Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

Corn Griddle Cakes

We have a lot of corn-on-the-cob in this house. The kids love it, but I tend to over-buy the ears at Costco. Today, listening to this interview on Fresh Air by two chefs I admire, I was inspired to turn a couple of those ears of corn into corn cakes. I looked at a few recipes and made something that worked great for our family. We served it as break-fast-for dinner with veggie sausages, blueberries and yogurt, but it also makes a great side dish for a more typical dinner. You can add chives or herbs, but I left ours plain for easier acceptance at the table by my children.

Makes 6 Corn Cakes


2 Ears of Corn, shucked

1T melted butter

¼ C skim milk

1 egg

¼ C cornmeal

¼ C flour

½ t Kosher salt

2T shredded parmesan or gruyere cheese


  1. Grate the corn on the large holes of a grater, or cut off the kernels and process in a mini-processor. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  2. Beat together grated corn, milk, egg and butter.
  3. In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients, plus cheese. Add to wet ingredients and mix to combine.
  4. Heat the griddle to medium and spray with canola or vegetable oil.
  5. Cook as you would a pancake—about ¼ C mix on the griddle per cake, flipping when edges are cooked.

Grilling out on the 4th—with Pizza

I checked out a cookbook from the library on a friend’s recommendation—The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman—and one page immediately caught my attention.  The Grilled Pizza recipe in the “Pizza and Pasta” section seemed too interesting to pass by untried. I have a pretty good gas grill, a garden full of tomatoes and basil, and pizza dough in the fridge (The recipe does include a section on making the dough, but I wanted to try out the quick-and-dirty version).  The results?  Tastes great, less pretty. First, I made a grilled pizza for the kids that was basic sauce and cheese. While it was simple and quick to make, it looked hideous. The kids didn’t seem to care, though, since it tasted wonderful.


Margherita pizza on the left, kids pizza on the right


Learning from the first pizza (always best to experiment on the under-developed palates first), I changed things up a bit for the tomato-basil Margherita version and it came out considerably more pizza-looking than the first. Here is the gist of what I learned: when using refrigerated pizza dough, do not separate it into halves and leave it in an oiled bowl for an hour as the recipe suggests. Roll it out with some flour, oil it, and throw it on the grill.

Side note: The Mom 100 Cookbook is a good one, so far. I like the way Workman separates the sections by need—i.e., potluck, mixed company dinners, bake sale. It’s easy to navigate, and she calls out recipes for picky eaters and ways to bring the kids into the kitchen to help prepare the meal.

Next time, I’ll either make the dough myself or buy a hunk from a nearby pizza place. But in a pinch, the pre-made stuff works fine. If you are hosting people this 4th of July, why not provide an alternative to burgers and dogs, especially for the vegetarians? After all, how many veggie patties can a person eat in one lifetime? Grilled pizza will, at the least, provide some additional conversation starters at your cook-out.

Grilled Pizza (serves 4)


1 can of refrigerated pizza dough

Olive Oil

Cornmeal or flour

1C tomato sauce

2C (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese (fresh is best)

1.5C toppings

1/4C slivered basil leaves (optional)


  1. Roll out pizza dough on a surface with flour. Stretch or pull it into a 12-inch rectangle or circle. You’ll need to give the dough some breaks in between stretches. It will puff up on the grill, so don’t worry if it’s only ¼-inch think or if there are holes in some parts.
  2. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high
  4. Pour tomato sauce into one bowl, cheese in another, and toppings in another. Bring bowls, oil, pastry brush and baking sheets with dough to the grill.
  5. Brush the top of the dough with oil.
  6. Swiftly pick up the dough and flip it, oil-side-down, onto the grill grate. Close the grill cover and wait 3 minutes.
  7. Once grill marks have formed, brush uncooked top side with oil and turn over the crust. Lower the heat to medium-low.
  8. Carefully brush surface with tomato sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and add toppings.
  9. Close the cover and cook for 4 minutes more. Once cheese is completely melted and crust is brown on the underside. Remove the pizza from the grill, sprinkle with fresh basil, and cut into pieces.

What are your favorite vegetarian grill-out meals? Tell us what you are planning to cook for the 4th, and have a great holiday!

The Perfect Smoothie

Every year in March I take a good look at what I’ve been hiding under winter clothing and realize it’s time to get things back in order for the hot weather. For me, that means a lot of fruits and vegetables, and smoothies once or twice a day. For this blog, it means fewer recipes. There are a lot of salads and sautéed veggies happening in my house right now for me, and a lot of pasta and grilled chicken dinners. Not so interesting. It helps that I freeze pureed veggies in 2T portions to add to sauces and smoothies, etc. Last week I added spinach and cauliflower to turkey meatballs and it was a great way to lighten them up. Having it on hand means I am more likely to get creative and bring them into recipes.

But I do think the smoothie is interesting. I’ve played around with this smoothie over the years and like to think I have it down to a fruit and veg art.

Make it, drink it, let me know what you think! And if you are gluten-free (as is this recipe), the next post or two should be up your alley–Passover is coming and wheat is going out the door.

Julie’s Perfect (Vegan) Smoothie


1C almond milk

1 scoop Amazing Meal Amazing Grass Chocolate Organic Chocolate Infusion

½ banana

1t almond butter

3-4 slices frozen peaches

5-6 chunks frozen mango (or strawberries)

2T pureed spinach  


Blend it all (I am partial to an immersion blender for smoothies), and add some ice if it needs it, or if you used fresh produce. The Amazing Grass tends to stick to the cup, so wash it out ASAP.

Happy Hanukkah, Y’all!

Each year during Hanukkah our friend Josh comes for dinner and fry latkes. A few years ago, Josh brought Erica with him. This year, he and Erica brought their tiny, cute baby. In the name of family sanity, we decided ahead of times to forego the latke-frying this one year and buy them already prepared at Whole Foods. Then, I just had to heat them in the oven on cookie sheets for a few minutes.

I don’t consider Hanukkah to have a traditional set menu the way Thanksgiving or even Passover can, but I do have an idea of a traditional winter Jewish meal and it has two key point: slow-cooked beef and a kugel. Since I was going to be gone almost the whole day, I opted for a very easy slow-cooked beef stew (yes, again from “America’s Test Kitchen” and again a home run). This recipe taught me about the joy of using frozen chopped opinion for soups and stews. Why have I not know about this before? I should have bought 40 bags, in case I never find them again. I also bought rice that steams in the bag in the microwave. This shortcut seems a little less Whole Foods-sanctioned, and I will try to use it sparingly, but it worked out great last night. Then, I roasted asparagus right before serving dinner.

The kugel recipe was a on scrap of paper stuck in another cookbook (“Lowfat Jewish Cooking” if you can believe it). It credits the Hadassah Sisterhood cookbook of Valdosta, GA. I don’t know where or when I found this gem, but I’d bet it was at least a dozen years ago. Everyone loved this peach kugel. What’s not to love? I made it the night before and it reheated extremely well.

Peach Noodle Kugel

Great for: Pot luck dinners, a meal with company, comfort food, brunch

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 45 minutes

Cool: 30 minutes


8-12 oz medium egg noodles (I used 12, recipe called for 8)

3T butter, plus additional for baking dish

3 eggs

½ C sugar

2C milk, preferably whole

½ C seedless raisins

16-oz can sliced cling peaches, drained, or 2 fresh peaches sliced ¼-inch thick


2T butter

¼ C bread crumbs

½ t ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 and lightly coat 13/9/2 baking dish with butter.

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and transfer to large bowl. Add butter and toss until melted and noodles are coated. Set aside

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until combined. Whisking constantly, slowly pour milk in steady stream. Add raisins. Pour egg mixture over noodles and toss to coat. Transfer mixture to baking dish. Cover and bake 30 minutes.

Prepare Streusel: In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, melt butter. Add bread crumbs and cinnamon and stir until coated. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove kugel from oven and arrange peach slices in rows on the surface and sprinkle evenly with streusel topping. Return kugel to oven, uncovered, and bake about 15 minutes or until kugel is lightly browned and custard sets. Transfer dish to wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Do ahead: you can cool, cover and refrigerate the kugel, then heat it for 30 minutes at 300 degrees, covered.

Serves 10-12.


Meatless Monday: Creamy Tomato Soup

It’s soup season, and in preparation for an upcoming Soup Swap I test-drove a new tomato bisque recipe. I have been making a number of new dishes form America’s test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution and this cookbook has the best recipes for a slow cooker that I’ve seen so far. As you know, I made the cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving from this cookbook and it was a success, in large part because I utilized a technique to reduce the risk of burning the breading (A technique that also works for pasta dishes).

There are two things I dislike about this cookbook:  

1)    There are very few recipes where you dump in a bunch of ingredients, with little prep work, and turn it on. Usually, you have to combine and microwave some ingredients, sauté a few things first, that kind of thing. But, the results are better and I guess that is what it’s all about. I can generally handle 15-20 minutes of prep work in the morning over a 20-30 minute recipe in the evening, so it’s still a time-saver for me for dinners.

2)    Most of its recipes could easily be vegetarian, but aren’t. This soup, for example, calls for chicken broth but I was making it to share with a vegetarian friend who is feeling ill, so I subbed in vegetable broth. (I’m pretty sure this would be a fine vegan soup if you sub oil for butter and don’t add the cream.) I can’t understand why they wouldn’t make it as the best possible vegetarian soup when the option is so easy and broadens its appeal. Most of its recipes have meat and I only eat meat once a day, tops, so it limits my options in planning out the day.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Great for: Soup Swaps (can easily be doubled or tripled), soup course for a meal with company, paired with grilled cheese or pizza for a fast family meal.

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 4-6 hours

Post-prep: 5 minutes


2T unsalted butter

3 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved

1 onion, minced

1T brown sugar

1T tomato paste

Salt and pepper

2T all-purpose flour

1T tomato paste

3C low-sodium broth (chicken or vegetable), plus extra as needed

2 bay leaves

1/2C heavy cream (I used a cup on accident, and it was divine)

2 t dry sherry

Pinch of cayenne pepper


Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, onion, sugar, tomato paste, and 1/2 t salt and cook until tomatoes are dry and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 1C broth, scraping up any brown bits, then transfer to slow cooker.

Stir remaining 2C broth, reserved tomato juice and bay leaves into slow cooker. Cover and cook until tomatoes begin to break down, 4-6 hours on low.

Discard bay leaves. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth, then transfer to a large sauce pan (NOTE: I used an immersion blender directly in the slow cooker, with negated the need to let the soup cool or transfer it. I fracking love that blender).

Stir in cream, sherry and cayenne, and add more broth as needed to adjust consistency or temper pepper.

Reheat soup to medium heat, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Add croutons or crusty parmesan bread (optional).


Peanut Butter Gratitude

November is a time to think about blessings, and I should probably be grateful that no one in our family has a peanut allergy, because peanut butter consumption in our house is high. I’m not alone, either—peanut butter is a favorite food for many kids. It’s also a requested item for most food pantries. And with the cost of peanut butter on the rise, even more needed. Our peanut butter of choice is Skippy Natural with Honey. As the Spitfire can practically live on peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches, this particular product saves us money–even though it’s slightly more expensive–because I no longer need to also use honey in her sandwiches—if I do, they then become “too honey-filled.” I buy it as a bulk subscription from Amazon and buy plain, natural peanut butter for cooking. And I do cook with it. Peanut butter chicken, peanut butter oatmeal…the list goes on.

One of the kids’ favorite meals is a peanut butter pasta I have been making for more than 15 years. It comes from Vegetarian Express by Nava Atlas and Lillian Kayte (a great resource for quick meals), a birthday gift from my first boss. I can make it in the time it takes to boil pasta, everyone eats it happily, and it’s highly adaptable. (Add tofu. Substitute vegetables. Spice it up or down.) It’s also a great way to introduce whole wheat pasta, since the sauce dominates the flavor.

The original, well-loved recipe

Peanut Butter Spirals with Peas

Great for: Quick family meals, pot lucks with no peanut allergies

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 8-10 minutes

Serves: 6


10 Ounces spiral/rotini whole wheat pasta

1/2C peanut butter

3/4C water or vegetable stock

2-3T soy sauce

1-2T white-wine vinegar or rice vinegar

1T honey or rice syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed

Optional: Chili oil or Tabasco


  1. Begin cooking the pasta
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients, except for the peas in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth
  3. When the pasta is just about done, toss the peas in to warm them, then drain and transfer them to a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and toss well.

Helpful tip: The peanut butter sauce thickens as it stands. I like it, but you may not.  If the dish sits for a while before serving, or before serving leftovers the next day, mix in more water if the thickened sauce isn’t to your liking.

What is your favorite peanut-butter-based recipe? Share it in the comments.

Lentils I have Known

I don’t think I really discovered a taste for lentils until I moved back to Texas and acquired a Moosewood Cookbook—a gift from my vegetarian sister. There are a wealth of lentil-based recipes in there, and I found that I enjoyed them baked, pureed, sautéed—just about any way but raw. I came across a recipe– a contest entry by Jo Irvine of Utah — for a large batch of lentil chili and knew I’d make it during our first cold snap. This recipe makes about 10 cups of chili. If you have a soup swap on your horizon, or need to bring someone a meal, this could be your recipe. There is very little prep involved, and everyone in our house, at least, gives it a thumbs up. It easily adapts to become a vegan chili.

Vegetarian Lentil Chili

Great for: big-batch meals

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes


4 14.5-oz cans dices tomatoes

1 15-oz cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 12-oz package frozen chopped peppers and 1 12-oz package frozen chopped onions

(My store doesn’t have this so I subbed the same weight in bags of combined frozen peppers and onions and chopped them further)

2C dry red lentils, rinsed and drained

1/4Cchili powder

(I reduced this to 2T, then added back 1T after it was done so it wouldn’t be too spicy for the kids. It wasn’t)

2T garlic powder

1 8-oz can tomato sauce

1 6-oz can tomato sauce

1/8t black pepper

2C shredded Cheddar or Mexican Cheese (4 oz)—or remove it to make it a Vegan meal


  1. In an 8-qt Dutch oven, combine undrained tomatoes, rinsed and drained beans, 3C water, peppers, onions, dry lentils, chili powder, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer, covered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in tomato sauce and paste, and black pepper; heat through.

Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips (optional).

Store leftovers, covered, in refrigerator up to 3 days or divide into freezer containers and freeze for up to 3 months.