Monday, March 30, 2009

The Best Veggie Sandwich

Last summer I found this cute little downtown market that makes a fantastic veggie sandwich. It's one of the last non-chain convenience markets I've seen and the ladies who run it are so sweet. The sandwiches are made by Jan and they've coined them the 'Jan-wiches'. (The Neighbors Market is located at 44 N. State St, Salt Lake City, 801-355-8061)

This veggie sandwich is just the right combo of tomatoe, pickle, onion, mayo, mustard and lettuce on a really great wheat bread that has millet or some other crunchy seed that makes it SO, SO enjoyable. They make meat and cheese sandwiches too, but since I had been trying to cut calories and move toward a more vegetarian diet, this was a real find, especially so close to my office.

I wanted to recreate it for Fred, so I gathered up the ingredients as follows:
  • Birdseed bread (Whole Foods 365 brand)
  • Vine ripened tomatoe
  • Red onion sliced VERY thin
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Dill pickles sliced for sandwiches (flat)
  • Veganaise (non-dairy sandwich spread) or favorite Mayo
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Vegan or regular cheese

You can put this together anyway you'd like but I find that keeping the wet ingredients, like tomato, pickle, mayo and mustard away from the cheese is best.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Orange Quinoa with Cranberries

This dish turned out to be a nice surprise! Crunchy and nutty, with the essence of orange and the tang of cranberries. It was fairly quick to make and provides loads of protein. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) contains more high quality protein than any other grain. This recipe originally called for turkey breast cooked with Asian marinade. Since I've given up meat and most dairy, I decided to used Tempeh in place of the turkey. Tempeh is also high in protein. This package contained 36 grams; combined with the quinoa and pecans, this dish contained 63 grams of protein.

This particular Tempeh is a soybean, millet, brown rice and barley loaf that's slightly crunchy and gives this dish a great texture. The cranberries, pecans and orange juice add wonderful flavor variations. Yum, yum, yum, this is my new favorite.

Orange Quinoa with Cranberries and Pecans

  • 1-3/4 Cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 Cup orange juice
  • 1 Cup quinoa
  • 1/4 Cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 Cup unsalted pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 package Tempe (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Soy sauce
In a large saucepan, bring broth and salt to a boil. Add juice and quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until quinoa has absorbed all the liquid, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

While the quinoa is simmering, cut your Tempeh into 3/4 inch chunks, then saute in hot oil until brown.

Flip and brown on other side. Shake 1 to 2 tablespoons of soy sauce onto the inside of the pan and tilt to coat all the Tempeh. Cook until all is absorbed. Take pan off burner and set aside.

Soak cranberries in 1 cup hot tap water until softened then squeeze out excess liquid, chop and set aside. Toast your chopped pecans for five minutes in a small skillet on medium low heat until fragrant and golden, being careful not to burn them.

Check your quinoa to make sure its done (should look translucent), fluff with a fork, add the cranberries, pecans, tempeh (or turkey) and parsley, toss and serve. Lovely!

Oatmeal Nuggets

I am dieting - always. And I've been pretty good about it the last few weeks, but the cravings got to me yesterday. This recipe seemed a little less fattening that the traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe, so I gave it a try last night. No sugar, just bananas to sweeten (well except for the sugar in the chocolate!), no butter, just coconut oil, and no white flour, just rolled oats and oat flour. I was worried they would completely flatten when they cooked but, lo and behold, they kept their shape perfectly, as you can see above. Chewy and a bit crisp. Delightful little nugget.

Oatmeal Chip Nuggets
  • 1-1/2 cups well mashed, very ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed so its not solid (or another veg oil)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup almond meal (or oat flour works well too)
  • 1/3 cup coconut, unsweetened, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 oz carob or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Mash the banana then add vanilla and coconut oil. In separate bowl mix the dry ingredients, then add all to the banana mixture.

Combine, then fold in chips.

Scoop out bite sized drops (about the size of golf ball) onto a parchment or other non stick baking surface. Bake 15 minutes, then check. I actually let mine go 18 to 20 minutes so they would be brown on bottom and getting crunchy on the outside. They are so moist inside that if you take them out too early, they don't have a nice mixture of crunch and softness.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dirt Cheap Laundry Soap

An article appeared in our local paper last fall with instructions to make your own laundry soap for a lot less than the name brands. Wow! I know I'm a little weird but that really appealed to me.
(I secretly wish I could raise goats and chickens, build a worm composter in my garage and have bee hives. But that would mean I'd be living by myself; Fred would be gone!)

I like the idea that it costs pennies a load, plus you can reuse your containers. Plastic is one of my pet peeves. I hate how much plastic we recycle. So if you want to try this out, save some of your plastic laundry containers or large mouth juice bottles . (Milk jugs don't work well because the openings are so narrow.) You can find most of these ingredients at your local grocer. The washing soda and Borax are in the detergent aisle. The Boraxo usually shows up in the hand soap area, next to the Lava. If you can't find Boraxo, you can grate your own handsoap. Just make sure its grated to powder; a food processor will do the trick.

Laundry Soap Recipe:
  • 2 Cups Borax

  • 2 Cups Washing Soda

  • 2 Cups powdered hand soap (I use Boraxo. You can also FINELY grate any natural hand soap)

  • 1 Quart water in 2 qt saucepan

  • 10 Quarts (2-1/2 gallons) boiling water
Combine the 1 quart water, Borax, washing soda and Boraxo in your pot and bring to just below boil, mixing until all ingredients seem dissolved and foamy. Using a 5 gallon bucket (or any large plastic continer, like a small kitchen trash can) pour in heated soap mixture. Then add your 10 quarts boiling water( very hot tap water will work as well). Mix again until all soap seems dissolved. Let sit 24 hours
The next day you'll need to mix it again. Notice that the top layer has congealed overnight.

After you mix, start filling your containers. I use a funnel to fill mine. Or push the bottles down under the surface and let gravity do the work. Then seal and rinse well before storing. Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of finished detergent per load depending on how dirty and how large your laundry loads are.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Blueberry Cobbler

This recipe comes from my step-Mother's kitchen. She taught me how to cook during the three years I made her life miserable in the early 1970's. I was a pretty sulky 15-year old who most of the time would rather be cruising around with my latest boyfriend than paint the arbor or pull weeds from her 787,000 quadrillion foot vegetable garden.

But part of who I am today is due to living with that overall-wearing, 'Mother Earth News', taskmaster from South Carolina. I painted fences, canned tomatoes, pickled cucumbers, sprayed fruit trees, grew asparagus, learned to drive a manual transmission, and layed timbers for flowerbeds. I hated every minute of it. (Do you blame me?) That's her. And that's my little brother riding on that barrow full of produce that was produced from my toil and sweat.

Maybe I'm still a little sulky. Who me? Nah.

Today I love, love, love to work in the garden, paint fences and I am so proud of the things I learned from her. And I treasure some of the recipes she's passed along to me. Wait til you try her Hollandaise sauce. You'll never be the same! Her Blueberry Cobbler doesn't look fancy but it's so buttery and the cake turns slightly chewy and carmelized. Just perfect with a dollop of your favorite vanilla ice cream, or in my case, soy.

Nancy Smith's Blueberry Cobbler

Bake time: 40 to 45 minutes
Use a 2 or 2-1/2 qt casserole dish

  • 4 Cups frozen blueberries
  • 3/4 cp sugar (I sometimes cut this to 1/3 cp and its turns out great, Fred likes it less sweet)
  • 1 Stick butter
  • 1 Cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup half & half or evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 400. Heat blueberries and 3/4 cp sugar on medium heat in saucepan, stirring often. Boil for 7 to 10 min. Don't worry, this is supposed to turn the blueberries very liquid. Set aside.

Put one stick of butter in 2 qt cassserole dish and melt either in the oven for 5 minutes or in the microwave. Don't burn the butter!

Mix the 1 cp sugar, 1 cp flour, 1-1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt with the half n half or evaporated milk. No special way to do this, just mix together. The dough is supposed to be very thick. It help hold up to the amount liquid in the blueberries.

Spoon dough over hot butter (right in the casserole dish you used to melt the butter) then spoon blueberries and juice over that. Its going to look like too much blueberry juice, but trust me, it's fine. Bake for 35 minutes, then test the cake with a toothpick. Everytime I've made this, its exactly 40 minutes. I'm telling you, it needs to be brown!

(See, this isn't quite done. This was at about 20 minutes. Back in for another 15.)

You will be tempted to pull it out at about 25 but don't! Use a toothpick to check that the cake is done at about 35 minutes. Although, it looks too brown when its done, the inside is perfect and that crust will be buttery and carmelized - oh so good!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Wow, it's been four years already. Thank you, Fred, for all the love, friendship and adventure you've brought into my life!

We celebrated our anniversary in our usual, non-traditional fashion; hiking two hours to see a nice mountain waterfall and then testing out Fred's new avalanche beacon at Snowbird's training grounds. We also stopped to try a new restaurant in Sugar House called O'Falafel Etc.

Fred and I really miss our little neighborhood Pita House back in Chicago. They had great food and low, low prices. I was so happy to see this little place was opening in SLC.

We had an appetizer plate of Baba Ghanouj, Tabbouleh, Falafel and Jerusalem Salad.

Fred chose lamb kabobs.

I tried Yakni Khudra (carrots, zucchini, squash, onions in a tomato based sauce and rice). I was pretty happy with their food, although their entree prices for a counter-order joint, were a little high. Fred's kabobs were $13.95 and my dish was $10. Mazza is even better, at almost the same pricing.

On Sunday, we continued the Middle Eastern theme with hummus and pita. Buying tip: Costco has THE best hummus for 1/2 the price per pound as the brands in the grocery store. This container is 30oz for $4.99 and the consistency is so much better than some grocery store brands that have the texture of wall paste.

I spread the hummus thinly on large plates, drizzled EVOO in the middle, added fresh lemon juice and sprinkled with paprika. The pita bread is best warmed slightly (if you are doing it in the microwave, 10 seconds at a time so you don't turn it into rubber AND leave it in the plastic bag while warming to trap the moisture).

Here's a picture of me after I successfully prodded my first avalanche 'victim' at the training center. Hopefully we never have to experience a real rescue.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Risotto with Carrot

This makes a hearty sidedish or maybe even a main dish for a vegan/vegetarian diet. I used short grain brown rice to make it a bit healthier than white rice but I've tried it both ways and it truly comes out better with white rice. So you pick. If you make this with brown rice, you can plan on your cooking time doubling, or about an hour. You can choose vegetable broth and non-dairy parmesan to keep it truly vegan, or skip the cheese altogether.

  • 14 oz chicken or veg broth
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 med red onion finely chopped
  • 6 med carrots grated
  • 1-1/2 cups short grain brown or long grain white rice
  • 1/2 dry white wine (I used apple juice instead)
  • 1/4 cp grated parmesan (substitute or omit for vegan)
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, heat the broth to boiling, then turn down to very low simmer. Clean and grate the carrots. The first time I made this, I hand-grated the carrots. Yikes, what a chore. So this time I pulled out my food processor from the depths of my cabinet. Ahh, much easier.

Heat your oil in a large pot on med-high and add carrots. They should sizzle when they hit the oil! Saute, stirring constantly for 2 minutes, then add onion. Season with salt and pepper (1/2 tsp each salt and pepper). Continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Add your rice and 1/2 cp apple juice (or wine). This should be really boiling, you want evaporation taking place, but not too hot to burn. Cook another 2 minutes until juice is absorbed. Now you are going to continue adding liquid (the hot broth) about 1 cup at a time, continuing to stir until all that liquid is absorbed. As you near the end of the broth, the rice should be thickening up and getting very sticky.

If you are using brown rice, you want it to cook another 30 minutes or more after you are done, so you will leave it somewhat liquid and turn the burner to low and cover. If you are using white rice, you will test for tenderness after all the liquid is absorbed. If you find the rice is still not done, add a 1/2 cp juice or water and continue to cook until done. Remove from heat and add parmesan. You brown-rice folks need to keep checking for doneness and add more liquid as necessary, continuing to simmer until done and all liquid absorbed.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spicy Tortellini Soup

Oh my, this soup makes me happy. It's so fast and the spice from the Colosimo's sausage is just perfect. Colosimo's is a local sausage maker who has come up with some sophomoric billboard ads that are pretty funny.

  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 to 3 links of Colosimo's or other Italian sausage (spicy if you like)
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh cheese tortellini
  • 1 bag washed baby spinach leaves or 1 box frozen spinach
  • dash of nutmeg and black
  • grated parmesan to top

Coursely chop spinach and set aside. Using a large pot, squeeze sausage to remove it from its skin, then brown, breaking it into small pieces (like browning hamburger). Add broth and heat to boiling. Add your pasta and continue to boil until tortellini is cooked. Add your nutmeg and pepper, then throw in spinach. Cook just 2 to 3 minutes more and serve with parmesan. You can turn this into a vegan dish by using vegetable broth, vegan ravioli or tortellini and non-dairy parmesan.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cute Little Couscous Soup

I found this beautiful, EASY, soup recipe on I changed it slightly so that I could use ingredients from my local Reams (2 blocks away, how fast is that?) and didn't have to do the extra chopping in the original recipe.

  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth (the Better Than Bouillon vegetable turned the broth a lovely red color)
  • a couple shakes of the red pepper flakes (less if you don't like spice)
  • 1/2 jar oil packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped (I buy the julienned version so I don't have to chop) (reserve some of the oil from the jar, maybe 2 - 3 Tbs)
  • 3 cups of cauliflower/broccoli blend (if you like more veggies, throw in the whole 16 oz bag)
  • 1 cp couscous (you can add more if you like your soup thick)

Bring the broth to boil, then add red pepper, sun dried tomatoes/oil and veggies. Simmer 5 min (10 if you like your veggies soft). Add couscous and stir. Simmer another 5 to 10 minutes until couscous plumps up. Serve with sliced green onions. (I add my onions during the simmer since I don't like the strong taste raw.) Take off heat and serve immediately or couscous can get overcooked. I serve this with a small salad or crunchy bread.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thai Tonight

My brother, Anson, Twittered me this afternoon.

@TheMorsel For dinner?
I thought that was so cute. Short and to the point. Since I have a cold and don't feel like making much, I opted for an easy dinner. I've been testing Thai recipes lately and this cute little box caught my attention when I was shopping at Whole Foods on Friday. This doesn't make quite enough for both of us (Fred snow shoed to the top of Tuscarora yesterday and did another long snow shoe today, so he's famished!) but I added a salad to bulk it up tonight.

The instructions call for chicken, shrimp, vegies or tofu plus a 1/2 cup of fresh bean sprouts. I'm going for the tofu and I also added a bit of shredded carrot and some crushed peanuts.
  • Boil 3 cups of water, then soak the noodles for 3 - 5 minutes. (I set my timer for 3 and I wouldn't go longer than that. They were perfect.)
  • Immediately drain and rinse the noodles in cold water to stop them cooking.

  • Heat up a little oil in a frying pan or wok, then add chicken, shrimp, veggies (in my case carrots and sprouts), or tofu. If using chicken, make sure its cut into fairly small pieces. You don't want your veggies overcooking waiting for the chicken to be done. In fact, I wouldn't add the sprouts until all that is cooked.
  • Once that's done, add noodles and the seasoning packet into the pan. If there is no liquid left, add a couple tablespoons of water so the seasoning can absorb into the noodles. Be careful to turn down the heat at this point so things don't start sticking to the pan.
That's it. About 10 minutes total time. You can garnish with some chopped peanuts and a little lime if you like.