons of Veg Broth and stir occassionally for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

 While your beans are cooking, chop the Spinach, dice the Tomatoes, and set out your Pico de Gallo (optional), and Guacamole or Avocados and Salsa.

 When your beans are done and your toppings are "fixed," take four corn tortillas and set them on a plate in the microwave. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Turn over and microwave for another minute. It depends on your microwave, but I needed to turn and  microwave mine one minute longer. Then keep turning and microwaving in 30 second increments until lightly browned and crisp. Mine took  4 more each of 30 second intervals until they were crispy enough. Just keep checking them. You want them to be brown, but not dark brown and burnt The side on the bottom gets browner, so if one side seems brown but the other is not, put the paler side down and zap it for another 30 seconds until they are light brown on both sides and crisp. Set aside and repeat with four more corn tortillas.

Place two tostada shells on each plate, top with the black bean mixture, spinach, tomatoes, pico de gallo, guacamole or avocados, and salsa.

As you can see in the photo, I enjoyed mine with a nice glass of Pinot Grigio, I'm sure you can figure this part out on your own.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Stuffed Petrale Sole with Mushrooms!

So, my current goal is to take some of my previous, delicious, fat-laden recipes and come up with something a little healthier. My previous stuffed Petrale sole recipe used lots of butter. This recipe only uses a little Earth's Balance for that creamy butter feeling, but with a lot less fat.


2 Petrale Sole fillets 
Onion Powder
Cajun/Creole Seasoning
1 Tbsp Earth's Balance Vegan "Butter"

For the stuffing:

1/4 of a whole Red Onion, diced finely
6 - 8 White Mushroom, stems removed, sliced
1 Tbsp Earth's Balance Vegan "Butter"

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the stuffing first: Saute the diced onion and sliced mushrooms in the Earth's Balance "Butter" for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and mix through. Set aside.

Season the fillets with the Salt, Onion Powder, and Creole Seasoning. Place 1/2 of the mushroom stuffing mixture in the middle of the fillet, and roll up. Place on non-stick cooking sheet, seam side down, and repeat with the other fillet. 

Sprinkle the rolled-up fillets with salt, onion powder and cajon seasoning, and top with 1/2 Tbsp Earth's Balance "Butter" each.

Bake the fillets for 20 minutes in the 400 degree F oven.

Ready to Serve!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Crispy Spinach and Mashed Potato Pancakes!

Last night, I made my delicious Garlic Mashed Potatoes (3 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes, boil until tender, mash with 2 Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Butter or regular butter, 1/4 Cup Non-Dairy milk or regular milk, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp garlic powder). I served the mashed potatoes with fresh spinach sauteed in a tablespoon of Coconut Oil. 

And then I had leftovers. I decided to throw the leftover spinach in with the leftover mashed potatoes, put it in the fridge and called it a day. 

Fast forward to tonight. I got home late after working all day and attending an orientation for one of my fall college classes. But I'm HUNGRY, and my hubby is hungry but I didn't feel like cooking for hours. I could have just heated up the leftover mashed potatoes and spinach, but how boring is that? 

So I prepared a Swai fillet for my hubby (I rarely eat meat) and decided the leftover mashed potatoes and spinach were just crying out to be turned into mashed potato pancakes. I don't have good memories of mashed potato pancakes because the (seemingly) standard addition of flour and eggs took away from the deliciousness of the mashed potatoes. So I substituted Potato Flour for regular, and used a flax egg (1Tbsp Ground Flax Seed with 2 Tbsp Non-Dairy Milk). 

The results were sooooo delicious! Even though they were vegan, my hubby (a card-carrying carnivore, dairy, and egg-eater) loved them! I did too! So here's the recipe:


2 Cups Leftover Mashed Potatoes (see recipe above)
1/2 Cup Leftover Sauteed Spinach (see above)
4 Tbsp Potato Flour, plus more for coating
1 Flax Egg (1 Tbsp Ground Flax Seed mixed with 2 Tbsp Non-Dairy Milk, let stand for about 5 minutes before mixing with the potatoes)
1 tsp Salt

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Heat the 2 Tbsp Olive Oil in a large skillet on medium high until very hot.

While the oil is heating, mix the Leftover Mashed Potatoes with the Leftover Spinach. Add the 4 Tbsp Potato Flour, Flax Egg, and the tsp of Salt. Mix well. 

Take about a 1/3 to a 1/2 Cup of the Mashed Potato mixture and pack into a ball. Dust the mashed potato ball in potato flour. Repeat for as many pancakes as you want.

When the oil is hot, place the mashed potato balls in the skillet (I fit 4 in the skillet), and lightly mash them down with your fingers to make a 1/2" tall pancake. Turn the heat down to medium. Cook until browned (about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the strength of your burners) and carefully flip to the other side.Cook until browned to your liking on both sides.

Remove to a plate, sprinkle with Kosher Salt,  and ready to serve!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Berry Shortcakes with Coconut Whipped Cream!

If you've read my posts, you know that I'm a fan of Try The World delivery boxes. I've tried several other delivery boxes and always ended up throwing away certain items that I just would never use. Try The World sends a box every two months with ingredients from the highlighted country, and, so far, I've found a use for all of the ingredients. But, my last box, the Swedish box, came with a bottle of Elderflower syrup. What am I going to do with that? It's been hanging out in my pantry, and I finally got the idea that I wanted to pair it with some type of berry dish. If you don't have elderflower syrup, just add some extra sugar.

Somehow, I got the idea that I wanted to make berry shortcakes, which is interesting, because I really don't like most shortcake desserts. The shortcakes end up mushy from the berry syrup, and I don't do mushy. So, my challenge was to find a shortcake that would hold up to the syrup, sweet enough for a dessert, but savory enough to cut the sugar in the toppings. Since I also try to follow a plant-based diet, it needed to be vegan. This recipe not only fits the bill, my husband, who is not plant-based, vegan, or anything even similar, gave it two thumbs up!


For the Berries:
2 - 3 Cups Sliced Berries ( I used a mix of strawberries and blackberries)
1/4 Cup Elderflower Syrup (or add 1 - 2 Tbsp extra Sugar)
3 - 4 Tbsp Sugar

For the Shortcakes:
1 and 1/2 Cups all-purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Corn Meal
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
1/3 Cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter 
1/2 Cup Non-Dairy Milk ( I used Oat Milk) or more for consistency
Non-Stick cooking spray

For the Whipped Coconut Cream:
1 Can Full-Fat Coconut Milk or Cream, Chilled
3 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Mix the berries with the Elderflower syrup and the sugar , or just the sugar and set aside in the fridge, stirring occasionally.

 Mix the flour, corn meal, baking powder, salt and baking soda until combined. Cut and mash in the "butter"  until it's like coarse meal. Mix in the "milk" a little at a time, until the consistency will hold it's shape when dropped on to a cookie sheet. I used almost 3/4 Cups to get the consistency right. 

Drop large spoonfulls of dough onto a cookie sheet, covered with foil, and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake in the 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove to a baking rack to cool.

Scoop the coconut cream into a stand mixer, and mix on medium-high speed for a few minutes. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and mix another two to three minutes.

To serve, put one shortcake on the bottom of your dish, top with the berries and some coconut whipped cream, then top with another shortcake on top. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Chili Con Blarney!

Yesterday, I spent a fantastic day with my daughter shopping! The area in which I live is kind of a food desert for anyone on a plant based diet. You can make it work, but  there aren't a lot of options. But, just over the hill, an hour (or hour-and-a-half) away, there is a literal food heaven! We spent some time at Berkeley Bowl West, which is a produce market on steroids, and ended at the local Grocery Outlet. I saw, literally, about 30 types of mushrooms, every veggie and fruit you could think of (dragon fruit, champagne grapes!), and a great selection of wines and vegan foods. Along with the tasty wines I picked out, I got some Field Roast Sausages. I've tried several "meat" substitutes, but wasn't really impressed until now! I crumbled the Field Roast Italian Sausages into the chili I made today, and my husband thought it was beef (until I told him...and I waited a long time to tell him...).

This chili recipe is sweet, spicy, thick and satisfying! And I served it with some Vegan Gluten-Free Cornbread made with Bob's Red Mill GF Cornbread Mix. A little dollop of Earth Balance Vegan "Butter" and I'm in heaven...


1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 of a Red Onion, diced
4 - 5 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 Cup diced Roasted Red Bell Peppers
2 Field Roast Italian Sausages, crumbled
2 Cans Diced Tomatoes
1 Cup Veggie Broth
2 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 and 1/2 Tbsp Cumin
2 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Salt (more or less to taste)
1/4 Cup Masa Harina (corn flour used to make tamales) mixed in 1/2 cup water

Heat the Olive Oil on medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the diced onion and garlic, stir and saute for several minutes. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the Roasted Red Bell Pepper and crumbled Field Roast Sausages, and saute for for about 5 minutes, breaking apart the sausage.

Add the Diced Tomatoes, Veggie Broth and Seasonings through the Salt, and stir to combine. Heat to a boil, turn down to low, and simmer for one hour. Mix the Masa Harina with the water and whisk in to the chili and simmer another hour. Taste for seasonings and add more salt, chili powder, or whatever you think it's lacking. If you like it spicy, add 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper. 

I served it with Cornbread. I took the Bob's Red Mill GF Cornbread Mix and substituted Oat Milk for the dairy and flax eggs for the eggs, using vegetable oil instead of the butter. It was delicious!

Try it and let me know what you think!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sweet and Spicy Chili-Garlic Stir Fry!

So the best thing about stir fry? You can use, literally, anything in your vegetable bin or pantry! The secret is all in the sauce, so you can use up all of those left-over veggies, toss it on a bed of rice, quinoa, or whatever you feel like, and it's awesome! At the end of the week,  I had some broccoli, asparagus, and bell pepper that were probably going to cross the line into "unusable" in the next couple of days, so they all went in and it was delicious! I added some Tempeh and brown rice Ramen Noodles, since I don't eat meat very often, and the result was super flavorful, with lots of protein and whole grains, along with the fresh veggies. The best part of this recipe is that almost EVERYTHING can be subbed out with something else, and it's still awesome with the sauce! For the recipe, I'll include what I used, but feel free to sub your own ingredients, and tell me how it turns out!


For the Stir Fry Sauce (Make ahead):
1/4 C Tamari or Regular Soy Sauce (I use Gluten Free)
1/4 C Seasoned Rice Vinegar
2 to 3 Tbsp Honey
1 or 2 Tbsp Chili-Garlic Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Cornstarch

For the Stir Fry:
2 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
1 Red, Yellow, or Orange Bell Pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 to 1/2 Red Onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 head Broccoli flowerettes, cut into large bite size pieces (about 2 cups)
1 Cup Asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
Tempeh, cut into 1 inch cubes (or add 1 cup cooked cubed chicken or other meat)
Cooked Brown Rice Ramen Noodles (1 packet, about 1 cup cooked)

Make the stir fry sauce ahead, combine all ingredients and whisk together, then set aside.

Heat a wok, or heavy skillet over high heat, until very hot. Add the Grapeseed Oil and heat for about 30 seconds, then add the bell pepper and onion. Toss for a couple of minutes, then add the Broccoli, Asparagus, and Tempeh.

After 3 to 4 minutes of tossing, check the Broccoli with a fork, and when almost tender, add the cooked ramen noodles and add the stir fry sauce. Toss together until the broccoli is done, and the sauce is thickened, should take about 2 minutes, tops. 

Ready to serve!