V. Tacos and the Special sauce

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Let’s just skip over the election shall we? Yeah had enough of that on Ye olde’ Facebook feed. But just to not be without a bit of snark….today I made tacos! VEGAN TACOS! I gotta try and preach some plant based love, I feel like anyway I can take the edge off the heat of the world I should. I’m an omnivore, I am not trying to say different, but there is really no reason I shouldn’t be focusing on plant based recipes….really good ones, I think that its the way the world has to go to sustain life. I have kids, and “footprint” guilt, I want them to be better than me…so I need to do what I can by making plant based eating a normal option for dinner at least 50% of the time. Continue reading “V. Tacos and the Special sauce”

Korean style Tofu Stew

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Kimchi and tofu are a match made in culinary heaven. Both ingredients have haters for sure but those who appreciate the flavors of both will love this vegan recipe. Once you have everything for this soup on hand, it takes all of about 10 minutes to make. I found Wilbrine’s vegan kimchi and I originally didn’t even know it didn’t contain dried shrimp or fish sauce as most varieties do, it is fresh, delicious, and crazy good for you! I find these innovative new vegan products to really be outstanding and as an omnivore, a reason to eat plant based more often, which benefits everyone. Continue reading “Korean style Tofu Stew”

Greek Hasselback Potato bake

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As much as I try to venture into other cuisine, I always go back to Greek food. Growing up in a American Greek restaurant/lounge family has left its mark on every facet of who I am. I honestly never wanted to be a cook, seeing the ever so NOT glamorous side of it, I always wanted to be something else, something people notice, respect, someone special. In other words, for a long time I tried to be something I wasn’t. Pleasing others is such a hollow endeavor, most the time they only notice when you don’t do something they want, and what you realize is the folks who are worth it, like you even when there isn’t something in it for them, or when you are wearing your ugly night gown eating cheetos on the couch, watching netflix, relationships shouldn’t be a constant task of following rules or keeping your opinions to yourself to inflate someone’s delusion….if you have those types of relationships, romantic or platonic….run….like the wind! When I gave into my purpose, I finally started to find who the hell I am. Continue reading “Greek Hasselback Potato bake”

Soy Ginger Ramen with greens

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I know whenever I go visit my family back in my hometown, there will usually be two events I can count on….first we will at some point eat my childhood comfort food of packaged ramen and we go to a Japanese Teppanyaki steakhouse with the whole gang and watch the cook/entertainer make volcanoes out of onions and throw shrimp in our mouths to catch like zoo animals. If you have ever been to one of these types of joints, you may have encountered the ginger dressing they serve on usually plain old iceberg. I love the stuff! Continue reading “Soy Ginger Ramen with greens”

Rustic Lentils and Barley ala crock pot

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You know that feeling when you finally feel like you are home? Well I haven’t felt that way in quite a few years….and finally I feel that sentimental braingasm of belonging that isn’t really familiar to me. With all the anxiety that moving brings we quite possible made the best decision we as a team (my husband and I) have ever made. Abraham Maslow theorized that every human desires membership, order, and meaning. In the hierarchy of needs we need all these things to be “happy” I don’t know if its in a “Pharrell” kinda way or just having a sense of belonging. I actually find it quite hard to be my normal, cynical, self when everything seems to be coming up Zanny (my nickname). With this new optimism comes a rediscovery of things in the past I have been negative about….one I have realized I had unfairly judged would be the crock pot, slow cooker, whatever you like to call them. Continue reading “Rustic Lentils and Barley ala crock pot”

Tahini Noodles

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I really love this recipe, like it in a unhealthy almost obsessed way….why? Because it so damn tasty! If you bring this to a potluck, I promise there will be nothing left over! With a few things that stay great in your fridge or pantry and a few items I bet you already have on hand, you are 20 minutes away from tasty! Did I mention it’s vegan? Well it is and it is tasty enough to show off for company with the ease of buying all the items in a decently stocked grocery store.
Continue reading “Tahini Noodles”

Oven baked “Jo Jo” potatoes, or my love letter to gas station grub.

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I gotta say I ate some gas station food in my day…..one thing in particular was the fav.  Tater logs, basically a chicken fried potato, sometimes called “Jo jo’s”.  I remember my mom piling us into whatever 70’s station wagon we had at the time, without seatbelts (yikes), to get lemonade and 8 for $1 tater logs at “Stimpson’s” usually before we would drive up 28th street in Ogden, UT to see my grandparents and watch some “programs”.  My mom would go to this particular gas station because the fry cook there (my mom called him the “Chef” of course, as she is a lifer in the industry and felt he deserved the respect), I remember the times when we would actually go inside and talk to him directly!  Feeling so star struck, there he was rather chubby with a grimy white apron, a broad Cheshire cat smile and happy eyes. Visiting him was like visiting “gas station Santa” for me….when my sister Georgia got her driver’s license I remember many a night picking up food from the window and getting some sour “C” (probably not an ounce of dairy in the stuff) to go with them at 10 cents a cup, not sure why it was called sour “c” and honestly I don’t really wanna know!  Haha!  Stimpson’s has been closed for many years now, and I still to this day haven’t had tater logs that are quite as good as his, so today’s post is for a dose of nostalgia, I don’t advocate eating gas station food, as most of it is terrible for you and prefab…..but I do want you to think about the exceptional in the mundane, you have to cook with love, you can make something exceptional from the entirely plain if you do it with love and passion, Harriet Van Horne said “Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”  I don’t care how great or expensive your ingredients are if you find cooking a chore your dish won’t be good, the energy that you put into something is consumed by those who eat it.  That fry cook (Chef) loved what he did and that is why I will never forget his potato logs, nothing fancy for sure, but an example of being exceptional, where it is least expected, here is my ode to him, not fried, so slightly healthier, made with love and isn’t that really the point?  So here is my healthier, oven baked version…..eat the sour “c” at your own risk!

This makes a bunch….or in my house 4 servings:

  • 2 lbs. of russet potatoes cut into quarters, I used some small and odd shaped one that I got in my 5lb bag from WA.
  • ¼ cup flour (I used whole wheat “white”)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch (use all cornstarch if you want gluten free jo jo’s)
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. parsley
  • 3 tbsp. Oil, I used camelina
  • Pinch cayenne pepper

Pre heat your oven to 375, in a large bowl toss your potatoes with the oil.  Combine dry ingredients and pour into potatoes, toss well making sure all potatoes are coated.  Place potatoes on baking sheet rubbed with oil or sprayed with cooking spray and bake 40 – 45 minutes, turning half way through.  Serve with dip of choice or au natural!  These are great for pot lucks, BBQ’s, or just dinner on a week night.  Also really fun to get kids involved in this recipe!  I topped mine with a little fresh dill that I had…mainly for food styling purposes, but if you have it, use it, but totally optional!
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Golden beets with amaranth and raw hazelnut pesto

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Whoa Nelly, it’s basil season! Green herbage in general is exceptional this time of year in the Pacific Northwest. I scored today at the farmer’s market I really did! I got some gorgeous “loose” meaning not “perfect” golden beets, whatever a perfect beet is, for $1 dollar a lb! I got the most gorgeous bunch of amaranth and basil for $2 dollar a bunch, which basically looks like an herbal bridal bouquet. Of course our friends at the hazelnut booth had their wonderful raw hazelnuts, so I was set. In my never ending quest to lose 30 lbs. and be free of my ever annoying body issues, I have been trying to adhere to Dr. Furhman’s 6 week all plant based, non-processed diet. Well actually I am on day two, and gotta say it isn’t so bad, it’s kinda great, I am of course not cutting my coffee consumption, and only reducing my beer, we went to the Oregon brewer’s fest yesterday…haha! So today’s recipe is entirely VEGAN! My friend Jenn finally convinced me to give it try after we discussed our similar baby weight, retaining weight while nursing trials, she finally lost her remaining lbs. by doing Dr. Fuhrman’s plan, which she still quite strictly adheres to. Don’t be fooled this salad is delicious, healthy, plant based, oil free, and local! It would be great topped with goat cheese or grilled chicken or fish.
You will need:
2 medium beets, I used golden, I boiled them skin on for about 25 minutes, if you cut them first it will take less time to cook them. Cool, peel, slice.
2 cups of amaranth leaves or greens of choice, arugula would be great
¼ cup diced red peppers, mainly for color, use tomatoes if you prefer
Hazelnut pesto dressing:
¼ cup raw hazelnuts, soaked for 20 minutes in hot water
¼ red wine vinegar
¼ water
2tbsp soy sauce or Bragg’s
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
Ground black pepper
Blend like the dickens, meaning till smooth, if you have a vitamix that is easy…if you have a stick blender like me it takes a bit of effort but this is totally amazing, considering its low on salt and only has the natural unprocessed oils from the hazelnuts.
Assemble anyway you like and eat! Serves two as a meal.
As for my quest for health, I will keep you updated, but I do like learning all types of cookery and I think the more you know about each genre the better you get, and I am very new to this type of cooking but thus far I find it fascinating!
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5 ingredient Tri-colored roasted potatoes

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Sometimes when I’m shopping at farmer’s markets or even the regular grocery store, my menu will change based upon what looks good to me at the time. I was at my local store and saw that they carried a special variety of purple sweet potato, they were local, farmed in WA, seasonal and a steal at $1.99 a lb. The California garnets also caught my eye, they were a bit pricier but not much and since I only needed one it is still way cheaper than buying premade frozen ones….not to mention tastier in general. To round out my palate I also picked up a WA russet, just to add a bit more starch and a less sweet variation and color. I instantly thought of roasting them, I have to admit….I didn’t really like sweet potatoes till my late 20’s (growing up with the canned ones topped with marshmallows, no Bueno)but since then it has been quite a passionate admiration. So here it is a fab, easy, only a few ingredients needed side dish that can sometimes upstage the main!
1 of each potato, garnet, russet, waxy, purple, whatever looks good to you
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Indian curry powder
Thinly sliced shallots or onions
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Pre heat oven to 425 degrees. Try to buy potatoes that are about the same size, peel and cut into pieces about the same size (so cooking time will be the same). On a lightly oiled sheet pan (I used olive oil, just a light coating, if you are feeling extra lazy you can use Olive oil pam), add potatoes in one layer, add a lil more oil, add, salt, pepper, curry, and shallots or onions (1 shallot, or half a medium onion).

Trying to take my "artsy" shot was made impossible by my tater thief in the prime of his terrible two's!!
Trying to take my “artsy” shot was made impossible by my tater thief in the prime of his terrible two’s!!

Roast for 25 minutes, done….I topped ours with some cilantro I had, but you can use any fresh herb you have on hand or leave it out completely.

sneakin snacks while Mom was trying to photography his "nandy"
sneakin snacks while Mom was trying to photograph his “nandy”

Wanna take this recipe to a whole new galaxy? Add my recipe for tzatiki, from yesterday’s gyro recipe to still warm potatoes…tuber heaven!
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Rigatoni with Roasted garlic tomato sauce topped with summer veg

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Growing up we ate spaghetti with ground beef, tomato paste, and dried spices at least once a week. I loved my mom’s simple version of a Bolognese with green can, grated parmesan, honestly, I still do! I make my own variation for my fam often, because it’s cheap and a total crowd pleaser. Pasta and some form of red sauce is a favorite of mine, even Mario Batali claims that if he could only eat one thing again it would be pasta and red sauce. It’s summer here and a meat laden pasta isn’t exactly the most appetizing thing when it hot and humid, so I decided to do a vegetarian variation, that’s a bit lighter, and lighter still on the old budget!
• Sauce
1 28 oz can good Italian plum tomatoes
1 head garlic, roasted (cut off the top of the bulb, drizzle with olive oil, bake at 350 till mushy and golden, about 45 minutes) cool, squish outta the bulbs and mash with a fork.
½ cup wine, if you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it
1 shallot, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
In a medium sauce pan heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot and red pepper, cook till shallots are transparent. Add wine, tomatoes (crushed), roasted garlic, salt and pepper. Turn heat to low.
• Veggies
1 small zuchinni sliced thin (I used a mandolin)
1 carrot, sliced think (again I used a mandolin)
2 cups broccoli florets
1 lb rigatoni
2 tsp butter
In a large pan boil salted water for pasta and broccoli, when boiling add pasta, bring back to a boil, add pasta, cook about 9 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain, add 2 tsp butter or olive oil (vegan), set aside.
In a small skillet heat a T or so olive oil to medium high, add zucchini and carrots, saute about five minutes.
Top pasta and broccoli with sauce and veggies, I like to finish with pecorino and fresh Italian parsley.
Mange!
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