Monthly Archives: December 2015

Anamnesis Moment: Glams Casino

Glams Casino There have been moments throughout my adult life when a sensation has brought back a memory from days gone by. It could be a song on the radio, a chill in the air, a certain aura in the room or a familiar aroma. Just the act sharpening a pencil has the power to transport me back to elementary school. (What can I say? I’m weird that way.) Coming from a family that celebrated life with food it’s no surprise that many of my recipes are inspired by these memories. This phenomenon, “anamnesis,” is defined as the recollection of remembrance of the past. Well, I had an “anamnesis moment” one day while making my Smoky Shitake Stir Fry recipe. Shitake mushrooms have a meaty and somewhat “chewy” texture that is similar to clams. (A few years ago I tried a recipe for New England “Glam” Chowder that used shitake mushrooms instead of clams. While the soup wasn’t to my liking, I did appreciate the textural attributes of the shitakes.)  I thought about Clams Casino that Bruce and I used to make. Clams Casino are little neck clams that have a butter-anchiovy paste tucked between the shell and the clam, then adorned with bacon and red bell pepper and baked on a bed of rock salt. There was a lot of action going on in that little clam shell it’s a wonder we could even taste the clam. Suffice it to say, they were quite tasty. My Glams Casino have the all the flavor ingredients without the clams. I had a bag of shitakes mushrooms that were starting to dry out, so I soaked them with nori seaweed in some water and topped them off with a mixture of bread crumbs, liquid smoke, red bell peppers and vegan butter. I was as happy as a clam with the results. (The meaning of this saying is thought to have originated in the 19th century from the way clams are protected during high tide. I guess you could say that I’m a modern-day protector of the clam.) Anyway, these Glams Casino make a light first course for a special meal or a nice appetizer for your New Year celebration. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Glams Casino

24 shitake mushrooms (about 3” diameter)
½ sheet nori seaweed
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
Hot water

½ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons melted vegan butter (Better Butter from Non-Dairy Evolution cookbook)
½ teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
½ teaspoon vegan Worstershire sauce (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
Place seaweed, salt and sugar in a quart container. Fill half-way with boiling water. Place mushrooms in container and add more water to cover. Let sit at least 30 minutes. Drain and place on rimmed baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix remaining ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper. Gently press bread crumb mixture onto mushrooms. Bake until bread crumbs are browned and mushrooms are tender, about 15 minutes.

30 Dec 2015

A New Day: Hoppin’ John Burgers

Hoppin John BurgersKnowing that we would have family visiting both the week before and after Christmas and a big family party on the 28th, I wanted to get a jump on this post. I didn’t want to miss something for New Year’s Day because, for many of us, it is a New Day. You know, “out with the old, in with the new”. Last New Year, I posted a recipe for Hoppin’ John. In the southern United States, eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with good luck. It so happens that a few weeks ago, Bruce and I had lunch at Metropolitan Kitchen in Annapolis, Maryland. As we were enjoying our black eyed pea burgers, I thought this would be a good way to use up the stockpile of black eyed peas that I have at home. (Warning: when you store dried beans in a can in the basement it’s easy to forget what you have down there.)  And since the New Year is fast-approaching, why not create a recipe that would bring you good health and possibly some good fortune as well? The burgers have all of the ingredients that are found in my Hoppin’ John recipe — black eyed peas, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes — even rice. Forgetting that I have an awesome electric griddle in the basement (maybe I should move “getting organized” to the top of my resolution list), I opted to brown the burgers in the oven on parchment-lined baking sheets to eliminate the need for any oil. The burgers were set on whole wheat buns and topped off with onions, tomatoes and lettuce. And don’t forget to pour on your favorite barbeque sauce. Make some Hoppin’ John Burgers and have yourself a prosperous and healthy New Year! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Hoppin’ John Burgers

Makes 10 to 12 burgers

  • ½ lb. black eyed peas
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Water or vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal, ground into flour

Place black eyed peas, sundried tomatoes, liquid smoke, bay leaf and thyme in pressure cooker. Add water until it covers beans by about 2 inches. Add salt and pressure cook for about 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and reserve the cooking liquid. Let cool.

In non-stick skillet, saute onions, peppers and garlic until soft and lightly browned. Add rice, thyme and liquid smoke. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, adding the reserved cooking liquid a little at a time to prevent sticking. Stir in hot sauce.

Place black eyed peas, vegetables and oatmeal in food processor and pulse until desired consistency is reached.

Form into patties (1/3 cup each for standard hamburger buns or 1/2 cup each for Kaiser buns) and place on baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for about 10 minutes per side.


29 Dec 2015

Hummus for the Holiday: Moroccan Chickpea Spread

Moroccan HummusMy brother and sister-in-law will be spending the holidays with us this year, which brings to mind two cliches about coming home. Since Tommy & Belinda live in Kansas, the first cliche is “there’s no place like home” from the Wizard of Oz. If only they could click the heels on their red shoes any day of the year could be a holiday for us. The second cliche comes from the popular Christmas song that goes like this (you can sing along if you like): “Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays, ’cause no matter how far away you roam, if you want to be happy in a million ways, for the holidays you can’t beat home, sweet home.”  I think it’s because I never moved away from my family that I can appreciate the sentiment of this song. Anyway, I thought I’d make it a real home-coming and invite my family down from New Jersey for an after-Christmas gathering. I want to have some tasty tidbits to snack on since everyone will most likely be arriving at different times. Just about everyone likes hummus, so I decided to come up with something a little more exotic than a basic chickpea spread. ( If you haven’t figured it out yet, I tend to do things in a big way). I thought about chickpea recipes that I like and remembered my Moroccan Chickpea Stew that’s made with onions, tomatoes, garlic, olives and raisins and spiced with cinnamon, cumin and cilantro. My intention was to make a basic hummus recipe and swirl in the Moroccan-inspired olive-raisin puree. The swirling concept worked in my head, but it didn’t work in the bowl, so I simply folded the puree in with the hummus. (I might try layering in a glass bowl next time I make it.)  The spread may not look too pretty, but it tastes delicious. I plan to serve it on warmed pita points, but you can use pita chips, crackers or fresh vegetables. Any leftovers can be used for wraps later in the week. Whether you’re staying home or going back home, may your holidays be merry and bright. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Moroccan Chickpea Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained (reserve liquid)
  • 4 cloves of roasted garlic
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, soaked until soft
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

In blender or food processor, puree chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, cumin and salt, adding reserved liquid to desired consistency. Remove to serving bowl or storage container.

Place raisins, sundried tomatoes, olives, cilantro and cinnamon in mini-chopper and process until a chunky paste forms. Incorporate paste into hummus by either swirling or folding it in.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.


24 Dec 2015

Svelte Santa: Glorious Morning Muffins

Glorious Morning MuffinsIt’s been a long, long time since I put out a midnight snack for Santa. It used to be the standard cookies and milk. With every believer putting out a treat to entice Santa down their chimney no wonder he was looking somewhat portly. Okay, so I don’t like a skinny Santa either, but if he lost just a few extra pounds he’d be able to shimmy down that chimney a little faster. (Faster trips down the chimney = more presents under the tree.) So I thought this year I’d put out a couple of healthy muffins and a glass of almond milk instead.” Bah Humbug” you might say; but one bite of these little gems you’ll be singing a different Christmas carol. These Glorious Morning Muffins are chock full of orange, dates, carrots and oatmeal. You could add in some chopped nuts or raisins for a little added goodness. If you’re expecting out-of-town guests for the holidays this year, why not bake up a few batches of muffins to have on hand for breakfast, brunch or just snacking? In addition to this recipe, I’m making Cracked Corn Muffins and Blueberry Muffins before my guests (and Santa) arrive. The Brits use the term “in good nick” that means to be in good health.  This Christmas Eve set out something healthy to keep St. Nick in good nick. Happy Holidays and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Glorious Morning Muffins

Makes 12 to 14 muffins

  • 1 navel orange (skin and flesh), cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp. finely ground flax seeds (mixed with 3 tablespoons aquafaba or water)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. apple butter
  • 3/4 cup plain non-dairy milk (soy, almond, cashew)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoons non-aluminum baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned whole oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • ¼ cup raisins, optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts,optional

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners for small muffins.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the orange segments, dates and almond butter until almost smooth. Add the flax, almond butter, maple syrup, apple butter and milk and process until well blended.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Add the oats and stir to combine.

Pour the contents of food processor over the dry mixture in the bowl and mix well.  Fold in carrots, raisins and walnuts.

Using an ice cream scoop fill the muffin tins 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once about halfway through. Cool about 10 minutes before removing to a rack.

15 Dec 2015

True Grits: Cheesy Grits with Chives

GritsThere are certain foods that I just don’t “get”, and grits is one of them. I think you either LOVE grits or you could do without them. After all, it’s just crushed up corn that’s cooked like a porridge. Mom has been on a grits bender since her return from Kansas. She’s had grits just about every morning, usually with some butter and an egg on top. (I know . . . as hard as I try she’s not going to change her ways at this stage of the game.) Grits are a breakfast staple in the southern United States and there are probably more recipes for grits than there are for Bubba Gump shrimp.  (If you’ve seen the movie Forrest Gump, you’ll appreciate this.) Some of the recipes I found contained butter, cheese, heavy cream and half-and-half. Yikes! Well, I was feeling adventurous and decided to try my hand at mixing up a bowl of healthy grits. I added some nutritional yeast for the cheese flavor and black salt for an egg-y effect. The result was pretty cheesy (in a good way) and I’ll even go so far as to say that these grits were somewhat “buttery” tasting (nutritional yeast has that effect sometimes). Well, I’m no southern belle so I can’t confirm that these are “true grits”, but they were mighty tasty. If you’re looking for another breakfast option, try making a bowl of grits. As Jed Clampett would say, “Y’all come back now, ya’ hear?” Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

 Cheesy Grits with Chives

Makes one to two servings

  • ½ cup grits
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/8 teaspoon black salt
  • ½ teaspoon chives, fresh or dried
  • a few drops of liquid smoke, optional

Place all ingredients in small microwave-safe bowl. Cook on medium power for 4 to 6 minutes, until grits absorb most of the water. Add more water and cook longer if necessary.

12 Dec 2015

Be You: Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I had my first taste of spaghetti squash many years ago. At the time I was following a Weight Watchers-type diet. Someone came up with this idea to use spaghetti squash as a substitute for real spaghetti. All you had to do was boil it, scrape it, toss it with tomato sauce or even garlic and oil and you had yourself a satisfying bowl of “spaghetti”. Some recipes even called for baking it with ricotta and mozzarella as you would for baked ziti. It was rather watery and bland and I hadn’t tried it again until now. I received a spaghetti squash as part of my CSA share a few weeks ago. Around the same time I came across a post on one of my Facebook groups for spaghetti squash made with a puttanesca sauce and I had one of my “ah-ha” moments. And this is where Emerson’s quote hits home for me. I’ve seen a lot of effort in the plant food community trying to transform plant food into something it’s not. If I treated the squash as a vegetable rather than trying to get it to behave like pasta it would be able to shine on its own. I decided to bake the squash with a light brushing of olive oil and a heavy dose of garlic and tossed it with my recipe for puttanesca sauce and a sprinkling of pine nuts. The result was surprisingly delicious and will most likely become one of my favorite squash recipes. Thank you for being you . . . and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Spaghetti Squash 001







Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

Makes 2 servings

One spaghetti squash, about 2 to 2-1/2 lbs.
Olive oil (optional)
8 garlic cloves (4 minced, 4 sliced)
2 cups diced tomatoes (15 oz. can)
¼ cup Kalamata olives, cut in half
1 tablespoon capers
Marjoram, black pepper, salt and red pepper to taste
¼ cup toasted pine nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 450F. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Lightly coat cut surface of squash with olive oil, if using. Sprinkle the minced garlic on surface. Place in large baking pan, cut side up, and bake until tender, about 1 hour.

While squash is baking, prepare the sauce. Lightly coat a non-stick skillet with olive oil, if using, You can use 2 tablespoons of water in place of the oil. Add sliced garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add marjoram and cook about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, black pepper, salt and red pepper. Cook over medium heat until most of liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes.

When squash is ready, scrape out the flesh with a fork, working from the stem to the blossom end of the squash. Place into shallow serving bowl and toss with sauce. Sprinkle pine nuts on top.

08 Dec 2015

Fabulous Fungi: Gnocci with Creamy Tomato-Pesto-Truffle Sauce

Tomato Pesto Truffle GnocciYesterday Bruce and I made another one-day road trip to New Jersey. On the way back home, we were tossing around some ideas as to where to have dinner. The conversation went something like this:

Bruce: Do you want to go out for dinner tonight?
Me: I don’t know. Where do you want to go?
Bruce: How about The Hill?
Me: Nah.
Bruce: Grain on Main?
Me: Tired of bean burgers.
Bruce: Sushi?
Me: We have that all the time. I don’t want Indian either.
Bruce: Do you think the Thai place is open today?
Me: I think they’re open, but we’re always eating something with rice.
Bruce: Do you feel like making some pasta?
Me: I was actually thinking about that.
Bruce: Looks like we’re eating in.

As is the case with many of our meals, there’s a trail of breadcrumbs leading up to some tasty morsel and here’s how it all came together. We’ve been eating out a lot with all the trips to Jersey to get my mom’s house ready to sell, so having a home-cooked meal was very appealing.  (Actually, the thought of pasta for any reason is appealing and thus required little mental effort on my part.) While we were in Annapolis last weekend, every gourmet food store we visited was selling truffle salt so I wanted to find out what the truffle-buzz was all about. It’s kind of ironic that pigs will eat anything, yet they’re smart enough to be trained to find but NOT eat these fabulous fungi. Luckily for me, this week Costco was selling a “gift set” that included a jar of truffle salt and a jar of whole truffles from a company called Sabatino Tartufi.  Call it serendipity or call it coincidence, but at $19.99 I’ll call it money well-spent on a gift for myself. On our way home last night we stopped at Trader Joe’s and picked up, among other goodies, a package of fresh gnocci. My trusty freezer forked over the marinara sauce, cashew cream and sun-dried tomato pesto. Remember all those times I suggested that you make extras for future use? Well, tonight’s the night to call out the reserves and enjoy a fast and fabulous feast. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Gnocci with Creamy Tomato, Pesto and Truffle Sauce

Makes 2 to 3 servings

1 pint of home-made marinara sauce
¼ cup cashew cream
1 tablespoon pesto (or fresh basil, minced)
½ teaspoon truffle salt
1 lb. potato gnocci, cooked according to package directions

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan and heat thoroughly. Divide gnocci between 2 to 3 bowls and spoon sauce on top.

02 Dec 2015

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