Monday, December 7, 2009

Vegetarian Big Mac

EJ loves Big Macs. He loves them so much that his elementary school bumped him from second to third grade because they thought he was so grown up, and even in the third grade, he was still the only kid to get a Big Mac on the field trip!

As an adult, EJ has been a vegetarian for some time, but every now and again I can catch his forlorn sigh as he yearns for just one more Big Mac. This evening I thought I would surprise him...and voila! The Vegetarian Big Mac is born.

2 Boca griller patties
iceburg lettuce - as much as you can pile on
2 slices orange American cheese (i refused to get Kraft singles, so I bought the Land O Lakes brand...its really good!)
2 hamburger buns
thousand island dressing
(a real Big Mac has pickles, but I left them off because I hate pickles)

Toast burgers until cooked. Assemble the bottom of a hamburger bun, one patty, the cheese, some lettuce, pickle (if using), dressing, another hamburger bottom, another patty, another slice of cheese, more lettuce, more pickles, if using, more dressing, top of bun. I wrapped the entire thing in foil, crushing it together, and popped it in the oven for 3 minutes, just to warm it (cause you know McDonald's always has warm lettuce on their burgers).

I also made my own french fries to go with this. I sliced a potato pretty thin, tossed it in about a tbsp olive oil and tossed in a bunch of salt and pepper. I laid them on a greased cookie sheet and baked at 450 for 20 minutes, flipped, and baked another 7-10 minutes.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rainbow cupcakes!

These are fabulous, but I can't take the credit for them. I found the website here .

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cake part:
1 white cake mix
12 oz sprite zero
food coloring - the gel kind

1 tub fat free cool-whip
1 package fat free vanilla pudding powder.

1. Mix the cake and the sprite. Stir until its not lumpy.

2. Divide evenly into 6 bowls. Color appropriately.

3. Add muffin liners to a muffin tin - I got 12 muffins out of this recipe.

4. Drizzle gobs of cake mix into the cupcake liners in whatever order you want. they won't mix with each other.

5. bake according to package instructions.

6. when they are cool, you can frost them. seriously, you have to wait until they are completely cool. combine the cool whip with the pudding powder, and voila! I also added a tiny bit of food coloring.

Cran-orange muffins

Makes about 8 jumbo muffins


2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup soy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1. Preheat oven to 400. Spray a muffin tin with oil.

2. In a bowl, combine cranberries with hot water. Let them hang out for about 15 minutes.

3. Add the vinegar to the milk and set aside for about 10-15 minutes so it gets nice and curdled.

4. In the meantime, you can mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and all the wet ingredients, sans curdled milk, in another bowl (egg whites are a wet ingredient). Strain the liquid out of the cranberries and add that to the wet ingredients.

5. If the milk is looking pretty curdled, you can add that to the wet ingredients.

6. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the wet ones - stire well. Fold in the cranberries.

7. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way full, and sprinkle a little sugar on top of each muffin (but only if you want to).

8. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. My favorite way to enjoy these is with a little dollop of margarine - yum!

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From Food pics

(by the way, you can totally tell that I took these pictures and not ej.)

Super Loaded Pasta

This is uber healthy, and tasty.

Pasta sauce:
3 cups tightly packed spinach
1 large bunch asparagus
1/2 of an onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup reduced-fat grated cheddar cheese
3 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp flour
2 veg bullion cubes
salt, pepper, to taste

1 package whole wheat pasta (i used linguini)

1. cut up asparagus and put in boiling, salted water for 2-3 minutes, or until tender.

2. Turn the heat on the water off and add spinach for 30 seconds - just enough for the spinach to wilt.

3. Drain the vegetables and transfer to a blender. Add onion, garlic and flax seeds.

4. in a saucepan, pour milk and add crumbled veg bullion. Whisk until cube is dissolved and turn heat to high. Add flour and whisk until there are no lumps. Stop whisking and wait for the milk to boil. The second it boils, turn the heat to low and whisk constantly until it thickens, about 2-4 minutes.

5. Turn heat off, add grated cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.

6. Transfer everything to a blender, add salt and pepper, and puree.

7. Cook the past in salted water (you can start this earlier) and toss with pasta sauce. I added raisins and pine nuts to the sauce with the pasta, but if you don't care so much about being fat free, i bet feta cheese would be great with this.

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From Food pics

Low fat shepherd's pie

This was awesome! It was one of those dishes that ej tastes, gets a huge grin, and slaps me a high five, saying "nice job!"


Mashed potato topping:
3 large idaho potatoes, chopped
1/2 cup fat free milk
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
2 egg whites
1 tsp garlic powder and onion powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Faux meat:
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
2 cups frozen peas
1 can corn kernels

1 cup fat free milk
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 veg bullion cubes
2 tsp soy sauce
few drops liquid smoke

Preheat oven to 350.

1. Boil chopped potatoes in salted water until tender (about 15 minutes). I left the skins on them, but if you prefer to peel them, do that before you boil.
2. In the meantime, saute the garlic in a non stick skillet with a little spray oil. Saute for 30 seconds to a minute, then add onions. Saute until the onions are translucent.
3. Add frozen faux hambruger crumbles. My preference are Morningstar. I bet this would be awesome with chopped seitan, though.
4. When meat has thawed, add carrots and saute for about 5 more minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
5. Remove from heat and add the peas and corn. The peas can still be frozen.
6. By this time, the potatoes should be done. Strain them and put in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients for the mashed potato topping and stir well. Taste to see if more garlic, onion powder, salt or pepper should be added.
7. Make the gravy. In a saucepan, add milk, crumbled veg bullion cubes, soy sauce and liquid smoke. Stir well. Turn the heat on high and add the flour and whisk it in. Watch for it to boil, and the second it starts boiling, turn the heat to low and whisk without stopping until it thickens (2-4 minutes). If it never thickens, you can add a little more flour and try again.
8. Once you get your gravy to the desired consistency, add the grated cheese (you could sub any other type of cheese you want, or leave it out. I bet cheddar would be really good). Stir until the cheese is melted.
9. Combine the gravy with the faux meat and stir well.
10. Spray a baking dish with oil. I used a large pie plate, but a casserole dish would be fine. Add the faux meat and spoon the potatoes over the top, spreading evenly.
11. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes at 350. Turn the broiler on and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes start to brown. Mine hadn't browned after 10 minutes, so I transferred it to the top oven rack and baked for another 5. Then it was perfect.

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From Food pics

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sort-of-saag paneer with dal

These dishes are actually really easy and really tasty - and really easy to veganize! I was especially pleased with the way the saag turned out. EJ and I ate it over basmati rice with some frozen naan that we keep on hand. These recipes are modified from the Happy Herbivore blog - my all time favorite food blog. Check her out.


1 small white or yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
1 tsb fresh grated ginger root
1 tbsp garam masala spice blend
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp coriander
cayenne powder, to taste
salt, pepper
3-4 cups tight packed fresh spinach
1/4 cup low fat cream cheese
1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
(to veganize this, sub the above two ingredients for vegan cream cheese, vegan yogurt, or even a little soy milk).

1. Saute onion and garlic in water until the onion is translucent
2. Add all the spices, including the ginger, and saute an additional 2 minutes
3. Add spinach, saute on low until the spinach is completely wilted.
4. Add cream cheese, stirring frequently, just until the cream cheese melts.
5. Remove from heat, add cottage cheese, and pulse in a blender until spinach is chopped (just a couple of pulses - you don't want to puree it).
6. Taste it - you might want to add some garlic powder, ginger powder, or more garam masala (my favorite spice blend).



1 small white or yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp tumeric
1/4 cup water
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp garam masala
cayenne powder, to taste
1/4-1/2 cup diced tomatoes
2 cups veg broth
1/4 cup lentils
1/4 cup raisins

1. Saute the onion and garlic in water until the onion is translucent.
2. Add spices, except garam masala, and saute for an additional 2 minutes (add more water if needed)
3. Add tomatoes (can use tomato sauce), broth, lentils, and bring to a boil. Bring heat down to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Remove cover, add raisins, and keep on low heat for an additional 3-4 minutes.
5. Serve with basmati rice and a dollop of greek yogurt!

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Veggie enchiladas

This dish is super easy and great for a crowd.


tortilla wrap (whole wheat)
mozzarella/cheddar cheese mix
1 zucchini
1 squash
1 green or red bell pepper
1 block extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1/2 white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
refried beans (make sure they're vegetarian!)
handful fresh spinach
olive oil
salt, pepper
enchilada sauce (i buy the premade stuff in the can. choose your own spicy-ness)

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a large baking dish.

2. Cube all veggies (except spinach) and the tofu, so they are bite sized. Toss in a bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Sometimes I add some extra garlic or onion powder.

3. Take a wrapper, spread it generously with refried beans and top the beans with a couple of spinach leaves. Spoon the veggie mixture into the center and wrap the enchilada closed, as tight as you can. Don't use too many veggies here or you'll have a huge enchilada that will never close. Put the enchilada in the prepared baking dish, and if it won't stay closed, seal it with a toothpick.

4. Repeat for the rest of the enchiladas.

5. Drizzle the enchiladas with the enchilada sauce. Don't use too much or they'll get really soggy, but you want it to be enough so that you can taste it. I would say about 2-3 tbsp per enchilada.

6. Top with shredded cheese. My favorite is to use a blend of sharp cheddar and mozzarella, but you can use anything you want. That prepared mexican cheese would be good for this too.

7. Cover with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the tin foil, and if the cheese is not completely melted, bake uncovered for 5-10 more minutes.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

my first souffle!

I recently saw "Julie and Julia", and like most people who saw the movie, I was totally inspired to cook French cuisine. I really want Julia's book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", the book that Julie cooked her way through and blogged about, buuuut i'm thinking its probably mostly meat, and what isn't meat is probably uber unhealthy. I found Julia's recipe for Hollandaise sauce and could NOT allow myself to prepare it. It was literally butter and eggs (not to mention runny eggs freak me out). So, from now on, I will use Isa Chandra Moskowitz's vegan Hollandaise sauce recipe, which can be found in her book, Vegan Brunch, and which also kicks ass.

Anyway, because I was so inspired by Julia, I found one of her recipes that I CAN allow myself to make, despite that its still pretty unhealthy. Cheese Souffle! I've heard souffles can be pretty temperamental, but i think mine turned out ok. It tasted great, even if it didn't puff as much as i wanted it too. As Julia would say, Bon Apetit!

Finely grated parmesan cheese
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 tbs unsalted butter
3 tbs flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
pinch nutmeg (it was a big pinch)
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1 cup cheese - I used this great Swiss that I found

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter or oil a 6 cup souffle dish and spread the parmesan cheese over the oil. This gives the souffle a nice flavorful crust.

2. Heat the milk in a saucepan until it is steaming. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan and whisk in the flour. Stir for a minute or so, until it starts to thicken, but don't let it brown. Add the milk and whisk a few more minutes. It will get to be the consistency of thick yogurt.

3. Remove from heat and whisk in the paprika, salt and nutmeg.

4. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking after each one. (Tip: separate the eggs in a bowl, 1 at a time, and add each yolk and white into its own container. If you get any yolk at all in the white, that white is ruined.)

5. Let this sit while you prepare the egg whites. This is the base of the souffle and can be made ahead of time (2 hrs ahead). You want this to be room temperature when you are ready to combine the egg whites with it).

5. Using an electric mixer, mix egg whites until they are very frothy and form stiff peaks, but are not dry. If the whites are too dry, add another egg white and whisk a little longer, but don't let them dry again. Whites froth much better at room temperature. See the stiff peaks?

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6. Mix about 1/4 of the egg whites with the souffle base. After this is mixed, gently fold in the rest of the whites. Be extremely gentle and do not over fold. At this time you can - slowly and carefully - fold in the cheese (or whatever else you wanted to put in it).

From Food pics

From Food pics

7. Pour mixture into prepared souffle dish. Add a tin foil collar around the dish, just in case you are lucky enough for your souffle to puff over the rim of the dish. Be sure to spread the collar with oil or butter to prevent sticking.

8. Place in the lower third of the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 375 degrees. It will bake for about 40-45 minutes, but check it after 35 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN BEFORE THEN!

Unfortunately we didn't take pictures of the finished souffle, but let me assure you, it was delicious!! Here is a picture of the unbaked souffle about to go in to the oven. The second picture shows the collar that can be added.

From Food pics

From Food pics

Monstera Deliciosa

I bought this fruit at the local co-op because I was going insane with curiosity about it. Its a fruit normally grown in Central America, and apparently has to peel itself on its own before it can be eaten. The scales will start to fall off starting at the stem end, and once the scales are gone, its ok to eat. Ours has already started shedding the scales - we'll take some pics at home tonight and I will post tomorrow!

From Food pics

From Food pics

and here it is when it starts to peel...

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lettuce Wraps

I really enjoyed eating these. Because I am such a nice person, I brought these over to a friend's house to share. EJ was a little angry, I think he wanted to hoard them for ourselves!

1 block tofu, drained and diced into small pieces
1 package tempeh
sesame oil
1-2 cups chow mein noodles (optional, but I love these things)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 can water chestnuts, cut into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red chili powder, or to taste
few tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup peanut sauce (I used a pre-packaged, fat free peanut sauce)
3-6 tbsp soy sauce (depending on how salty you want it or how salty your peanut sauce is)
2 tbsp rice vinegar

whole iceberg lettuce leaves

Tempeh marinade:
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c water
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs ketchup
1 tbs lime juice

1. Saute the tofu over medium heat with some sesame oil. Its hard to get the tofu cooked evenly when the pieces are so small, so I just flip the pieces every few minutes until most seem brown.

2. Cut the tempeh into small pieces. Combine the tempeh with the tempeh sauce in a saucepan and stir well. Cover and bring to med-low heat. Heat until the tempeh has absorbed most of the sauce.

3. Combine all ingredients (including tempeh and tofu) in a large skillet. Mix thoroughly. You should taste the mixture too see what it needs - i did this in a hurry and didn't measure everything. I hope my above measurements are accurate!

Spoon into lettuce leaves and eat like tacos. Be careful - they can get drippy! The cool crunch of the lettuce is a great contrast to the heat of the tempeh/tofu mixture. I love this stuff!

Note: I used more tofu than tempeh - I think in the future I will add more tempeh. I like the texture of the tempeh a lot, and I think more of it will make this dish much better.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Easy Bruschetta


3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced
4-5 tbs feta cheese
1/4 of a white onion, diced
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Super easy - combine everything. Voila!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Most amazing bread pudding

I don't post a lot of dessert recipes. Bread pudding is another that is so, so good, but so, so bad for you. I save this one for parties.


For the pudding:
1 loaf of French Bread
1 quart of milk
3 eggs
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 tablespoons butter

For the sauce:
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
3 tablespoons bourbon (more to taste)

1) Tear bread into pieces and soak in milk for 1 hour.

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2) Beat eggs with sugar and vanilla. Add to bread mixture. Sir in the blueberries.

3) Melt 3 tablespoons butter in oblong baking dish. Pour pudding into baking dish, cover, and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

4) While the pudding is baking, make the sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the bourbon.

5) Remove the pudding form the oven. Cut into serving cubes and place in individual bowls. Top with whiskey sauce and serve.

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From Food pics

Eggplant Parmesan a la Melissa

I haven't posted anything in awhile. That's because I recently purchased two new cookbooks, and I've really been enjoying these recipes. The books are The Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengeance, both by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. These books rock my world (as well as ej's since he directly benefits with all this awesome food).

Eggplant Parmesan a la Melissa is a classic. If I could pick a recipe that I was known for, it would probably be this one. When I became a vegetarian, eggplant parm was one of the first dishes I fell in love with (because, before I was a vegetarian, I didn't really have a taste for vegetables. Ask my dad. He'll tell you "When Mimi was young, if there was even a speck of green on her food, she wouldn't eat it." And this is very true). My dad would make this dish for family parties and gatherings, and now that I am a little older and wiser, I can now make it whenever I please.

Which brings me to a very important point. Its the New Year, and, just like ej and me, most people are trying to eat better. Though this dish may not be the most healthy meal, it can be impressive, and I bust it out when I want to make an impression (like when I made it on New Year's Eve for ej's family). The finished product is very satisfying because it can be time consuming, but it also looks so beautiful and delicious. I am always so proud when an Eggplant Parmesan a la Melissa comes out of the oven.


1 eggplant
about 1 dozen eggs
1/2 cup milk
4 tbsp pesto
1 container italian style bread crumbs
vegetable oil, for frying

28 oz crushed tomato
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 of a white onion, diced
salt, pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
t tsp basil
1 tsp oregano

2 blocks frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 handful Parmesan cheese

For the tomato sauce:
Of course, you can cheat and use canned tomato sauce. Some of it is quite good.

1) Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a sauce pan. When oil is hot, add garlic. Saute for 30 seconds to a minute - be careful not to burn it.

2) Add onion and saute until translucent (a minute or two)

3) Add tomatoes and stir well.

4) Add all spices. Stir. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Set aside.

For the eggplant:

1) Peel it, then slice it. The slices should be no more than 1/2" thick - less is better.

2) I like to create an assembly line for this step. On my left, I have a plate with the sliced eggplant. Then I crack the eggs in a bowl, add the milk and pesto, and stir very well. Its hard to break up all the pesto, but do your best. Some chunks are ok (a hand mixer or blender works well for this step). Then I put my bread crumbs on a plate, and keep an empty plate to my right. So the order is: naked eggplant on left, then egg mixture, bread crumbs, and plate.

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3) Dip the eggplant in the eggs, transfer the eggplant to the bread crumbs and coat. Leave them on the right side plate when you're done with them. I usually double batter (dip in eggs and bread crumbs a second time) about half of the eggplant slices - especially the thicker ones.

4) Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Place the eggplant slices in the oil for 2-3 minutes and flip. I cook them until they are golden brown on each side. Place cooked slices on several layers of paper towels to soak up extra oil.
* Oil tends to go flying in this step, and I have stained many a shirt. Wear an apron or a shirt you don't care about.

Putting the dish together:

1) Preheat the oven to 350.

2) In a large casserole dish, spread some of the tomato sauce over the bottom. Place several eggplant slices in a single layer over the sauce. Dribble more sauce over the eggplant. You don't want to add too much sauce, it will make the dish mushy. I usually use no more than a cup of sauce per layer.

3) Take a handful of the thawed and drained spinach, and squeeze to drain any excess liquid. Spread it over the eggplant/sauce layer. I usually use about two handfuls of spinach per layer. Over the spinach, spread a handful or two of mozzarella cheese. Over that, dribble some more tomato sauce.

4) Repeat these steps until the topmost layer. The topmost layer should end with the mozzarella cheese, and over that I sprinkle a handful of Parmesan cheese.

From Food pics

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5) Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until the top layer of cheese is melted and slightly brown.

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From Food pics