Friday, October 28, 2016

Lentil and Brown Rice Taco Salad

I don't know if you've noticed....but I seem to have a large amount of mexican inspired recipes up on this here blog. I can't decide if it's because they lend themselves so well to vegetarian dishes or because we just love them around here. I'm thinking both.

So I don't start a habit of posting very similar recipes...anyone have any recipes they'd like to see? Thanksgiving/holiday favorites? Desserts? Pastas? I aim to please!

This lentil and brown rice taco filling is so versatile. We've used it in tacos, salads (as shown above), burritos and even as a chip dip. And it's a slow cooker recipe which makes it so very easy and one of my go to recipes for a busy day. The recipe is from and she's got some great recipes. You should check it out! My only addition to this recipe is some fresh cilantro at the end.


Lentil and Brown Rice Taco Filling
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 4 hours Servings: 8
Recipe from

1 cup lentils (I use brown), rinsed
1/2 cup brown rice, rinsed
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups water
2 Tb chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on heat preferences)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

  • Put all ingredients, except cilantro, in crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours. 
  • Check the mixture at 3 hours. Stir and return the lid to finish cooking. 
  • When mixture is done cooking, add cilantro, mix 
  • Serve with your favorite taco/burrito/salad fixings! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Vegetable Stew

Slowly, but surely, it's starting to cool down around here. This means more soup!!! I do have to confess though, that sometimes I really do miss my meaty soup. I mean a good beef stew with carrots and potatoes is so good and satisfying on a cold day. So I was SO excited to find this recipe taking a traditional stew and reinventing it into a vegetarian friendly option full of veggies. This did not disappoint and will definitely be returning to our table!

I know I've said before that I never use fresh parsley...but I decided to give it a try for this recipe. I really wanted that authentic stew flavor, and was hoping by following this recipe closely I would get that flavor. I'm not sure if the parsley actually added much to it. I think most of the flavor is coming from the aromatic vegetables and the rosemary. So I think in the future I will stick with the dried parsley....I'll let you know how it turns out the next time I do it, but for now the recipe below calls for fresh.


Vegetable Stew
Prep time: 30 min Cook time: 35 min Servings: 6

Recipe from

Note: The original recipe calls for 5 cups of water. I decided to use 4 cups of vegetable broth and 1 cup water to add a deeper flavor. Feel free to stick to the water, but I would suggest using at least part vegetable broth. Also, the original recipe has you saute the vegetables in water...I opted to saute them in olive oil to brown them to add more flavor. 

1 Tb oilive oil
1 1/2 large onions, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 lb mushrooms, chopped (I used baby portabellas, quartered)
1/2 salt
1 Tb dried italian herb blend
1 Tb paprika
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 lb potatoes, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
pepper to taste

  • Heat olive oil in large pot over high heat, saute onions, celery, and carrots until onions are cooked through and starting to brown. 
  • Add the mushrooms to vegetables and saute for another 4 minutes, then add garlic, salt, italian herb blend, paprika, and fresh rosemary for another 1-2 minutes or until garlic is cooked and herbs are fragrant. 
  • Add vegetable broth, water, potatoes and tomato paste to pot, stirring to incorporate tomato paste. Bring stew to a boil, then reduce heat to a rolling simmer and cook covered for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes and cooked and tender. 
  • Add frozen peas, fresh parsley and pepper and simmer for another 2 minutes to warm peas through.
  • Blend 2 cups of the stew until smooth and add back into the pot to thicken the stew. 
  • Serve with a garnish of rosemary and warm bread. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Vegetable Fried Rice

I've never made an Asian dish that tastes anything like it does from a restaurant, not to say my creations aren't delish, just not the same. This fried rice right here is the closest I have ever got to making it taste like takeout. In our house we eat it as a main dish for dinner and sometimes, on a special occasion, I'll throw in some egg rolls. This is another frequently requested meal from my husband and makes great leftovers!


Vegetable Fried Rice
Prep time: 30 min (to cook rice) Cook time: 20 minutes Servings: 4
Recipe from: 

Note: First, this recipe calls for Oyster sauce, which is not technically vegetarian friendly, but for those, like my husband, who can handle a little seafood, it is a great addition into fried rice! Second, I cheat a little and use a frozen pea and carrot mix for my veggies. Decreases prep time, which I love! And third, the recipe I follow calls for chilled rice, but I've tried it both ways and I haven't noticed much of a difference. 

3 Tb butter, divided
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups frozen peas and carrots
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups dried rice - I use brown jasmine
3 green onions, sliced
4 Tb low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. oyster sauce
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper

  • cook rice according to package directions
  • chop the onion and garlic and whisk the eggs
  • Whisk together soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and green onion in small bowl and set aside
  • Melt 1/2 Tb butter in large skillet over medium-high heat and cook egg until scrambled
  • Remove egg from pan and set aside
  • Melt 1 Tb butter in pan and cook onion until soft, then add garlic and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, making sure not to overcook or burn the garlic
  • Then add the frozen peas and carrots to onions and garlic and cook until warmed through
  • Add the rest of the butter to the vegetables to melt, then add the rice and fry the rice for about 3 minutes stirring frequently
  • When rice is done frying, pour in the soy sauce mixture  and eggs and stir until combined
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Vegan Cuban Bowls

It's been awhile...once again. It's been so long since I've posted a recipe that I logged on to post a recipe and now I can't remember what I put in it...

But today I've got a FANTASTIC recipe shared with me by my friend Tiffany. Tiffany has a blog where she shares her great recipes. She makes great food, so I was really excited to try this recipe, especially since it uses plantains. I love them, but I've never made at home before. 

The key to the plantains (which Tiffany shared with me) is to let them get nice and dark. You pretty much want them almost black. This makes them sweeter and oh so yummy. My grocery store almost always only has green plantains. This time I bought two and one of them ripened in about five days and the other is still going. Be patient, it's worth it. 

And as you can see we did not eat ours in a bowl, any dish will do. My husband opted to eat his with some sour cream (non vegan), but I ate it without and it was still amazing. I also warmed my canned, rinsed beans with a little vegetable broth, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder just to add another layer of flavor. Oh and the coconut oil is also key. It brings such a wonderful hint of flavor to the dish. I don't like heat in my food, so I left the jalapeno out of the pico de gallo, but if you do, then leave it in!

My husband LOVED LOVED LOVED this recipe. He came home and saw the plantains and he was like a little kid in a candy store. He kept exclaiming how good it was and extolling my cooking talents. So, Tiff, thank you! My husband is now convinced I'm a wonder in the kitchen. 

 I hope you enjoy this as much as we did! 


Vegan Cuban Bowls
Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Servings: 3

For the Pico de Gallo:
1 cup diced tomato
3 Tb chopped cilantro leaves
3 Tb minced red onion
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tb minced jalapeno (optional)

For the Cuban Bowls
2 Tb coconut oil, divided
2 cups cubed red sweet potato (yam)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large, ripe plantain
1 14.5oz can black beans, rinsed
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 avocado, sliced
lime wedges

  • Combine the tomatoes, cilantro, onion, jalapeno, and ⅛ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Toss well and set aside to let the flavors come together.
  • Peel the plantain by drawing a sharp knife along the long ridges down the sides (there should be three or four), then peeling off each side of the peel in sections. Slice the plantain crosswise on an angle into coins.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the cubed sweet potato as well as the cumin and ½ teaspoon salt. Toss well, then turn the heat down to medium. Saute until golden brown and fork-tender; 5-7 minutes. Transfer the cooked sweet potato to a bowl; tent with foil to keep warm.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan and allow it to melt. Fry the plantain pieces until golden, about 1 or 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
  • Warm the black beans in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat (or by microwave in a covered bowl).
  • Assemble the bowls by dividing all of the ingredients equally between the two bowls in the following order: brown rice, black beans, sweet potatoes, plantains, avocado, and pico de gallo. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Vegetable Egg Rolls

I've wanted to make egg rolls from scratch for a long time but never had the courage to try them until I saw this recipe.  It looked rather straightforward and it was! I can't believe how easy it was. The only thing that took some concentration was rolling them tight and keeping an eye on them while frying so they wouldn't burn.

These deliciously crispy egg rolls are filled with cabbage, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and garlic. But I also think green onions, snow peas, bean sprouts and glass noodles would be good in these. They're given a bit of flavor using soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. The recipe I followed called for chinese rice wine and since I do not plan on ever having that ingredient on-hand, I decided to add a splash of rice wine vinegar for the acidity and a bit more sugar for the sweetness. I hoped that would cover the flavor profile of the wine and I think it turned out really nice.

We ate these with fried rice and my 20 month old LOVED them! She looked so cute while eating them that I couldn't resist taking a picture. She wanted them so badly that she had a tough time while I snapped a few pics on my iphone pre dinner (yes I had to do that on the floor by my window because the pics in the kitchen had no light and made them look like brown blobs). Luckily she was rewarded for her patience (see below)!

Just a note about the wrappers. I could only find "spring roll wrappers" in my local grocery store. But I don't think there's much difference between spring roll and egg roll wrappers. At least as I can tell. I found these and they worked great.


Vegetable Egg Rolls
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes Servings: 15 rolls
source: Detours in Life

Note: once you get the wrappers out of the package, they can dry out very quickly, so place them under a damp towel to stay moist. 

3 cloves garlic, minced
12oz bag of coleslaw mix (about 3/4 of a 16oz bag)
3 large carrots, shredded
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
8oz of shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 Tb olive oil
1 Tb soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

To seal egg rolls:
1 Tb cornstarch
1/4 cup water

  • In large frying pan or wok over medium high heat, heat oil and saute cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger and mushrooms 
  • Add soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper and continue to saute until vegetables and cooked through and cabbage has wilted
  • Remove vegetables from heat and lay them out on a baking sheet to cool to room temperature
  • Once vegetables are cooled, you need to squeeze out all the  moisture. I did this by literally squeezing with my clean hands. You could also do this in a large tea towel and ring out the water. 
  • Heat 1-2" of oil in high-sided pan to 350 - 375 F. 
  • Put a large heaping Tb of the vegetable mixture in one corner of a wrapper. Roll that corner up until the middle, folding the sides in, and finish rolling to the other corner. Seal the wrapper with the cornstarch and water mixture on the tip of your finger. 
  • Fry rolls in oil for about a minute or so each side, or until they're a nice golden brown. Keep an eye on them because they can burn quickly! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sweet Potato Curry Soup

Not everyone is a fan of curry, but if you are, then I would definitely give this soup a try. And if you're not, try it anyway. It may surprise you! It is so delicious and perfect on a cold winter night.

I based the recipe off of this one from I left out the lentils and the orange juice and increased the coconut milk. We had lentils for dinner the night before, so I wanted a break from them. Plus, with brown rice I didn't feel like it needed the lentils. The orange juice just sounded funny to me to add to curry. It totally could be delicious, but I didn't want to risk it...(maybe I should be more risky with my cuisine? hmm....I'll have to ruminate on that one..)

I followed the recipe and roasted the sweet potatoes first to give it more depth of flavor. But you could totally skip that step if you're crunched for time and just simmer is on low heat for longer until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.


Sweet Potato Curry Soup
Prep time: 1 hr Cook time: 30 minutes Servings: 6
Recipe adapted from:

3 large sweet potatoes, diced
2 Tb olive oil
salt and pepper
2 Tb butter
1 large onion, diced
2 shallots, minced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tb curry powder
2 Tbs freshly grated ginger
4 C vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
3 cups cooked brown rice
cilantro for serving

  • Mix sweet potato with olive oil, salt, and pepper and put on a large sheet pan and roast at 400 F for 35-45 minutes or until they start to get some good roasted color on them and then set aside. 
  • In large, heavy bottomed pot, over medium high heat, saute onions and shallots in butter for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add turmeric, curry and ginger to onions and shallots and cook an additional minute until the spices become fragrant. 
  • Add vegetable broth and sweet potatoes to the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Then turn the heat down and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes. 
  • Add coconut milk after soup has simmered, then using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. If too thick, then add a bit more stock. 
  • Serve in a bowl with a large scoop of brown rice and cilantro

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Buttermilk Pancakes

Before delving into pancakes I feel like I need to take a moment to talk about the photos on this here blog. Man do they stink. I know they stink. I don't want you, my dear readers, to think I'm naive enough not to know they stink. I know. I'd love to be one of those awesome blogs that has beautiful photography, step-by-step photos of the cooking process and very artistically designed finished product photos, but I am not.

If it's the middle of the winter and dark outside at 5:30pm, then you're going to get a grainy shot from my poorly lit kitchen or possibly one on our very scratched up coffee table trying to utilize just a shred of natural light. Or if I forgot to take a picture before we start eating dinner, then you're going to get a pic of my half-eaten soup.

So I guess I'm apologizing...or not apologizing. I don't know. You get the picture, right? (pun intended) I hope you guys stay as readers because of the food and not because of my photos (or lack thereof) or my horrible writing (yeesh...that's a whole 'nother issue...).

Now, onto the cakes!

We have a tradition to make breakfast for dinner on Sundays. This started as a way to make Sunday dinner less stressful and a bit easier to plan and make. Most Sundays we do pancakes because they are a crowd favorite around here. Don't get me started about the time I decided to do hash browns and omelets. There was a VERY disappointed four year old.

It has taken me a very long time to come up with my all-time favorite pancake recipe. But I finally have it! I think the key is to use buttermilk and to not overmix the batter. This is also a great base to make blueberry, chocolate chip or banana pancakes. And always use pure maple syrup...the best!


Buttermilk Pancakes
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes  Yield: 15 pancakes

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tb sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 TB melted butter
2 cups buttermilk (plus 1/4 cup if batter is too thick)
2 eggs

  • Mix flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in large bowl.
  • In another bowl mix melted butter with buttermilk, then add both eggs and whisk together.
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until combined, do not overmix. It is ok to have a few lumps. If batter is too thick, thin it out with more buttermilk until it reaches a good consistency. 
  • Using a 1/4 cup measuring spoon, pour batter onto hot griddle (medium high heat) 
  • Cook on the first side until bubbles start to pop through and the sides start to look dry. 
  • Then flip and cook the other side until golden brown. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is so good. I love it as a sauce, in lasagna, roasted, and in soup. But have you ever experienced the tormenting chore of peeling a butternut squash? It's really difficult (or maybe it's just me?), especially with the dull knives I've had for 10+ years (I really should do something about that). To make things easier for me, I prefer to get my butternut squash from Costco in the refrigerated section. It comes in a package already cubed. The recipe below assumes you have cubed squash. But when I can't get cubed squash, I use one of two methods to cook or peel my squash. 

Method 1: Whole Roasting
The name is pretty self-explanatory. You cut the squash in half, deseed it, and slather the cut sides with olive oil and salt and pepper. Then roast in the oven with the cut sides facing down. When they're done roasting, you let them cool until you can handle them and scoop out the butternut squash and add it to the soup. 

Method 2: Microwave
With this method we use our trusty microwave to soften the peel of the squash. Take your squash and liberally pierce it all the way around with a fork or knife. Cut the top and bottom off the squash. Place on a microwave safe plate and cook it on high for 3-4 minutes. Let the squash cool and then use your vegetable peeler or sharp knife to peel the skin. It comes off much easier this way. Then you're free to deseed and chop it up. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour Servings: 8

3.5 lbs butternut squash, cubed (~2 medium squashes)
1 Tb olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tb butter
2 small onions, diced
2 small granny smith apples, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
5-6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
  • While prepping and chopping vegetables, preheat oven to 400F.
  • In a large bowl, drizzle butternut squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix, making sure all the squash is covered. Place butternut squash on baking sheet and roast in oven for 30-40 minutes. When done, take out of the oven and set aside.
  • In large soup pot, saute onions, apples, and celery in butter for 7-8 minutes or until onions and cooked through. 
  • Add roasted butternut squash, 5 cups of vegetable stock, cinnamon, nutmeg, onion powder, and garlic powder to pot. 
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes 
  • Stir in cream cheese to soup.
  • Then using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth.
  • If soup is a little thick, add more vegetable stock, until it reaches a consistency you enjoy. 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve with warm bread and enjoy! 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fall Vegetable Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that I always heard was difficult to make, so I never attempted it. Then my sister made it for me once and I KNEW I needed to learn how to make it. And guess what? It's SO easy. I think the one hang up people have with it is that it's one of those dishes that requires you to always keep an eye on it. But seriously, unless your kitchen is GINORMOUS this seriously shouldn't be an obstacle in putting this into your regular rotation.

Risotto is made with a special variety of rice that's rounder in shape and has a high starch content. The most common is Arborio and that is what I typically use. Arborio rice is a more expensive but I feel it is well worth it when it makes such a beautifully delicious dish like this.

To get the most flavor into the risotto I recommend using a stock as your cooking liquid rather than water. (But water can most definitely be used in a pinch) I obviously use vegetable stock here, but chicken or beef would work well too. For the first addition of cooking liquid to deglaze the pan, I like to add something sweet like apple juice or apple cider. I think it just adds a nice flavor to the dish. And the beauty of risotto is that the possibilities are endless as far as what you add to it. In this recipe I have opted to add shiitake mushrooms, sweet potato, onion and kale. But in the past I've also done peas, asparagus, spinach...the possibilities are endless.

This really is one of our favorites and I hope you enjoy it too!


Fall Vegetable Risotto 
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Servings: 4-6

Note: For best result and for quicker cooking time, it is recommended that you have your cooking liquid heated up. But in my experience room temperature works just fine as well. Just make sure your liquid is not cold. This will slow down the cooking process and cool down the dish every time liquid is added. 

2 TB olive oil
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 TB butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
1 cup arborio rice, uncooked
1 cup apple juice or apple cider
3-4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 cups chopped kale
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add olive oil and sweet potato, cooking until sweet potato is browned and cooked through. This may take 8-10 minutes depending on the size of your sweet potato. 
  • Remove sweet potato from pan and set aside. 
  • Melt butter over medium heat and add onion and mushrooms to pan. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  • Add dried arborio rice to the pan and saute or "toast" the grains for 1minute. 
  • Deglaze pan with 1 cup of apple juice or cider, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently and cook until almost all the liquid is cooked off. 
  • Add 1 cup of broth to the pan, or enough to cover the rice, stirring frequently until almost all the liquid is absorbed.
  • Repeat the above process until the rice is cooked through. I find this takes 3-4 times or roughly 4 cups of broth. 
  • When rice is cooked through, add parmesan cheese, kale and salt and pepper, stirring until kale is cooked and wilted down. 
  • Serve warm with extra parmesan on top