Green Eggs and Ham (Pancetta)

My daughter is in first grade and she is totally reading like a boss. We have broadened our horizon in literature as well (See ya later Dick and Jane, wouldn’t wanna be ya!) and we are having quite a fun time with Dr. Seuss lately, the first book I could read when I was little was “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish”, so of course she would have access to all the greats. My daughter told me the other day that she thought green eggs and ham would be “gross”. So in my usual style I put that to the test with this recipe…maybe not totally a “recipe” as it is more of a guideline to do your own thing, for example eggs can be replaced with tofu, and ham can be substituted with my mushroom bacon recipe here. Honestly I think we all need to add more vegetables to our meals, why not start with breakfast? This is easy, fun, and you don’t need any gross food color additives to create a bit of whimsy with your meals, I even served ours with star fruit slices to pay homage to “The Sneeches”.
Serves 2
You will need:
2 eggs, get the best one’s you can, totally worth the extra $1. Or sub with half a block of firm tofu, crumbled.
1 cup, blanched broccoli florets, chopped fine. Or use another green veggie you like, spinach, zucchini, etc.
1 shallot, minced.
2 tsp. rendered pancetta fat, this is what I used, you can also use oil, butter, whatever you like.
2 slices pancetta, or bacon, or ham, or even beets would be fun, and of course mushroom bacon.
1 Tbsp. Pesto, any variety you like as long as it green in color.
1 Tbsp. curly parsley, chopped.
2 slices, rustic Italian bread, toasted just before serving.
Cook pancetta, or whatever your “Ham” du jour is. Set aside.
In a non-stick pan, heat oil or rendered fat over medium high heat, add shallots, sauté 3 minutes, add broccoli, cook 2 more minutes, add whipped eggs, or tofu. Scramble together, and add pesto, combine to achieve green shade as desired, add half the parsley remove from heat.
Top each slice of toast with eggs and ham, sprinkle with parsley serve with star fruit and eat! Totally a fun way to start the day or end it! If it’s good enough for “Sam I am” it’s good enough for me! Yum!

20 minute Wild Mushroom couscous

cous2With fall officially in full swing, and mushrooms being at their peak, I figured why not a fast and seasonal recipe? This side dish is quick, easy, and impressive. I found amazing Chanterelles but you can use what mushrooms look best in your area. This serves four as a side dish or 2-3 as a main, the ingredients are easy to find, and it can be easily adjusted to fit any taste. I love using couscous, it is fast, easy, and has great texture, awesome if you are in a hurry as it only take 5 minutes to prepare. A quick sauté on the mushrooms and a dash or two of wine, and you have a five star dish at home for a fraction of the price!
You will need:
1 cup couscous
A palm full of dried porcini
2 cups stock
3 tsp. olive oil
Pinch of salt

Parsley, shallot, garlic, mushrooms.
Parsley, shallot, garlic, mushrooms.

2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. Ponzu or soy
¼ cup dry white wine, or stock
1 tbsp. Butter or butter substitute
2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley, I’ve been loving the “curly” variety lately, its very mid town Manhattan in the 80’s haha!
Fresh ground black pepper
Boil two cups of stock with dried porcini, salt and 1 tsp. olive oil, remove from heat and pour over cous cous in a medium mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, after five minutes, remove wrap, fluff with a fork, and set aside.
Over medium high heat in a skillet heat 2 tsp. olive oil till shimmering, add shallot and garlic, cook a 2 minutes, add mushrooms in one layer, add butter, cook 4 minutes, flip, cook 2 more minutes add ponzu and white wine, reduce a few minutes, toss with parsley and pepper, serve over cous cous. Fungi heaven!


Autumn Rotini


I really like pasta salad, although it isn’t really salad is it?  Well either way today’s recipe is a simple plant based pasta that is as tasty as it is festive.  I still had a beet and a bunch of gorgeous chard from the bounty given to me by my friend Heidi, so I decided to make a healthy pasta that would reflect the color change that accompanies the season and also tastes great.  I used roasted garlic as a base for the sauce, and quickly cooked the chard with the pasta, I utilized some pantry staples and fancied it up with some organic micro greens, instead of the parsley I would normally use.  I think it turned out great, and the kids wanted seconds, so that is usually a good sign.

You will need:

1 lb. dried rotini pasta

1 medium beet

1 bunch of chard,

1 handful micro greens if you can’t find these substitute with your favorite fresh herb or even shredded lettuce

1 can of chickpeas drained, rinsed and dried well

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 head garlic, sounds like a lot but it totally mellows when roasted

2 tbsp. Olive oil

Splash of balsamic

Salt and pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 375, wrap your beet in foil, place in oven.  Chop the top off of your garlic then wrap in foil and set it next to your friend Mr. Beet.  On a sheet pan place chickpeas, paprika and a pinch of salt, toss them together till the chickpeas are coated with spice, place in oven.  Chickpeas will be done after about 30 minutes, they should have a crispy outside and soft inside, check them after 20 minutes to get desired doneness.  Garlic should take about 45 minutes, set aside.  After about an hour your beet should be done.  When they have cooled enough to handle squeeze garlic out of its shell, and dice beet.

Cook rotini in salted, boiling water, for 5 minutes, then add chard, cook another 5 or so minutes, drain.  In a large bowl place roasted garlic, oil, balsamic and a pinch of salt and pepper, mix.  Add hot pasta and chard, stir well, add chickpeas and micro greens.  Serve!  Great hot or cold.

Zuppa Toscana…Healthified!

zuppa2Well it’s been a while since I blogged a recipe with meat in it….but I am doing so today. I am plant based 5 days of the week, but occasionally I like to indulge in a bit of high quality, sustainable, meat. Fall is in the air, and so is SOUP SEASON! Oh man, I love making soup, my friend Heidi came by on Monday and gave me the most amazing harvest of leafy greens and other things from her garden, I was at Wholefoods today and found that they had some great local hot Italian sausage and decided I would make this soup since I was suddenly wealthy in all its main players. Zuppa Toscana is a popular menu item at Italian American restaurants (a large chain one in particular), and a total food fav for me. It apparently is for many people as I have seen numerous versions on pinterest; the good, the bad, and the ugly…haha! I wonder sometimes if some of these bloggers are really good at food photography, but not so hot on the actual product….I am very visually inspired and one of the photos that caught my eye had the most horrific recipe attached to it! This blogger used a roux and a slurry to thicken the soup instead of cream….hmmm…that is working harder not smarter…and to top it off she added two cans of evaporated milk at the end….probably should’ve done the cream at that point. I am not saying this to be bratty, I just don’t want anyone to have to over complicate or over fat a recipe. How do you feel good about feeding your family something that has as much fat in one portion as a slice of cheesecake. So I have healthified this soup, yes it has sausage, but I have removed all the other animal products (you don’t need them when the sausage provides so much condensed flavor and richness), I have included large amount of garden fresh veggies, and thickened with cauliflower puree! It was better than then the originaI! The recipe made probably 12 servings, so you only get a small amount of the meat, with loads of veggies! It may be a few days before I need to cook again though, as this makes enough to feed an army! If you like Zuppa Toscana, try this version, you will love it and no one will know it isn’t the decadent original.

Veggies from my friend Heidi's garden!!
Veggies from my friend Heidi’s garden!!

You will need
1 pound good quality sausage of choice, you can use whatever type you like, even soyrizo (you may just need to add a little extra oil), I used classic Italian Hot pork sausage.
2 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed well and sliced as thin as possible, I use them skin and all
1 bunch lactinato Kale, chopped
1 bunch Chard
2 ribs celery, medium dice
2 carrots, medium dice
1 zucchini, sliced thin, same as potatoes.
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic smashed, and chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes, if your sausage is quite spicy you can omit this
8 Cups stock, I used veggie
1 head of cauliflower, stem removed, and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Over medium heat, in a large Dutch oven or soup pot place sausage and begin to render it of its fat. After five minutes or so add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and pepper flakes if you are using them, cook five or so more minutes, spoon off any visible oil,add potatoes and kale. Add stock, turn heat up to medium high till it is at a low boil, reduce heat, add chard and zucchini, and cover, turn heat to low. While your soup simmers, in a medium sauce pan, place cauliflower and 2 cups lightly salted water, boil for 20 minutes until very soft, then blend until smooth and creamy. Add cauliflower puree to soup, sprinkle with some fresh parsley and cracked pepper, serve! This makes a huge amount so it is perfect for freezing.

Fava falafel

Well after my third attempt at getting a falafel at the pod by our house and being rejected by Mr. Clean’s agro twin brother, (if you can’t stand talking to the general public, service is probably not your calling in life) I’ve decided to make my own.  This cart, makes their falafel with fava’s opposed to chickpeas, and it was amazing the one time I got one, after a twenty-five minute wait, even with the bagged, pre-shredded Dole iceberg lettuce, the falafel itself was divine.  I nearly did a Yelp review about this last interaction, but instead of making a negative experience, more negative (which is Yelp’s calling card, watch Real actors doing yelp reviews on youtube, hilarious!) I decided I would make my own and blog it.  My husband loves this cart’s falafel, and on Friday when I tried to order at 6:30 pm, Mr. Clean just spun and and barked “WE ARE OUT!” then Yosmite Sammed his way back to packing pre-fab lettuce into plastic cambros, my husband was quite disappointed when I returned empty handed.  I decided then, that I would figure this thing out….so I started to research and it really isn’t all that difficult!  The cart has a sign explaining the “three day process” of falafel making….I do appreciate the pomp and circumstance of it all, but as with most advertising this process isn’t really three days of slavery, you have to soak your dried fava’s overnight, but aside from that, it’s not bad at all.  Finding the favas was a bit tricky, as it isn’t fresh fava season, so I had to buy the dry variety, which are the usual ingredient for this process anyway, I finally found some at Zupan’s on Belmont, Bob’s red mill is the brand so probably wherever they stock those products in your local store would be a good bet.  They are a bit expensive compared to garbanzos, but if you like falafel it’s totally worth it!

You will need:

1 ½ Cup dried favas, soaked overnight, drained.

1 small red onion, chopped

½ bunch green onions, chopped

½ bunch parsley, stems removed

½ bunch cilantro, stems removed

A pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tsp, salt and pepper

3 cloves garlic, smashed

½ tsp. each coriander and cumin, ground

½ baking powder

Pinch baking soda

1 tbsp. flour, and a bit for dusting

1 tbsp. sesame seeds

Oil of choice for frying

In a food processor or blender, pulse all ingredients expect oil, and flour reserved for dusting, until it forms a thick paste.  Form into 12 portions, I did discs, you can form them how you like.  Dust a sheet pan with flour, place falafels onto flour, dust top with flour.  Refrigerate at least an hour, the mixture is rather loose so it will be more manageable if cold, you could even freeze these and fry straight from the freezer, they may just take a bit longer to cook.

To cook:

I like to use a medium sauce pan, that way I don’t have to use as much oil, and it’s a little safer if you have little one’s running around the kitchen while you are trying to cook, like I do!  It takes a little longer since you can only do two at a time, but it keeps the oil from losing temperature.  So put a couple inches of oil in your pan over medium high heat, when the oil is shimmering, add falafel, two at time, cook 2 minutes flip over and cook another minute or so.  Place on a plate lined with napkins or paper towels to drain any excess oil, repeat till all twelve are done.  Of course if you have a fryer, by all means use that, due to nature of the mix, baking is not a good option.

I served ours with some tahini sauce, hummus, pita, and some fresh seasonal veggies, pick your favorites!



Mediterranean zucchini ribbon sauté with balsamic reduction

sidedish3Usually the simple things in life are the best, I truly feel that way. Today’s recipe is just that SIMPLE, basically its quick sautéed veggies with a bit of salt and fresh cracked pepper with a drizzle of balsamic reduction. This is great for those garden veggies you are getting late into the season, and it is sexy enough to impress your friends, and might even get those veggie haters to rethink their ways! This side dish takes about 20 minutes to prepare with prep and everything! Serve it over cous cous or with your favorite protein. My kids love these, and they easily fit into a healthy diet.
You will need:
1 medium, zucchini, sliced into ribbons using a veggie peeler
½ red onion, or one shallot, sliced
1 yellow or red bell pepper, sliced
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.
½ cup balsamic vinegar
For balsamic reduction:
Place vinegar in a small sauce pan, heat over medium high until it is syrupy about 15 minutes, make sure and check often for consistency. On a side rant, you DO NOT need to add extra sugar, doing so just makes vinegar simple syrup, why add the calories when balsamic is naturally sweet? You do not need to use a fancy bottle for this either, use your cheaper stuff, if you have a $30 bottle use that without reducing.
In a sauté pan, over medium high heat add oil, when shimmering, add onion and chili flakes, cook 2 minutes, add garlic, cook 2 minutes, add peppers, toss, add zucchini, cook an additional two minutes. Place on a plate and add a lil salt and some fresh cracked pepper, drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Veggie Summer rolls with Peanut sauce

Wow! If today were a candy it would be “Hot Tamales”! I know I should really be excited, soaking in all the vitamin D I can get before we get six months of straight rain and gloom. Last week was fall-like with the cool breeze blowing and a few showers here and there….I loved it! I thought we were done with the heat and humidity….NOPE! Not wanting to heat up the kitchen, I figured today was a great day for summer rolls, sometimes called salad rolls, they are a delicious way to get your veggies. Mine are completely plant based and I didn’t add the extra rice noodles that are traditional, I just added some extra veggies.
To make six rolls you will need:
6 rice paper wraps ( I used Blue dragon brand, and totally loved them)
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks or you can grate them
½ Cup jicama, cut into matchsticks or grated.
½ red bell pepper, sliced thin
½ block firm tofu sliced, you can fry or bake it…I like it as is so I used it plain you can also sub chicken or shrimp
2 Cups baby lettuce, I used a sweet blend, you can sub shredded cabbage or red leaf lettuce
12 stems of cilantro, I use it stem and all
3 green onions, cut lengthwise
Sweet chili sauce or peanut sauce get the recipe here
Divide all veggies and tofu into six separate piles, dividing evenly all ingredients. In a shallow baking pan, add an inch or two of hot water, place rice wrapper in water for 20 seconds or so, they should be malleable, if they are still stiff in certain spots soak a bit longer. On your soaked wraps place veggies and tofu side by side, roll up burrito style, making sure they are tight. I like to leave on side open, just for presentation but that is optional. Repeat with remaining wrappers, fridge em’ till you are ready to serve. I like to cut mine like sushi rolls and serve with cold beer and peanut sauce….yum.
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Quick baked soft pretzels that are a fraction of the price of the mall and super easy!

For this week’s posts I’ve decided that I will do some kid friendly, fast, weeknight recipes. These are kid friendly and easy, but are tasty enough for everyone. School started this week and so does an added level of stress and excitement. Besides being close to having a nervous breakdown when the bus was late the first day Ava rode it home, this year seems to be much easier than last year’s kindergarten transition. With focusing mostly on plant based eating lately, my daughter has for the most part been pretty good about it, she does however have requests, so today’s recipe (if you can call it that, it so easy) was for her. Ava loves those mall soft pretzels, she hasn’t had one since we were in Utah for summer vacation…so I figured I would indulge her a bit. Trader Joe’s is within walking distance from her bus stop so the other day we went to pick up some of their awesome, health- minded products, I bought some of their whole wheat pizza dough to make these pretzels, if you don’t have a TJ’s close by, you can use another brand that you like, the less ingredients the better (avoid the pop open can if possible), or of course you can make your own. In high school I worked at Einstein’s bagels and my favorite job was topping the bagels, we would take the thawed dough, we received it frozen from corporate, and basically the baker would dunk the dough into the toppings, proof, and bake which is what was my inspiration for topping these pretzels.
You will need:
1 bag of pizza dough, usually they are a pound, I used whole wheat to make a bit healthier version then those one’s at the mall my daughter loves.
1 sheet pan, lined with parchment, or cooking spray
Topping of choice, I did two of each kind, sesame seeds (about a teaspoon for each pretzel), cinnamon sugar (1 tablespoon sugar to 1 teaspoon cinnamon, makes enough for probably all six if you wanted to go the sweet route), and some finely grated Tillamook medium cheddar (about ½ tablespoon for each pretzels, I also topped ours with a dash of smoked paprika). You of course could always just do coarse salt and keep it classic, but I was having bagel nostalgia, and my kids love the fun of having the variations. Choose your favorites!
Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Cut your dough into six equal pieces, roll each piece into a long “snake” about a foot or so, seal the open end, twist once or twice and lay the twisted end on top of the bottom….it will look kinda like a heart, I winged this….mine are definitely not perfect, but that is when you call them “artisan” pretzels….haha. You can also just lay them down like breadsticks, but my kid wanted pretzels, you can find a few tutorials on the web if you really wanna get particular. After shaping of dough, press into a shallow dish of toppings, lift out and place on prepped sheet pan, repeat until all pretzels are topped. Bake for 10 minutes and volia! These seriously are just as good as the mall variety, have less fat, unless you choose to dunk yours in butter or whatever, no judgment here, and you can make six for the price of 1! Try this with your kids, its fun and easy!

Faster than take-out plant based fried rice

Well finished with my sixth week of plant-based eating, and I am down 12 lbs. and I feel really good. Gotta be honest, I wasn’t perfect, there were some flub ups, but all things considered I feel it was a worthwhile thing to do. Would I ever call myself “vegan” uh, no, first thing first I hate labels in general, next I am totally sitting on a leather chair as I type (it would be hypocritcal,I would however not buy leather furniture again), I think vegan “butter” is a sham (it might be even more unhealthy then the real thing!), and as a culinary artist (at least I like to think so) I could never limit my materials to the extent necessary to fly under the vegan flag. I think plant based eating is the key to optimal health, there is no question there, Americans do not eat enough fresh food, and the standard American diet is well, SAD. I think if I do purchase and eat animal products in the future, I will be picky, we all should be. I want to know the origins of where and how I am getting what ultimately will go into my body. Look gang, if the burger is 99 cents, that cow lived a horrible life, I truly believe that if you eat something that was stressed out and treated inhumanely you will be consuming bad energy. Don’t spend more on a gallon of gas then you do on your lunch, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones.
American mass market agriculture needs to change, we could feed the entire planet if we could just eat less factory farmed animals! Challenge yourself to try to be plant based during the weekdays, then on the weekend eat whatever you want, you will be healthier and you will naturally be sharing the wealth with others….be picky, if we demand better it will change. My advice right now?? Try and source as much as you can from the actual source of production which is an easy thing that has a “trickle down” effect that makes a difference. I want to evolve and be plant based, but if I am in Italy I’m gonna probably eat the prosciutto, but I’m not gonna support factory farms and I will not be eating animal products for every meal….no one needs to. OK rant done…thanks for standing by. Now for healthy plant based fried rice.
This recipe serves 4, you will need:
4 cups rice, I used left over short grain brown
½ package firm tofu, crumbled, this is your plant based “scambled egg”…my daughter didn’t even notice, switch this out and I betcha no one will notice!
1 cup cooked, shelled edamame
1 carrot, diced small
1 clove garlic, minced
½ small onion, diced small
1 Tbsp. cooking oil, the healthier the better
1 Tbsp. Bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce, you can let everyone add more after it’s done to suit their preference
1 green onion, sliced thin
Optionals: sesame seeds, sambal chili sauce, herbs, whatever else you like or veggies you have on hand.
In a large skillet over high heat, add oil, onion, carrot, and garlic, cook until onions are clear, about 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add tofu, toss, add rice, edamame, and bragg’s or soy, stir using a wooden spatula or chopsticks, cook about 5 more minutes, making sure to stir often. Top with green onions and other optionals! Quick, easy, faster and cheaper then take out, and healthier! This will become a new favorite for you and your family! Kids love it!

End of Summer Roasted vegetables Thai style “Pra Ram” with Tofu

First day of 1st grade for Ava today, gotta say I think we were both ready for school to be back in! Haha! Yesterday we took a trip to the Lloyd farmer’s market, we had never been and I wanted to see what it was all about and I also heard that Mixteca catering tamales had an amazing vegan tamales with mole so I wanted to see how they did that (yeah the chef behind those tamales should probably be granted sainthood). The market was small but the vendors that were there were all exceptional, I found some outrageously gorgeous baby eggplants, zucchini, cabbage, and basil! One of my favorite Thai dishes is “Pra Ram tofu” basically steamed veggies, and tofu in peanut sauce, so with all my gorgeous seasonal produce I figured this was a winner. I did roast my veg instead of steaming, I love roasted veggies and I wanted to see if I could put my own signature on this classic.
You will need:
Veggies! I used 4 baby eggplants, sliced length wise, so I could fan them out for presentation.
3 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise, same as eggplant
1 red bell pepper, chopped into large pieces
1 small cabbage or half a larger one, cut into eights (if you want to see an early post with awful photos about my love of roasted cabbage click here
1 medium onion sliced
2 tsp. cooking oil of choice, I’m still totally in love with camelina, I think I’m ready to commit haha!
1 tsp. salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
Pre-heat oven to 375, rub sheet pan with 1 tsp of oil or use cooking spray, add the rest of your oil to the veggies and toss with salt and pepper flakes, roast 30 minutes, check for doneness, some take longer than others to cook, remove any that are done, flip the rest over and continue roasted for 15 or 20 minutes.
The vegetables are all interchangeable, use what is seasonal and fresh in your area, other choices are broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or mushroom. Another potential opportunity to make it your own!
1 14 oz package of tofu, baked, check out the method here I left off the hoison on this one and cut it into triangles, but you can again choose your own adventure and swap in any protein source you want, but this is a great way to introduce tofu to your family and friends.
For the nectar of the gods, aka Peanut sauce you will need:
1 13.5 oz can of coconut milk
½ cup natural peanut butter, I used chunky cuz I like a lil’ cushion for the pushin…hehe.
1 Tbsp. Red curry paste, I use Mae ploy, find it at the Asian market…great stuff. If you have a bunch of time or you are Martha Stewart feel free to make your own.
2 tsp. sugar of choice, I used palm (coconut) sugar (here again this is a preference thing, you can add more if you like your sauce sweeter, and you can add less curry paste if you don’t like spicy)
2 tsp. Bragg’s, soy or fish sauce depending on dietary preference, I used Bragg’s
A few Tbsp. of water to thin out to get the consistency you want.
In a small sauce pan, add coconut milk, peanut butter, and curry paste, bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the other stuff, cook a few more minutes on low and tada! Tastietime express is ready for you to take a ride (was that a lil’ Guy Fieri? Sorry.)
Serve with your choice of starch, I used brown rice, but the classic is Jasmine, of course you can use this as an opportunity to branch out and pick your favorite starch, cous cous, quinoa, even noodles! I topped ours with some gorgeous organic basil from the market, mine was the regular variety, but opal basil is more traditional, you can add more peanuts, lime juice, cilantro, I used some black sesame seeds cuz they are pretty, and we eat with our eyes first, right? Then serve! What a wonderful way to welcome fall, and eat your veggies all at the same time. Makes 4 dinner sized servings, and you will have extra sauce that keeps well in the fridge!