Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cranberry Hootycreeks

 cranberry hootycreeks -- from
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup minus 1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  
2. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. 
3. In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, the white sugar, and the brown sugar until fluffy. 
4. Beat in egg and vanilla. 
5. Add the rest of the ingredients, and mix together by hand until well blended. 
6. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. 
7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheets, or remove to cool on wire racks.
If you refrigerate the dough overnight before baking the cookies taste even better! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rava dosa

This is the dosa I like the most when we go to eat at Saravanaa Bhavan, this is Mahesh's mother's recipe, I like it because it does not require any grinding or fermenting so you can make this dosa immediately.



-- 1 measure (maybe 1/2 cup) rice flour
-- 1 measure wheat flour
-- 1 1/2 measures rava flour

-- whole jeera (cumin) seed
-- 1/2 inch cube of ginger, minced finely
-- curry leaves (optional) minced finely
-- 1/2 tsp. crushed black pepper
-- 1 fresh indian green chili, minced


1. Mix all ingredients together with water until it resembles crepe batter.

2. Cook like a crepe or dosa -- the bubbles will produce that trademark "rava dosa" look that resembles giraffe skin.

3. eat!

If dosa is too chewy, add a little wheat flour

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made some cookies for Mahesh's parents while they were here visiting. In Mahesh's part of India a few people are only now just getting ovens so anything baked is still pretty new. This was a big hit, I replaced the egg with a "flax egg" made of 1 tablespoon ground flax and 3 tablespoons of water.


adapted from allrecipes

  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (or substitute, above)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.

eggplant chutney -- tohial

This is another chutney Mahesh's mom made that was tasty, we mixed it with rice and ate it with the buttermilk curry.


-- 3 medium-sized baby eggplants, each one approx. 5 inches long by 3 inches wide. Or similar amount of other eggplants.
-- 1 tablespoon oil
-- 4 dried red indian chilis
-- 1/4 teaspoon asofetida powder, or a small chunk of asofetida
-- 2 tablespoons black gram dal or urdu dal

-- salt to taste
-- 1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste

-- 1 handful cilantro

1. cut off the top of the eggplant and pierce the body of each eggplant. Cook over a gas flame or in a hot oven, constantly turning until the eggplant is black all over.

2. Put the eggplant in water just to cover, and peel the black skin off the eggplant and discard the black skin.

3. In a small pan on the stove, add oil, chilis, asofetida, and dal. Fry until it becomes a light brown color. Switch off the heat.

4. Cool the dal mixture, add to grinder, along with salt and tamarind paste, grind coarsley. Add cilantro and grind again. Then add the eggplant and grind again.


More Korrumba Kozambu -- buttermilk curry

This is a strange but delicious sauce that is poured on rice and eaten, usually with a chutney like lentil chutney or eggplant chutney


1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (for easier version, can use 1 tsp. coriander powder instead)
1 teaspoon chana dal (different from chana) (can use 2 Tablespoon fried chana dal instead)
1/2 teaspoon cumin (jeera) seeds (for easier version, can use 1 tsp. cumin powder instead)
1 fresh medium indian green chili
approx 1/2 inch cube of fresh ginger, skin removed

2 tablespoons dried coconut powder (can use fresh coconut instead)
1/2 tsp salt

2 cups of yogurt
1 tablespoon rice flour

1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
4 or 5 dried or fresh curry leaves


1. Soak first five ingredients in hot water for 15 minutes.

2. Add coconut and salt and grind finely in mixee. (as an easier version, can use powdered cumin and coriander instead, and fried chana dal instead of dried -- then you just have to grind the coconut and dal, which is much easier)

3. In a small pan on the stove, add rice flour to yogurt and mix well. Add ground mixture to yogurt, mix well.

4. Heat the yogurt mixture slightly, do not boil, until it foams, then switch the heat off.

5. Cook mustard seeds in a little oil until they pop, add to yogurt mixture along with curry leaves.


parpu togial -- lentil chutney

Mahesh's mom made this today and it was good!


1 tablespoon oil
1/3 cup split toor dal
3 whole dried red indian chilis
1/4 teaspoon asofetida
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon dried shredded coconut


1. put oil in a pan on a low fire, add toor dal, chilis, and asofetida. Fry on low fire until until it's a light brown color -- you will get a fried smell.

2. Remove the chilis from the pan and reserve, add just enough water to cover fried toor dal and soak for 30 minutes.

3. Grind chilis and salt in the mixee, then add the toor dal and grind it all together to make a paste. Add coconut and grind again.

You mix this with rice and eat it with more kurumba. Kozambu?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Kooto or Kutu? How to spell this tasty treat? I do not know. Another recipe from Mahesh's mom. 


-- 1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder
-- 2/3 cup moong dal

-- 2 cups cut up cabbage and/or cauliflower.
-- salt to taste
-- 1 teaspoon sambar powder

-- 2 teaspoons oil
-- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
-- 4 teaspoons black gram dal
-- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
-- 3 teaspoons dried shredded coconut


1. Boil moong dal and tumeric in water until it gets tender. Keep aside.

2. In a separate container, put your vegetables, salt, and sambar powder. Boil until the vegetables are tender.

3. In a seperate small pan (tawa), put mustard seeds and oil, cook until mustard seeds splatter. Add black gram dal, ground black pepper and coconut fry it a little, then add to vegetables. Add cooked moong dal to the vegetables as well.

4. Boil everything together for 2-3 minutes, then you are done!


This is the 2nd main soupy dish that South Indians mix with rice and eat with curries. I have never made it but if I do I want it to taste good, this is Mahesh's mother's recipe.


-- 1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder
-- 2/3 cup toor dal, cooked

--3/4 liter water
-- 1 teaspoon Tamarind paste
-- salt to taste
-- 1/2 teaspoon sambar power (can substitute storebought curry powder for this)
-- 1/4 teaspoon asofetida
-- 1 small tomato, cut into pieces
-- 1/2 teaspoon rasam powder

-- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
-- little oil

-- 1 handful cilantro


1. Mix tumeric powder with toor dal, soak it 30 minutes, or 10-15 minutes with hot water. Then cover with 1-2 inches water and cook in pressure cooker for 4 whistles or until soft. If it doesn't get soft, grind in mixee.

2. While that is going, boil the water with tamarind, salt, asofetida, sambar powder, and tomato until the tomato is tender.

3. Add cooked toor dal, rasam powder, and extra water to the container until the container is filled. On a slow fire boil until froth comes to the top. Turn off the heat.

4. In a seperate pan, cook mustard seeds in a little oil over a flame until they pop. Add to rasam.

5. Add a handful of chopped cilantro to the finished dish.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dosa / Idly (or Idli)

Dosas are my favorite, I have never made them but now that Mahesh's mom and dad bought us a proper Indian mixee (grinder/blender) I will give it a shot someday.



-- 2 1/2 measures idly rice
-- 1 measure Urad (or Broken Black Gram) dal
-- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste (if using 1 cup measure)


1. Cover dal with water, soak at least 5 hours, in a separate container, cover rice with water, soak for at least five hours.

2. Thoroughly rinse rice at least 3 times after it has soaked. Rinse dal also but you don't need to be so thorough.

3. First grind dal with water in blender or mixee until it gets fluffy, not too liquid. Pour in a bowl.

4. Using the same bowl for the mixee, grind rice in two or three batches with water (only fill mixie halfway) until it is a smooth nice batter (can grind a bit more coarsley for idli batter), add to bowl with dal and keep grinding until all rice has turned into batter.

5. Add salt to your batter and mix it thoroughly. Ferment it on the counter for one night, depends on the weather, until it gets fluffy and full of air bubbles. Then stir the batter and and keep it in the fridge after that.

6. When you are ready to cook dosas, make sure the consistency of the batter is right, you may need to add some water.

7. You fry dosas sort of like crepes, pour one spoon in a flat pan, then spread it out in a circular fashion. Drip a little oil on the outside edges of the dosa as it cooks to make the edges crispy. Flip the dosa when one side is finished, cook the other side until done.

8. Eat with gunpowder, sambar, chutney, whatever you want.


You can use dosa batter to make idlies. To do so, add 4 cups water to pressure cooker, oil idly plate and fill each divot with batter until it is flat. Put in pressure cooker, DO NOT ADD WEIGHT, put on high flame for 10 minutes, medium five minute for 5 minutes, low for 5 minutes, then turn it off. Wait 5-10 minutes, then open pressure cooker and enjoy idlies! 




-- 1 cup split bengal gram (also called Chana dal, which is different than chana)
-- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
-- 1/2 teaspoon salt
-- 2 pinches asofetida

-- 4 Tablespoons oil
-- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
-- 5 or 6 curry leaves (optional) can add dried
-- 1 cup cut green beans, or 1 cup cabbage, minced


1. Soak split bengal gram 1/2 hour, then wash and grind it in the mixie until it's coarsely ground with some water to make a batter.

2. Add the batter to idly plates, or any other small metal plate, then steam 2 whistles in the pressure cooker. Then pulse in the mixee to break it all up again.

3. Put the pot on the stove, add oil, and mustard seeds, cook until they pop. Add in curry leaves, if using.

4. Add the dal mixture and vegetable to the pan, fry until vegetables are cooked and usli reaches the correct consistency.


This is the main soupy dish that South Indians mix with rice and eat with curries. I have made it a few times now, this is Mahesh's mother's recipe and when I make it it tastes pretty similar to her delicious sambar. 


-- 1 teaspoon tumeric powder
-- 1 cup toor dal
-- 2-3 teaspoons oil
-- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
-- 3 curry leaves (optional)
-- heaping 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
-- 2 big dashes asofetida
-- 2 1/2 - 3 teaspoons Tamarind paste
-- 4 teaspoons or 1 heaping Tablespoon sambar power (a mixture of red chili powder, coriander powder, tumeric, black pepper, cumin, fenugreek, toor dal, and black gram or channa dal)
-- 2 teaspoons salt
-- 2 cups of any vegetables you want, eggplant, okra, buddah's hand (cherimoya squash), onion, radish, carrots, green pepper, etc.
-- 1 handful cilantro
-- 2 teaspoons sambar spice (different from sambar powder, has the following in it: coriander, channa dal, chili, asofetida, cumin)


1. In a medium high-walled metal dish, mix tumeric powder with toor dal, soak it 30 minutes, or 10-15 minutes with hot water. Then, put 1-2 inches water into pressure cooker, add the container with the toor dal, water, and tamarind mixture, cover and cook for 3 whistles or until dal is soft. If it doesn't get soft, grind in mixee.

2. Add oil to pan on stove, heat over medium heat. When hot add in mustard seeds, cook until they pop. Add asofetida powder, curry leaves if using, and methi, cook until methi gets a little brown. NOTE: If you are making onion sambar, you can add in the onions now and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until the raw smell of the onion goes away.

3. Add 3 1/2 - 4 cups of water and vegetables to pot, then tamarind paste, then salt, then sambar powder, cook until vegetables are cooked through, maybe 10 - 15 minutes.

4. Add the cooked toor dal (approx. 2 1/2 cups) and sambar spice to the pot. Cook 5 more minutes or until it reaches proper consistency, then add minced cilantro, turn off stove.

forgot to add the cilantro for this photo

NOTE: When making sambar for dosa, don't use as much dal, and less vegetables -- maybe just a little onion, maybe add a tiny bit of jaggery.

Coconut Chutney

This is a favorite from Mahesh's mom Sukunya, I have made it a couple times -- when I tried using fresh coconut, even with my indian mixee (a super powerful blender/grinder), I ended up with chunky chutney, but we have recently discovered frozen coconut meat (Deep brand is best) and that makes this chutney MUCH easier.



-- 1/2 coconut (using the equivalent amount of frozen coconut meat, defrosted, is much easier!)
-- 1 handful cilantro
-- 1 tablespoon fried gram dal (can use broken bengal gram dal and fry if you don't have fried gram dal)
-- 1 indian green chili
-- 1/4 teaspoon tamarind paste
-- salt to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon)
-- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds (optional)
-- two dashes asofetida powder
-- 2 t. urad dal (optional)


1. If you don't have already-fried dal, fry the bengal dal in some oil until it's a little brown, then soak in water 30 mintues

2. Add the dal into the Mixee (indian grinder/blender), with cilantro, chili, and tamarind paste. NOTE: can add mint to this if you want that taste. Grind until completely powdered.

3. Add coconut to mixture with some water and grind until it reaches chutney consistency -- a watery paste.

4. In a small saucepan or tawa, fry mustard seeds in some oil until they pop, add asofetida, and urad dal, and fry until the dal is slightly brown.

5. Add contents of saucepan to the chutney, along with salt, and mix together.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Vodka penne

This recipe is very good, it takes a while to bake in the oven but is actually easy to make if you have the time! Becky made it for us last night.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Raspberry Almond Coffeecake

This is one of our favorite desserts, very light, easy to make, and not very sweet. If you like cakes more on the sweet side you may want to add more sugar. You can use any kind of berry in it (or probably other fruit as well), we often use blueberries. Original recipe here.

Raspberry Almond Coffeecake


  • 1 cup fresh raspberries, or other berries
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, or butter pan.
  2. Combine berries and brown sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Combine sour cream, butter or margarine, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and egg, and add to flour mixture. Stir just until moist. Spoon 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread raspberry mixture evenly over the batter. Spoon remaining batter over raspberry mixture. Top with almonds.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tofu barbecue sandwiches

One day I had a hankering for a pulled pork sandwich, the kind that comes with cole slaw in it. The only problem is that I hardly ever cook meat at home, and when I do, pulled pork is just not one of those things I would ever make. Plus Mahesh can't eat it. So I came up with this tofu version which provides some of the same flavors, but is much easier to make, and healthier too. Mahesh loves it, there aren't too many vegetarian sandwiches that taste this good. I am pretty proud of myself that I made up this recipe.

This is a good recipe when you have mixed meat and vegetarian guests over because you can make the cole slaw and marinate some flattened chicken breast and some tofu in the bbq sauce ahead of time (in separate containers please!). Then, it all cooks fairly quickly on the grill, and the sandwiches are fast to make up after that.

Tofu barbecue sandwiches
Makes 4


-- 1 recipe homemade bbq sauce, or just buy your favorite bottled sauce (check the ingredients to make sure it is vegetarian if you are serving it to vegetarians though)
-- 1 recipe southern-style cole slaw
-- 1 package extra-firm tofu
-- 4 buns


1. Cut tofu down the middle to make two square chunks, then cut each chunk sideways into 4 slabs, making a total of 8 slabs
2. Put the tofu and bbq sauce in a tupperware container and let marinade 24 hours or as long as you can wait (I am not good at planning ahead so I often skip the marinating part, it is fine)
3. Heat up the bbq, or some oil in a frying pan. Fry tofu on each side until heated through and barbecue sauce is toasty and caramelized. Be careful not to burn though!
4. While the tofu is frying, toast your buns
5. Layer the cooked tofu on the buns, adding on 2-3 Tablespoons extra bbq sauce from the marinading container (it's okay because it's not meat!) and then a big handful of cole slaw, squeezed to remove excess liquid.
6. enjoy!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

homemade barbecue sauce

Homemade Barbeque sauce

I just made this and now I can't find the link so I want to write it down while I still remember what I did because it tastes pretty good.


-- 1 cup ketchup
-- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
-- 1 Tablespoon Worchestire sauce
-- 2 T. minced onion (the original recipe called for fresh, but I used dried fried onion)
-- 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 2 t. dried fried garlic
-- 2 T. molasses
-- 1/4 t. cayenne pepper, or to taste

1. mix all ingredients in bowl
2. microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick and fragrant. You can also boil it on the stove.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Portabella Burgers with goat cheese and basil

I have made a lot of portabella burgers in my life but this method works the best I think. There are millions of ways you can flavor them but this is what we did tonight and it was delicious so I will blog this one.

Portabella Burgers with goat cheese and basil

Makes 2


2 large portabella mushrooms, stems removed
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 t. soy sauce (approx)
2 t. olive oil (approx)
black pepper
spicy sauce to taste (I used like 3 splashes of habanero sauce)

4 Tablespoons goat cheese
2 large hamburger buns
1 tomato, sliced
salt and pepper
some lettuce or spring mix
sliced onion
6 large basil leaves, minced (maybe 2 teaspoons minced)
1 tablespoon minced parsley


1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Lay portabellas gill side up in oven-safe baking pan.
3. Mix together the garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, black pepper, and spicy sauce in a small bowl. Pour over the gills of the mushrooms evenly.
4. Bake portabellas in the oven for 30 minutes
5. When portabellas are done, turn off oven, break goat cheese into chunks and spread evenly over portabellas, and put back in warm oven to melt while you prepare the buns.
6. Toast the buns, prepare one half with: mayo, tomato slices, salt and pepper, lettuce, and onion.
7. Take the portabella mushrooms (with softened cheese) out of the oven and put on the topped bun. Sprinkle basil and parsley over the cheese. Top with other bun.
8. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Good Tofu banh mi sandwich

Really good! Just the tofu recipe itself is very good also. I bought a fresh baguette but then didn't use it for 2 days, so it got a little stale. A fresh baguette is very important!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Banana Pudding

I have been on a sweets kick lately, and on this hot day I felt like having a cool southern dessert. So I made this banana pudding, liberally adapted from a few different recipes. It is good! I did not add the whipped cream this time but I think it will make the finished result even better. Also: a few maraschino cherries on top.


  • 6 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 large bananas, sliced, one handful reserved
  • 1/2 (12-ounce box) vanilla wafers, one handful reserved
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp sugar 

1) Mix together sugar and cornstarch in a large heavy-bottomed pan on the stove and slowly whisk in milk. 
2) Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 or 15 minutes--do not leave it unattended. The cornstarch needs to reach boiling to thicken, but then the mixture can bubble up quite a bit, so you may need to adjust the heat as it cooks. 
3) Slightly beat egg yolks and temper with about a cup of the hot custard; stir well. 
4) Add the egg mixture to custard pot and boil 1 more minute, whisking the whole time. 
5) Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Let cool. 
6) In a 9 by 9-inch clear dish (or 9 inch round clear dish), alternate pudding, bananas, and wafers, beginning with pudding and ending with pudding. Chill.
7) Whip cream with the 1 Tbsp. sugar until stiff peaks form. Top the pudding with the whip cream, and then decorate the top with reserved bananas and vanilla wafers. 
8) Enjoy!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

chocolate sauce (small serving)

I have been making up David Lebovitz's chocolate sauce for a while, with great results. But lately, I will eat one serving of it and then the rest sits in the fridge and goes bad. So today I tried to scale down the version to make a single-size portion in the microwave, with OK results. I tend to eyeball amounts, that's why I've included 1/2 Tbsp measures in here (and also why my chocolate sauce was too sweet today!). But if you like to measure exactly, 1/2 Tbsp. = 1 1/2 tsp.

The best chocolate sauce
makes 1 large or 2 small servings

-- 1 1/2 Tbsp. water
-- 1 Tbsp. sugar
-- 1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup, agave nectar, or glucose (or just add in another 1/2 Tbsp. sugar if you don't have these)
-- 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
-- approx. 10 bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips.

1. In a bowl, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup (or agave or glucose or sugar), and cocoa powder. You can do this with a fork if you are lazy
2. Heat in microwave about 60 seconds or until very hot. Mix some more with fork.
3. Stir in chocolate chips until melted.

Buffalo Veggie Burgers

So I have been experimenting with veggie burgers for a long time. The biggest problem with many vegetarian burger recipes is that when you're eating them it can be hard to tell what part is the burger and what part is the bun. Finally I have found a veggie burger that is packed with flavor and, if you love buffalo wings like I do, simply delicious.

adapted from this veggie burger recipe. 

Makes 5 burgers


For the patties:
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (such as Frank's RedHot®)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 ounces mild blue cheese
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
To make the burgers:
  • 5 burger buns
  • lettuce
  • tomato slices
  • red onion slices
  • generous amount of hot pepper sauce (such as Frank's RedHot)
  1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. While that is happening, roughly mash the black beans with a fork leaving some whole black beans in a paste-like mixture.
  3. Mix the cooked quinoa, bread crumbs, bell pepper, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, hot pepper sauce, and egg into the black beans using your hands. If the mixture is too wet add in breadcrumbs until it gets to a moldable consistency.
  4. Form the black bean mixture into 5 equal-size portions.
  5. Now, take each burger portion and divide it into 2. You want to make 2 really thin patties the size of the final burger you want to make. I do this by putting each burger half between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and carefully pressing them thin. 
  6. For each burger, take one really thin patty, sprinkle it with about 1/2 ounce of blue cheese, then lay the other thin patty on top and seal them together. You may need to re-form the patty a bit to make it look burger-like. Do this for all 5 burgers.   
  7. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.
  8. Cook the patties in the hot oil until browned and heated through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. 
  9. Lightly toast each hamburger bun. Layer: bottom bun, lettuce, onions, tomato, salt and pepper, cooked burger patty, and then liberally coat the patty with hot pepper sauce. Remember hot wings are basically dipped in red hot sauce, and that's the flavor we're going after, so don't be afraid to be generous! 
  10. Put on the top bun and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

a couple awesome recipes

What makes my default go-to recipe resource are the reviews. Whenever I want to make some dish, especially a more well-known item, I often go there, find a recipe, then sort by reviews. Anything rated four stars or above by over 100 reviewers is bound to be good. That worked out great for me today, these are the recipes I made:

Old-fashioned Vanilla Pudding

Super good and quicker than going to the store to buy instant! I used this to make a red, white, and blue trifle to celebrate the fourth of July.

Quinoa Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Good with a texture remarkably similar to meat burgers. I liked that you didn't have to pre-cook the veggies in the burger like most veggie burger recipes. The taste was a little bland, probably because I skimped on the salt, next time I would add the full amount of salt at least, maybe even more.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sai's Thai Green Curry

This is how my sister-in-law Sai made a quick green curry with the green curry paste we had made earlier. She said the vegetables used were not authentic, she just used what we have on hand here, authentically this curry would contain eggplant and a small round vegetable we don't have here.


-- vegetable oil
-- 1 1/2 Tbsp. Green curry paste
-- 1 cup unsweetened plain soymilk (can use coconut milk, or cream, or a combo of any of these)
-- 1/2 cup carrot, diced small
-- 1 cup frozen peas
-- 1/2 package firm tofu, diced
-- 1 tsp. sugar
-- 1 square frozen basil -- OR 1 handful fresh thail basil leaves would have been better


1. Heat up oil in pan
2. Add in green curry paste, fry up until fragrant
3. Add in soymilk, mix around.
4. Add in carrot, boil a bit.
5. Add in peas and tofu, boil a little more until the vegetables are done.
6. Add in sugar and basil.
7. Taste to make sure seasonings are well balanced, may need to add in more sugar or salt or even some lemon. Add more water or soymilk if you want a saucier dish.
8. Serve over rice.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sai's fried noodles with veggies and tofu

My sister in law Sai is from Thailand, and she and Mahesh's brother Yogesh are here visiting us for a while. Yesterday she said "why don't we make a simple lunch of what we have on hand." I said, "okay." And this is what we made.

Sai's fried noodles with veggies and tofu
serves 3, somewhat scantily


-- 1/2 lb rice noodles, boiled until done to your liking
-- 1/2 package firm or pressed tofu, cubed
-- 1 carrot, juilenned
-- 1/2 lb. asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
-- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
-- handful thai basil leaves
-- handful green onion, thinly sliced on the bias
-- 1 T. soy sauce
-- 2 T. vegetarian oyster sauce (or real oyster sauce, if you are not vegetarian)
-- 1 wedge lemon
-- 2 teaspoon sugar
-- oil
-- red pepper flakes, 1/4 to 1/2 t. 


1. If you want extra-fried tofu, start frying the tofu first in a layer of oil until browned to your liking on all sides. (If not, you start with the onion and just fry the tofu a little second.)

2. Once onion is yellow, add in other vegetables, starting with the hardest first, we used carrot and asparagus first.

3. When the vegetables are nearly cooked, add in the cooked noodles and all the seasoning elements in, mix well, and taste. Adjust the seasonings if necessary to your taste.

4. When you think the taste is good add in basil and green onion, and serve.

Sai's Vegetarian Green Curry Paste

I am very lucky to have been able to spend the last two weeks with Mahesh's brother Yogesh and his wife Sai, who is from Thailand. Since Yogesh is vegetarian like Mahesh, she showed me a few vegetarian versions of Thai dishes. Here is her recipe for Green Curry Paste, which can also be used to make Red Curry Paste with a few variations.

Sai's Vegetarian Green Curry Paste (or Red Curry Paste)
this recipe makes enough for about three curries


-- approx. 8 serrano chilis (or, for red curry paste, 15 dried whole red chilis, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes -- remove seeds for less spice)
-- 5 large cloves garlic
-- 2 shallots, sliced
-- 1 stalk lemongrass, about six inches long, cut off the ends, peel the outside layer off, and then slice finely
-- 1 inch square of galangal root, sliced
-- zest of 1/2 kaffir lime, sliced, or approx 1 1/2 tablespoons kaffir lime leaves, cut small
-- 2 Tablespoons minced cilantro (do not use this if making red curry paste, up the coriander powder instead)
-- 3 Tablespoons yellow miso (or other fermented soy bean paste)
-- 1/2 t. caraway seeds
-- 1/2 t. black pepper, whole
-- 1/2 t. coriander powder (up this to 1 Tablespoon if making red curry paste)
-- 1 heaping t. of salt

-- 4 Tablespoons oil, for frying
-- 1 teaspoon sugar (only for green curry paste)


1. Toast whole spices in dry frying pan until fragrant. Cool and grind to powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

2. Blend spice mixture and all other ingredients except oil and sugar together in a blender, mini food processor, or big mortar and pestle (the Thai way) until everything is a paste.

3. Heat oil in pan, add in blended material, and cook, stirring until dark and thick, about 15-20 minutes. Add more oil if it sticks to the pan. When it is done it will be thick and stick to itself like a dough. Cool and store in fridge for up to 3 months.

-- When making a recipe for curry out of the paste, add in thai basil with green curry, and kaffir lime lives with red curry.

Here is a recipe for green curry using this paste.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

This is the recipe my mom uses to make Macaroni and Cheese, which was a staple on our dinner table growing up, and it is also the recipe I use! I believe it was originally from Betty Crocker.



-- 1/4 c. minced onion
-- 3 Tablespoons butter
-- 1/4 c. flour
-- 1 1/2 c. milk
-- 8 ounces cheese (I typically use extra sharp Cabot cheddar)
-- 1 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles


1. Get a big pot of salted water boiling, add in macaroni and boil according to package directions.

2. While that is happening, melt butter in pan on low-medium heat. Add in onions and cook until softened and transluscent, about 10 minutes. DO NOT BROWN ONIONS. When onions are cooked, sprinkle in flour slowly to make a roux. Cook the roux over the flame to get rid of the raw flour taste, about 60 seconds or so.

3. Get your whisk out and add in the milk, whisking well so all the flour is incorporated and you don't end up with lumps. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens.

4. Add in cheese, stir until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste and your sauce is done.

5. Meanwhile, your macaroni has been cooking and is finished. Add boiled and drained macaroni to sauce, mix to incorporate, put in an oven-safe dish and bake 30 minutes uncovered in a 350 degree oven.


-- 1/2 cup mushroom, minced (add it in with the onion in the beginning)
-- substitute goat cheese for some cheddar
-- a little basil
-- spinach ?
-- anything you like!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rice Paper Rolls

After our delicious Thai Peanut salad experience yesterday, I was looking for a way to use up the extra peanut sauce. Luckily, the Whitewater Cooks cookbook offers a recipe for rice paper rolls that uses that same peanut sauce as a dipping sauce. I had been wanting to try to make this kind of spring roll for a while now, so I took the opportunity to make some up!

The rice paper wrapper itself was quite difficult to work with. It's springy and stretchy and rips easily. It took a few tries, but my expert fajita-rolling skillz perfected at McDonalds really came in handy tonight and I think I finally got it by the last one. I think this is pretty much the perfect summer dinner.

Makes 12 rolls, a light lunch for 4 people or enough for 2 hungry people with leftovers


-- 1/2 batch Thai Peanut Dressing (from this recipe)
-- 12 12-inch rice paper wrappers, plus a few more for casualties (the package I got looked like kind of like this)
-- 100 grams (approx. 4 ounces) rice or bean vermicelli (or other thin noodle)
-- 1 package medium firm tofu, julienned
-- spicy sambal olek sauce, 2 T. or to taste (I like things really spicy, you should use as much or little of this sauce as you like)

Vegetable mixture:
-- 2 carrots, juilenned
-- 1 red bell pepper, juilenned
-- 2 cups bean sprouts
-- 1 cucumber, juilenned
-- 1 bunch spring onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
-- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
-- 1/2 to 1 cup mint, chopped
-- salt


1) Combine ingredients for vegetable mixture in bowl, salt a little.

2) Soak vermicelli in boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until tender to your liking. Drain and rinse with cold water, chop roughly, and keep handy.

3) Cover your wrapping area with a towel so the rice paper doesn't stick to it.

4) OK here is the difficult part -- the rice wrapper! Get a shallow container such as a lasagne pan out and fill it with boiling water. Let it cool a bit. Soak one rice wrapper in hot water for 10 - 15 seconds or until it becomes pliable. Carefully lift the rice paper roll out and lay it flat on the towel.

5) Lay some tofu and vermicelli in a horizontal 5-inch strip right in the middle of the wrapper. Drizzle on approx. 1 tablespoon of peanut dressing and 1 teaspoon of sambal sauce (if you like things spicy!) Add a big handful of the vegetable mixture.

6) Time to wrap! This is hard to describe without pictures, but the way to do it is to wrap the sides of the wrapper over the filling mound, then take the bottom of the wrapper, wrap it as tightly as you dare over the filling mound, tuck it in, and then carefully, roll, roll, roll, the rest of it up. This takes some practice as if your roll is too loose, everything will fall out, if it is too tight, the wrapper will rip.  (this video shows how to do it, producing smaller rolls though)

7) Serve with additional peanut sauce and/or sambal for dipping.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Excellent Thai Peanut Noodle Salad

I made something like this a while back, and I liked it, but it wasn't as good as it could be. Since then, I've been on the look out for a better version. Finally, I found it, in the Whitewater Cooks with Friends cookbook. It's a lot of chopping but the results are worth it. Below is the recipe with my changes:

Excellent Thai Peanut Noodle Salad


1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth
1 lime, juice and zest of
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp sweet chili sauce
4 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
4 cloves garlic, halved
2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1 tsp sambal chili paste, or more to taste (I usually use like 1 tbsp but I like things VERY spicy)
1-2 tbsp oil
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

1/2 16-ounce (454 g) package pad thai rice noodles (rice stick)
1 kettle full of boiling water
1 tsp sesame oil
2 carrots, juilenned
1/2 long english cucumber (or any cucumber) seeded and julienned
1 red pepper, julienned
2 cups bean sprouts
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
2 tbsp sesame seeds


1) Blend all dressing ingredients except cilantro and oil with a hand blender or food processor
2) Add oil in and mix until incorporated
3) Stir in half the cilantro and set aside

4) Place rice noodles in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 10 minutes or until tender
5) Drain into colander, rinse with cold water, place back in bowl and toss with sesame oil
6) Add juilenned carrots, cucumbers, red pepper, bean sprouts and green onions to noodles and set aside.

7) Heat up a heavy-bottomed pan on the stove. Add almonds and sesame seeds and toast until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes -- keep an eye on these because they can burn easily!

8) Add approx. 3/4 of dressing to noddles and mix gently together with your hands, tongs, or two wooden spoons.
9) Garnish with remaining cilantro, toasted nuts, and, if you like, a drizzle of extra sauce or spicy chili paste.

If there's any sauce left over you can use it on steamed brocolli or on chicken or in various other delicious ways. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lemon spaghetti with asparagus

I've known about fiddleheads for a while. As a budding urban forager, I have even considered picking some of the unfurled fern fronds I've seen by the side of some pathways in the spring, but I wasn't sure if they were the kind you eat or not. SO when I saw some for sale at NOWBC, I thought, this is the week we try to eat fiddleheads.

I googled this recipe and cooked it up for us. It was good, if a bit too lemony. The fiddleheads were inoffensive, sort of like a blandish asparagus. The whole recipe was only OK but I thought if I used asparagus instead of fiddleheads, added in a little parmesan, and toned down the lemon a bit, it would be a great springtime recipe. So this is what I want to try next time:

Lemon Spaghetti with Asparagus

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

2 cups asparagus, trimmed into one or two inch chunks
2 large cloves of garlic - diced
1 tsp crushed red pepper 
2 tsp butter
2 tsp olive oil
fresh lemon juice from 1/2 large or 1 small lemon
4 oz pasta (I used spaghetti)
2 tbsp pasta water
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
zest of 1 lemon


-- bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove for pasta. cook pasta according to directions.

-- in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, melt butter and olive oil - add asparagus, garlic and crushed red pepper. saute for 3-5 minutes, testing taste and texture about halfway through cooking. at the half way point add fresh lemon juice.

-- add the cooked pasta to the saute pan with 2 tbsp pasta water, half the parmesan cheese, and half the lemon zest, tossing to coat pasta with the asparagus mixture

-- plate & sprinkle with a generous amount of good coarse salt, remainder of lemon zest and parmesan cheese.


Rapini-Walnut spaghetti

Lately we have been on a spaghetti kick. BUT instead of making a whole box or half-box of spaghetti and gorging until my stomach hurts like I usually do, lately I have tried something I have never done before: measuring the portions. So, for two of us, that's just 4 ounces of uncooked spaghetti, and we will eat it as sort of half a dinner along with something else. This is what I made tonight:

Rapini-Walnut Spaghetti 
based on this recipe from all recipes

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (mine was a small bunch of baby rabe so it probably counted more like 1/2 bunch, also I didn't need to pre-boil it)
  • 4 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (important to use good parmesan here!)

  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the broccoli rabe, and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside. 
  2. Return the water to a boil, and stir in the macaroni. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, cook and stir the walnut halves in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. 
  4.  Set the walnuts aside, add the olive oil, and reduce heat to low. Stir in the garlic, and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. 
  5. Stir in the broccoli rabe, and cook 3 minutes to reheat. Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, then stir in the drained pasta, walnuts, and half the parmesan. If you want to you can add some pasta water here and cook it up to make a bit of a sauce.
  6. Toss with remaining Parmesan cheese before serving.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Vegetable Udon

This is healthy, quick, and easy to make. It’s kind of like a homemade, healthier version
of chow mein. This is something Mahesh and I used to make a lot, but not so much lately. Today we made it again and decided we should put it back in the rotation!

Vegetable Udon


2 heaping platefuls vegetables, thinly sliced. This is what we might typically include, I have marked the "must haves" everything else is up to you:
-- 1 large onion, chopped in half then thinly sliced (this is a must have)
-- 2 ribs celery, sliced thin on the bias (this is a must have)
-- 1 zucchini, chopped in half lengthwise, then sliced thin on the bias
-- 2 medium carrots, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced on the bias (or
-- 1 green or red pepper, thinly sliced
-- 1/2 to 1 lb. Mushrooms, thinly sliced
-- 1/4 large or 1/2 small cabbage, thinly sliced into strips
-- 1 head brocolli, it’s hard to thinly slice brocolli, but I cut the florets off and
leave those be and then thinly slice the stem
-- 2 cloves garlic, minced (this is a must have)
-- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced (this is a must have)

Flavorings, this can include but not limited to:
-- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste (a must)
-- 1-2 t. Spicy sauce or dried spicy pepper (or thinly slice a jalapeno and add it to the vegetables)
-- 1 Tablespoon Chinese Black Bean Garlic Sauce, or more to taste (this stuff is really really good in this this recipe)
-- Whatever other spices/sauces you like and have hanging around.

-- 2 Tbs olive oil
-- 1 block medium-firm tofu, cubed (optional)
-- 2 packages Udon noodles. The ones I use are called Nama Udon, or fresh Udon, they are like thick, already cooked spaghetti and come vaccum packed in 7 oz. packets and look sort of like this:

Here are the steps to creating a delicious meal for yourself:

1. Fry up the vegetables and garlic in the olive oil, starting with the ones that will take the longest to cook like carrots or green pepper and ending with the ones that only really need to be heated up like mushrooms or zucchini. They don't have to be fully cooked at this stage, because they will steam for another 5 minutes or so. The order I do mine is: onion, green pepper, garlic, ginger, carrots, brocolli, cabbage, and then I just throw the mushrooms and zucchinni in at the very end.

2. Add in your flavorings and mix it into the veggies good. You will see that the salt in the soy sauce will bring the liquid out of the veggies, especially the mushrooms and zucchinni, you want that to start to happen. 

3. Unwrap and add in the Udon noodles in a chunk straight from the package. Push it underneath all the vegetables so it sits in the liquid on the bottom of the pan. The noodles will be in one chunk, don’t try and break it up yet. If the pan looks too dry add a little water in there too.

4. If you are using tofu, you can pre-fry it in another pan if you want (although we rarely do for this recipe) add it to the veggie mixture at this point.

5. Cover the pan and let everything steam. This is where the real magic happens and the Udon noodles absorb the soy sauce/vegetable juices/flavorings. After 2 minutes open up and check on the Udon noodles, are they turning brownish because they have absorbed the liquid and starting to loosen up? Is there enough liquid in there? Stir a little to mix all the vegetables and Udon up, then cover and steam some more (I usually flip the block of Udon over at this point so the other side is in the liquid). You will know the Udon noodles are done when they mix up with everything easily and feel soft and warm all the way through, maybe 4-5 minutes of steaming total. When the noodles are done the vegetables should be fully cooked through as well.

6. Serve and eat!

This recipe makes plenty for a main meal for 2 hungry people. Enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Najib's Special cauliflower from Nuba

Nuba is a Lebanese restaurant here in Vancouver, it serves middle-eastern-style food like falafel, pita, kibbeh, all with it's own piquant twist that I love. So if you haven't been to Nuba yet in Vancouver, you gotta go! And while you're at it, call me! I would be happy to join you.

Now, on to the topic of today's post: a mysterious and delicious dish Nuba makes called the Najib's Special, a deep-fried cauliflower dish seasoned with lemon, sea salt, and a tahini sauce. They serve it in a pita wrap, as part of a plate with lots of other stuff, and as a standalone side as well. I have always liked the dish, and last week when a friend of mine ordered just a bowl of the Najib's Special for lunch, I knew I would have to try and recreate it at home -- minus the deep frying. Many others have tried this, so here's my version:

Mona's version of the Najib's Special cauliflower from Nuba


-- 1 large or 2 small heads cauliflower
-- olive oil
-- salt
-- pepper
-- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
-- Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wash cauliflower and cut into bite-size florets. Place florets on a roasting sheet.
3. Sprinkle florets with a generous amount of olive oil, salt, pepper, and the cumin, mix around with hands to coat everything.
4. Roast in oven for 45 minutes, mixing every 15 minutes or so until Cauliflower is browned on the outside and tender on the inside.
5. Sprinkle cauliflower with lemon juice (might be interesting to try sprinkling cauliflower with lemon before baking to see what that does). Taste and add salt if necessary.

6. Serve with the tahini sauce from this recipe. Probably the best and easiest and most delicious way to do this in a pita or tortilla wrap with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, the tahini sauce, and some red hot sauce. That's what I did tonight. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mock Tuna Salad

I sometimes find it difficult to find vegetarian stuff to take for work lunches that a) fills me up all afternoon b) tastes good and c) is easy to pack and eat. That's why I was happy to find this recipe. It tastes surprisingly similar to tuna salad. You can add all sorts of different things in there. Here is the version I made yesterday:

Mock Tuna Salad


  • 15 ounces chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about one cans worth)
  • 2 whole celery stalks
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 2 Tablespoons minced black olives (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced dill pickle or capers (optional)
  • 1 squirt lemon juice (optional) 
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • ½ tsp kelp or other seaweed (optional, I leave this out because Mahesh doesn't like it but it can make it taste more tuna-like)


In a large mixing bowl, mash chickpeas with a fork or flat bottom of cup until coarse and no whole beans are left. Alternatively, pulse beans in a food processor a few times -- careful not to puree, and transfer to a mixing bowl. Mince celery, onion, and other vegetables if using, or pulse a few times in a food processor. Transfer to the mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Add more mayo and/or kelp as necessary or desired and salt and black pepper to taste.

Chef's notes: There are a lot of optional ingredients because this recipe is so variable! Just put what you like in it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pepperoni Beetballs

Even though I'm not vegan (or even vegetarian), Susan V's Fat Free Vegan Blog was the very first recipe blog I really started following. Why? Her recipes incorporate a lot of things I look for in my meals: healthy, tasty, vegetable-heavy recipes made out of whole foods. The first recipe that blew me away was her Patty Pan Squash with Cajun White Beans recipe, and ever since then I have made several more. Sometimes if she uses elaborate vegan workarounds to mimic, say, a cheese sauce, I will deveganize the recipe, but more often than not I just make it as is.

Like tonight. I saw her recipe which she called (somewhat unappetizingly) "Beetballs: A Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Sausage Recipe" which usually would make me NOT want to make the recipe, but the photo looked so good I scrolled down to take a look. From the ingredients I thought it would probably taste pretty good, so I made it up tonight. 

It was really good! Sort of like a rich pepperoni/sausage flavored falafel. It would be great with spaghetti in a red sauce, or sliced on a pizza. We had "beetball subs" with some spaghetti sauce and it was quite delicious! I think you can do a lot with this simple recipe. Here it is, with my small changes/notes for next time:

Pepperoni Beetballs


  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 medium beet
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans, almonds, or other nuts (see note for low-fat alternative)
  • 1/2 medium red or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (mild or spicy) (I subbed chili powder for this since I was out)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon hickory smoked salt or Liquid Smoke (optional)


  1. Place the mushrooms in a small saucepan and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and rinse them well and set aside. If the stems stay hard like mine do even after boiling, remove them.
  2. While the mushrooms are cooking, put the nuts into a food processor and pulse to chop finely. Do not over-process–we want finely chopped nuts, not nut powder. Place the nuts in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Peel the beet and cut it into cubes. Add it to the food processor along with the reserved mushrooms, garlic, and onion and pulse to chop coarsely. Add the chickpeas and all remaining ingredients and pulse several times to chop the chickpeas, but do not turn it into a paste. All the individual ingredients should be recognizable.
  4. Add the processor contents to the nuts and stir well to combine. If the mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon of the reserved mushroom broth. Allow the mixture to rest while you preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, measure out a heaping tablespoon of “dough.” Using damp hands, form it into a ball, squeezing lightly to compact it. If the dough seems too dry, add additional broth (this should not be necessary–you don’t want the dough to be too wet). Place the ball on the lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. You should be able to make about 18-22 balls. If you like, flatten some of the balls to use in sandwiches or on pizza.
  6. Bake until the balls are brown and slightly crisp on the outside, about 35 minutes. (Flattened balls will take a little less time.) Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Why buy cheap, fast sushi two blocks from your house when you can go out, buy a bunch of expensive ingredients, and make it yourself in an exponentially increased amount of time? I don't know why I do things sometimes.  But it did come out good:

Friday, February 17, 2012

ode to gravy


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1. With a chicken or turkey dinner
2. Poutine
3. hot turkey or chicken sandwiches
4. ???

Well, that's three ways anyway. Somehow I thought it would be more. I do love gravy!

Everyone should learn how to make homemade gravy. Why?

1. It is easy to make!
2. It is cheap to make!
3. It is fast to make!
4. It makes everything taste better!
5. Gravy is one of the MOST IMPORTANT things to make homemade. Any store bought gravy is just not as good tasting. Even most restaurant gravies are not up to par.

About this time you should be asking SO HOW DO I MAKE ME SOME GRAVY?? Well here is my recipe:

Homemade Gravy
makes about 2 cups or so

-- 1 pan with roasted chicken or turkey drippings, or chicken bullion, or you can be all avant garde like my mom and use a combo of beef and chicken bullion cubes -- basically we are looking for any combo of meaty liquids that equals about 2 cups.
-- 2 T. flour
-- 1 cup water
-- salt and pepper
-- gravy darkener, or instant coffee grounds (optional if you want darker gravy)

1. PREPARE YOUR LIQUID -- take your pan drippings, if you are using them, and strain them to get any gross fatty chunks out. If you can make the gravy IN the roasting pan itself that is the best because you can scrape up the roasty brown chunks which are what make gravy the most delicious. You can let the drippings settle and then pour off the fat if you want a lower-fat gravy, it still tastes just as delicious. One thing is that if you have brined your chicken or turkey, you may not be able to use the drippings as is because they can be too salty. When that happens, I usually just add water to the drippings until the salt content is fine. If you don't have that much liquid, add bullion cubes and water so your total liquid equals about 2 cups. OR you can always just use 2 cups worth of bullion and water and forget the drippings altogether, but your gravy will be not quite as delicious.

2. BOIL THE LIQUID -- put the liquid in a pan over med-high heat and boil.

3. MAKE FLOUR/WATER SLURRY -- Anytime you get to make a slurry is a good time. Just saying the word is fun. Slurry. Slurry. Slurry. Yeah. Get about 1 cup of cold water. Add 2 Tablespoons of flour to the water, and mix it up super well with a fork or whisk. You want to make sure there are NO LUMPS IN THIS so mix well.

4. WHISK WHISK WHISK -- Whisk the boiling liquid in the pan. Mix the slurry one more time and pour in a thin stream right into where you are whisking to make sure to get it super whisked into the hot broth BEFORE it starts to cook. Lazy whisking is what causes LUMPY GRAVY which is a misdemeanor in some states, so tell your children to step away and GO CRAZY with the whisk. Keep whisking ask the mixture comes back to a boil, and you will notice as the gravy boils it thickens up very quickly. Make sure the gravy is as thick as it is going to get before you stop whisking.

5. CHECK CONSISTENCY -- Depending on how thick or thin you like your gravy, either thin it out with water, or add more slurry until your gravy becomes as thick as you like. I tend to make it thin because it thickens up as it sits.

6. CHECK FLAVORINGS -- Taste your gravy. Does it need salt and pepper? If so, add some. My mom always used to use the commercial gravy darkeners to make her gravies look better. Sometimes I just throw in a little instant coffee and it does the same thing.

Enjoy! And soon you will be writing your own Ode to Gravy!

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Okay, when Mahesh is out of town it is my chance to cook up some meat dishes! I have been craving sausage so I went and bought some last night and this is what I made with it:

Heat in a large skillet over medium heat:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Remove the casings from and add:
2 sweet Italian sausages (about 1/2 pound/250g)
Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in and cook for 1 minute:
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Stir in:
1/2 large bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed and coarsely chopped, or 3/4 pounds broccoli (300g), trimmed, stems peeled, and coarsely chopped

Salt and black pepper to taste
Cover and cook just until tender, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook in a large pot of boiling salted water:
1/2 pound (250g) orecchiette or cavatelli (or any other smallish pasta)
Drain the pasta, add it to the skillet, and toss over low heat. Serve, sprinked with:
Grated Romano

OH MY GOODNESS it was delicious. THE SAUSAGE GREASE MAKES THE SAUCE GUYS. How can it not be good? Next time I would add many more veggies though, bell pepper, onions, even spinach would be great in it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Baked or pan-fried Falafel with tahini sauce

We are big fans of falafel, BUT it is typically deep-fried, so for the first time I tried making a pan-fried version at home. It came out very good (for healthy falafel, anyway) and I really loved the tangy sauce on the sandwich. Mahesh said he would like the falafels to have more flavor but I just thought they needed a little more salt so I have doubled the soy sauce below, but I also might try increasing the parsley, spices and/or onion and garlic too (not sure by how much though). The recipe below is based on the recipe in this video:

For the Falafels:
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, washed and drained (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 T lemon juice
3 T onion
1 clove garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup garbanzo flour (also called chana flour, I found this in the bulk section of a health store)
1/4 tsp baking powder

For the Tahini Sauce:

Yield: 2/3 cup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
a few grinds black pepper
3 T tahini (a fermented sesame seed paste, can find it in the middle eastern section of stores)


4 pita bread
4-8 lettuce leaves
1 cup chopped tomato
16-20 slices of cucumber
red hot sauce

For the Falafels:
Put all ingredients except the garbanzo flour and baking powder into a food processor. Process everything until it becomes smooth but not quite a puree. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse until mixed in. Scoop by tablespoon and form into balls. Flatten them slightly (about 1/2 inch thick). At this point you can deep fry them, pan fry them, or bake them. Deep fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes OR Pan fry in lightly oiled pan on medium-high heat until browned on both sides OR Bake in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes turning them half way through the baking process.

For the Tahini Sauce:

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl.

To Assemble the Pita:

Cut 1/2 inch off the top of pita. Open pocket and insert lettuce, 2-3 falafel balls, 1/4 cup tomato, 4 slices of cucumber, 1-2 tablespoons of tahini sauce, and red hot sauce to taste.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Banana-jam muffins

We don't typically eat a lot of cold cereal, but lately both Mahesh and I have been on a frosted mini-wheats kick. One downside to this is the bottom of the bag has so many crumbs. I hate wasting food, but I also do not want to eat them as cold cereal. So I found this muffin recipe that uses up the crumbs. It is incredibly variable, and tastes great! Here are the modifications I would like to use next time we have extra mini-wheats crumbs to use up:

Banana-jam Muffins (or Banana fruit muffins)

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 12


1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar (can use less than this because those crumbs are sugary! maybe 1/4 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups Frosted Mini-Wheats (crushed to 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 small bananas)
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons Jam or preserves (or 3/4 cup frozen blueberries or other chopped fruit)


1. Butter or spray one 12-cup muffin pan, or use liners.

2. In medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In large bowl stir together Frosted Mini-Wheats crumbs, banana and milk. Let stand about 5 minutes or until cereal softens. Add egg, oil and vanilla. Beat well. Add flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Here is where you add in the fruit if you are using it, and fill the muffin pans evenly.

IF you are using jam, portion half of the batter evenly into muffin pan. Top each muffin with scant teaspoon preserves. Portion remaining batter evenly on top of preserves.

4. Bake at 375°F about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

African Peanut Soup

This is one of those recipes that I don't make very often, but wish I made more because it is so delicious and satisfying. It is an extremely variable recipe, in addition to the ingredients below you could throw in pretty much whatever extra veggies you like or happen to have on hand: carrots, cauliflower, fennel, whatever. For a vegan soup, it offers that strong flavor that usually only meaty soups provide. Delicious!


African Peanut Soup


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 large red bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, with liquid (I prefer to use 1 14-oz can tomatoes, and 1 1/2 cups salsa)
  • 8 cups vegetable broth or stock (or water)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • 2/3 cup extra crunchy peanut butter (I use smooth too if it is all I have)
  • 2/3 cup uncooked brown rice or barley


  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Cook onions and bell peppers until lightly browned and tender, stirring in garlic when almost done to prevent burning. Stir in tomatoes (or tomatoes and salsa) vegetable stock, pepper, and chili powder. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in rice, cover, and simmer another fifteen minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in peanut butter until well blended, and serve.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bread Machine Wheaty Flax Bread

For a while there I was making all our bread at home. I have lapsed on this a bit, but still make a lot of bread. Here is the recipe I use most often:

Wheaty Flax Bread

  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour or white flour
  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat bread flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon vital wheat gluten, optional, if you want fluffier bread (I usually do not use this)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ or oatmeal or sunflower seeds

  1. Measure warm water into bowl, add in butter, honey, molasses and stir well to combine. Sprinkle yeast on top and set aside to bloom for a bit.
  2. Add dry ingredients to bread pan.
  3. Stir up water mixture and dump into bread pan
  4. Select basic wheat cycle; press start. 
  5. Once it is mixed up CHECK DOUGH FOR CONSISTENCY -- on different days, different flours can produce different results. You want a nice dough that cleans the sides of the bowl. If it is too wet, add more flour. If it is too dry, add a little more water.
  6. If using, you can add the sunflower seeds when the alert sounds during the knead cycle so they don't get pulverized, if you want.
  7. Makes 1 1/2 lb loaf