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April 2014
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Wraps, Kasha Vernishkas, and Vietnamese Noodle Salad

In times like these, I’m really happy I own Appetite for Reduction, even though I know a few weeks ago I said I didn’t believe in diet food.  Oh well, what can you say, I’m wishy washy.   Just call me John Kerry.  (That said I like the guy, I’m still bummed he lost) I put away my sweater and realized I was a little softer in the middle than I thought.  Things are going well though, I’m already down 3 pounds from last week, and I wasn’t even thinking I’d lost much of anything…just reshape a bit.  “Re-locate” my abs so to speak.  Anyway, I can’t even complain about eating “diet” food because I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had over the last week or so, healthy and low calorie as it may be.  I actually feel a lot better after meals, and couldn’t be more thrilled stew season is over.

I’ve done a number of wraps…they’re different everyday, basically a tortilla spread with hummus, then filled with whatever veggies are on hand (I think this one had baby spinach, asparagus, pickle, red bell pepper, raisins, and a dollop of low-fat re-fried beans if I remember correctly)

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Don’t be afraid to garnish with carrot sticks…crunchy and delicious with everything, and not currently getting my standard treatment of maple syrup and “butter”.

From Appetite, I made the Kasha with mushrooms and dill…or in Jewish speak, Kasha Vernishkas.  As soon as I started cooking the onion and mushrooms for this, I was transported back to my childhood.  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d eaten the dish, but as soon as I’d started in, it came right back to me…the scent, the flavor….I couldn’t wait to dig in.  This didn’t disappoint, it was exactly what I remembered, although I’ll be honest, I don’t think my family has ever served it up over Collard Greens like I did:

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Last but not least, was last night’s dinner, the Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad.  I used wide rice noodles because I didn’t have the Vermicelli on hand, and replaced green beans with some red bell.  I also didn’t have the fresh mint and had to use some dried…but it was still really good.  Nice and light, which fooled me into thinking I needed a second bowl, after which my head caught up to my stomach and informed me one probably would have been enough.  No one’s perfect though…and that full stomach caught up to me as soon as we did a Bow pose in yoga later that night…not full-stomach friendly.

The Salad:

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The offending bow pose:

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(That’s someone else, not me, but you can see what it does to a full stomach).  Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful spring weather as much as I am!

Selah.

Latin-Baked Tofu Tacos and Raddish Chipatis

This is where the “diet” started a bit…with some of the latin-baked tofu from Viva Vegan, which wasn’t actually baked, since I was short on time and cooked it up in a pan with a bit of non-stick spray instead and that was served up on some corn  tortillas with a handful of baby spinach, sliced black olives and a spoonful of salsa.

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This was actually my first experiment with purchasing the in-house made tofu at my local grocer, and I was surprised at how firm and steak-like the texture actually was….it’s a bit cheaper then the brand-name kind as well, not to mention more environmentally friendly, since I can just stick it in a tupperware of my own, so it is something I’ll be purchasing again, without question.  I do want to be eating more beans and dark greens right now then tofu though, as they are lower in fat.

The next dinner was Indian inspired, based off the bunch of beautiful radishes I saw at the store.  I don’t even like radishes that much as a rule, but I find them so pretty sometimes, that I simply can’t resist the urge to purchase a bunch.   I cooked up the radishes using this recipe (yep, diet food again, I apologize) and replacing the radish greens (mine didn’t look all that good by the time I got to them) with a handful of chopped baby spinach.

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I cooked up some chipatis to serve up the radish saute on, and helped out with some jarred mint chutney and pickled citrus from the local Indian Grocer.  My favorite thing about Indian food is how flavorful it is, since that spice fills me up a lot faster and makes me much more aware of how full I am before I go back for unnecessary seconds.  Which isn’t to say I didn’t want seconds…this WAS yummy.  (Not to mention nutritious).  I’m not about to eat radishes the way my Mother does (sliced up raw on a bagel) but this actually won me over…maybe they aren’t just a pretty face…

Selah.

The Rabbinowitz Family Cookbook

These were all food made in one dinner early last week…and since then I’ve been eating a lot of salads…salads in bowls…salads in wraps…salads disassembled….this is what happens when I go clothes shopping, and don’t like what I see when trying on an article of clothing.  There is something of a diet going on right now, and sadly that might mean less exciting food on the blog for a little bit.  I also often make my most exciting food for Shabbat on Friday nights, and because of the Sabbath, that doesn’t get photographed.  There are no pictures, but you will have to take my word for it that I made the chocolate spice cake with dulce de batata from Viva Vegan, and it was delicious.  Seriously…try it out.

In things that were photographed, we have tomato green beans:

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Moroccan Carrot Salad:

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And a baked Challah dressing (which was actually a Vegan recipe…I was shocked it didn’t call for eggs):

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These are all recipes from the Rabbinowitz Family Cookbook, which I highly recommend, as it is my go-to every Friday Night (And after dozens of attempts, I finally found my go-to challah recipe in it) although it is by no means a low-fat cookbook.  I also skip over the meat chapters, although perhaps I should check them out and see what there is in terms of a new tofu “brisket” recipe in my future…

Selah.

Potato Kasha Knishes

I saw a package of buckwheat at the Asian Market last week, and knew immediately that I wanted it…and what I would be making once I possesed said treat.  Every now and then the Eastern European Jew in me floats its way up to the surface, and this was no exception, because I was thinking potato kasha knishes!!!  There’s nothing like a classic…

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I must admit this wasn’t my own original recipe, as I made the knish dough from Vegan with a Vengeance, and borrowed the recipe for the filling from Food Network.  I did it up with some honey-mustard sauce on the side, and served these as the main event at Shabbat dinner last friday….

I wish I had more to say, but you’ll just have to take my word that these are delicious, and you should make them…because I said so.

Selah.

Vegetarian Hot Pot and Cosmo “Meatballs”

So my new obsession is the recipe sidebar option on google as of last week, where you can enter ingredients in the search bar (as I’ve been doing for years) and then select the ingredients you don’t want included on the side, the time you’re willing to spend cooking, and even the number of calories if that concerns you.  So here it is, another  googled recipe based on what was left in the fridge at the end of the week:

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It’s a pretty standard Vegetarian hot pot, pretty good, but nothing to write home about.  I added a splash of siracha to get things moving, and used soba noodles.  I actually liked the leftovers better, once they’d soaked up all the liquid and had become a flavorful pasta dish as opposed to a soup.  I only had full-sized bok choy in the fridge, but I think this would’ve been a bit lighter and less bitter with baby bok choy if you had it on hand…

And then there was spaghetti and meatballs.  Just a warning, these aren’t Vegan, I did throw in an egg as called for in the recipe.  You could replace it with Ener-G or a flax mixture would probably work here as well, but I was going for dinner in under 10 minutes.  My new issue of Cosmo showed up on Sturday (yup, I’ve had that subscription for about 6 years and counting…even though every issue is pretty much identical) and always want to try the recipes even though the vast majority of them aren’t veggie friendly.  This one was for turkey meatballs, but I figured I could replace the ground turkey with a couple of well-chopped Vegan Morningstar farms burgers.  (Turns out I was right!)

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I took out the dairy as well…so I’ll post the recipe I ended up making, cause there’s nothing like some good ole “meat”balls on a Saturday night.  I didn’t bother with their spaghetti sauce, because at the moment I’ve got a cupboard full of Newman’s Own variety’s provided me by Foodbuzz.

Ingredients
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 tbs almond milk
4 Veggie Burgers, well-chopped
1/2 cup nooch
1 tbs onion powder
1 tbs garlic powder
1 egg, beaten (or alternative)
6 basil leaves chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients into a bowl, and then gently roll into small golf-ball sized “meat”balls. I got 12 from this recipe. refrigerate for at least ten minutes to firm up a bit. In the meantime, pour 2 tbs olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
2. Brown meatballs on all sides in the oil and place on paper towel. Simmer sauce in a separate pot and add meatballs with about 5 minutes to go so they can soak up flavor and heat through evenly.
3. The meatballs are a bit fragile, so I served them into bowls before adding pasta to sauce and combining. Yum.

I sprinkled some dried basil on top even though the fresh version is already in the meatballs, that’s just a thing I do…cause you know, I’m basil happy.

Selah.

Runzas and Pad Thai (Again)

A couple weeks ago I’d never heard of a runza.  It’s too bad really, because MAN are these things good.  I got the recipe off the PPK blog where basically everything involved sauerkraut lately, and instead of seitan, used the chick’n strips I got with my coupons from Lightlife.  I gave the chick’n a quick chop and then treated it as I would the seitan called for, and I was really in love with the meaty texture they gave these.  I like making my own seitan every so often, but for convenience and texture, I would definitely use these again.  Especially in Runzas.

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Pad Thai is something I do a lot, although I suppose technically…this isn’t.  It’s the Brooklyn Pad Thai recipe from VwaV again, although this time I managed to not overdo it with the tamarind concentrate.  I also didn’t have any peanuts to include, which is why it’s not real pad thai….but still yummy.  And this time I even had the right noodles…

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And that’s the week thus far….I made the salt and vinegar potatoes from this month’s Vegetarian Times as well for anyone whose got the issue and was considering it.  They were ok…a bit too vinegary for me, but then I don’t love the chips either, so I’m not sure what I was expecting.

Selah.

Playing on the PPK and Gifts from Lightlife!

I forget to check out the PPK blog from for long stretches at a time…I’m not sure why, because whenever I get over there I seem to want to make every single recipe I’ve missed right away…and then I manage to completely forget about its amazingness for another three months.  Oh well….it’s nice to have so many pleasant surprises at once I suppose.  As soon as I saw the mac n shews, I knew I needed to try it.  I went out and purchased a massive BJs sized jar of sauerkraut (It can’t hurt since the stuff is already fermented it never goes bad, and I knew that meant I could make the mouth-watering reubens from VwaV as well).  The only thing I forgot (amazing since it’s in the title) was the cashews.  Oh well, I had a jar of macadamia nuts and decided that would work just fine as a replacement.  I wasn’t totally right…macadamia just don’t blend as smoothly as cashews do, so I had a teeny bit of grit going on, but the flavor in this was AMAZING.  And if I hadn’t been the one that made it, I wouldn’t have known it was kraut.

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My serving is pictures here gussied up with my favorite hot sauce from Korea…it’s sort of a cross between Franks Red Hot and ketchup…but so much better.  And I have a new favorite Mac n Cheeze recipe….I can only imagine it would be even more amazing with the right nuts.  (But don’t worry, it was enjoyed by the right nut ;)

Since actual carrot cake is a specialty of my roommates’, I left it to her to whip up Isa’s Carrot Cake Pancakes.  Minus some personal problems with our resident food processor, she must have done an amazing job…cause we certainly gobbled these up.  We had ours with some maple-creamcheese frosting I whipped up…and while I’m not generally a dessert for breakfast sort of person, I REALLY liked these.

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They’re pretty hard to see hiding in the background there, but that’s some of the Lightlife Smart Bacon, which I’d never tried before.  I have to say simply from an aesthetic stand point that I was really disappointed these didn’t get all curly like the ones pictured on the box, but I suppose you can’t have it all in life.  I don’t really know what actual Bacon is supposed to taste like, but my roommate tells me these have a SLIGHTLY bacon-ey flavor, although the texture isn’t terribly reminiscent at all.

I got to try these though, because I was contacted by Lightlife products (whose tempeh I’ve been enjoying for years!) giving me the opportunity to try out some of their products free this month.  I went with the Smart Bacon simply because I’d always been curious about it and had never tried it.  I also got a block of soy tempeh which was enjoyed in tempeh reubens (sadly consumed too fast for pictures) and some of their cH’KN style strips which I used in place of tempeh in Isa’s Runza recipe.  I’ll be having the runza’s for dinner later on, so I’ll have to report back on how that goes…

Hope everyone on the east coast is enjoying this move towards spring we’re making…I’ll take rain instead of snow any day!

Selah.

Greek Baked Ziti

Every so often I have to go back to my girl Rachael Ray, and see what she’s cooking up in the kitchen.  I was craving some pasta last night, and when I think happy, tummy-warming pasta casseroles, I often think about my girl Rachael, and I headed over to her website to see what she’d been cooking up lately.  I found a recipe for Greek-Based ziti that was calling to me, and although it called for lamb meat, milk, and cheese, I knew I could keep the original ethnic intentions and make something Vegan and delicious.  I was right, I seem to have a new pasta dish every week, and this continues in that tradition, since I just couldn’t seem to get enough, and my mouth is watering thinking of the leftovers.  I made it into a very “pantry friendly” dish, using a lot of dry spices, and (sadly) no fresh produce.  But that just means you can do this at the end of the grocery week like I did and still feel like you’ve had a very satisfying meal.

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I’d made a batch of the seitan from Appetite for Reduction earlier in the week, and chopped that up nice and fine in place of the lamb called for.  I’m sure crumbled tofu, tempeh, TVP etc would all work in this as well, and I could’ve gone in any direction depending on what was on hand, but in this case, I had the seitan.  That said, you can find Rachael’s recipe here and my Vegan version below.

Ingredients
Salt
1 pound whole wheat rotini (or pasta of choice)
2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound finely chopped seitan
1 tbs granulated onion
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 tsp dried thyme
2 pinches ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
Ground black pepper
1 15-ounce can or jar tomato sauce
6 tablespoons earth balance
4 tablespoons rice flour
3 cups almond milk
A few grates fresh nutmeg (or 1 tsp ground)
1/4 cup Nooch (Nutritional Yeast)
1/2 cup Italian flavor bread crumbs

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place a large pot of water over high heat to cook the pasta. When the water is at a rolling boil, add some salt and the pasta. Cook to al dente according to package directions and drain.

2. Place a medium pot over medium-high heat with olive oil. Add the seitan (or protein of choice) to the pot and cook until golden brown, 4-5 minutes.

3. Add all of the spices and continue to cook until aromatic. Add tomato sauce and simmer until thick and uniform.

5. While the seitan is simmering, add earth balance to the vacated pasta pot over medium heat. When melted, sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk the almond milk and nutmeg into the butter-flour mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in nooch.

6. Toss the cooked pasta with the white sauce. Transfer half of the pasta to a casserole dish and ladle the seitan/sauce mixture over the top. Cover the red sauce with the remaining pasta and white sauce. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top, and add a sprinkling of olive oil so that they will turn golden-brown in the oven.

7. Bake casserole for 30 minutes, and allow to cool for at least a couple before serving…try not to have seconds…I dare you!

Mmmmmm…so good!

Selah.

Adventures in Appetite for Reduction

I’ve been hearing all these great things about the Arabian Lentil and Rice Soup from Appetite for Reduction.   I also thought it would go really well with the sweet potato drop biscuits from the same book.  I replaced the lentils in the soup with fava beans (because I just can’t bring myself to want anything to do with lentils as a rule) and they worked out great, but I was meh on the soup if I’m being honest.  I added a bit of spinach for green, but it just wasn’t my thing in terms of flavor profile.  I like the little shot of lemony goodness but that’s the only thing in here that really excites me.  What I WAS a fan of, was the sweet potato drop biscuits…which weren’t the prettiest thing on earth, but worked out really well crumbled up in the soup…the only really redeeming characteristic of this for me.  Nothing again all those people out there loving this…it’s just not my thing.

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Next up I tried the baked falafel and mushroom tibs from the book.  I was really suspicious of baked falafel to begin with…there’s nothing wrong with trying to make good foods healthy, but with my Israeli blood, I know that falafel are fried for a reason, and I was dubious that these would be anywhere near as satisfying as the traditional preparation, and I have to say I was right. The flavors for falafel were there, but the texture was all wrong in my opinion.  A bit chalky, way too dry, and just not fulfilling the way deep-fried falafel balls are.  Somethings will never become health food for me, and that’s ok.  The mushroom tibs I liked better…I used a combination of button mushrooms and reconstituted wood ears for these since that was what I had on hand, and it worked out great.  I love the Ethiopian spices on this, and the meaty texture of the mushrooms actually goes well on a nice bed of baby spinach greens.  I think they’d be good with some FRIED falafel balls as well…sorry for being a hater, I just can’t help myself.

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What I DID really like, were the black bean, olive and zucchini tacos.  I didn’t have any corn tortillas, but served these up in homemade 100% whole wheat tortillas I made using the recipe from Viva Vegan.  I do think the olives were what really pulled these together…I used black olives instead of kalamatas, and really liked the lightness of them with the black beans and zucchini.  I think if I’d used kalamatas there would have been a bit too much of a briney flavor.  But that’s just me…I can never do anything the way I’m supposed to.

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And that was this week in Appetite for Reduction.  I’m still playing with the cookbook…figuring out what I like and what I don’t.  I’ve always been an Isa fan and will continue to be, although I don’t normally seek out diet food.  I’m more of the mind that if you work hard in the gym, and are somewhat cognizant of your serving size, you can eat the good stuff.  All the time.  And some of the stuff in this book IS the good stuff, others I’m not as keen on.

Selah.

More Tester Recipes, Breakfast and Barbeque. All the Basic Food Groups

This is just a quick round-up of some of things I’ve been cooking lately.  First off a couple more tester for Diet, Dessert and Dogs making an appearance.  First off is a frittata with zucchini and chard, looking incredibly bright in my afternoon lit apartment .    If you didn’t get it from the blush color, I used red chard in this.

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Next up is a tester recipe that is actually up on the original Diet, Dessert and Dogs blog, so you can give it a try!  These are the quick and easy “sausage patties” although they aren’t supposed to look as chunky as mine, my food processor decided it just didn’t want to make these happen as they were supposed to.

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The flavor is very “sausagy”, so much so that I was a bit concerned about it.  They were served up with the “smoked almond” gravy although I used roasted pumpkin seeds instead of the almonds.  I’m actually a bit surprised (and relieved) that the gravy didn’t turn out with a green tint.

Friday night, I managed to make the best loaf of challah I’ve turned out in quite awhile (if not ever) and so Saturday morning, I was obviously making french toast with the leftovers.  YUM.  It’s a classic, just use your favorite french toast recipe to replicate the joy that it is leftover Challah on Saturday morning.  Even better?  The french toast was accompanied by a large Pike Place Roast from Starbucks that didn’t cost me a penny because I found a gift card that no one was claiming at my Parent’s house.  WIN.  That’s real maple syrup surrounding the toast…provided by my Vermonter Roommate.

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Next I decided to give Isa’s Pantry BBQ sauce from the PPK blog a shot.  I used the veggies I happened to have on hand (carrots, mushrooms and peas) and was pretty happy.  I only used a tablespoon of molasses instead of the two called for, because mine is really dark and I’ve overdone it before and made sauces inedible.  I probably could’ve used a bit more, and I’m betting that’s why my sauce wasn’t quite as dark as Isa’s.  Still yummy though.

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Last but not least, another derivative of the oven-roasted brussels that I love so much.  These particular ones were dressed up with sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts.  I’ve been improving on my brussels every time I make them, and these might just be the height of perfection…

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1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
Approx 1/2 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
Approx 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 small onion, diced
S+P to taste
1 cup water
3-4 tsp olive oil

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Put nuts and tomatoes in a bowl. cover with water and lit sit for at least 5 minutes.
2. In a glass casserole dish combine all ingredients, including (drained) nuts and tomatoes.
3. Bake for approx. 40 minutes, check halfway and flip for even cooking.

Hmmm let’s see, what comes next??  Oh right, enjoy!  So much good food, not enough time to eat it in…

Selah.