Archive for March, 2009


One of my all-time favorite sides, cucumber salad is quite easy, and can be personalized according to your likes and moods. I like mine slightly sweet, and this time I added fresh dill. Other yummy additions include a little chopped jalapeno pepper, chopped basil, sprinkled peanuts – so easy to just go with what appeals to you. Make this a couple hours ahead, and the flavors marinate in the fridge. Enjoy!

Cucumber salad

1 cup vinegar (plain or wine)

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise then thinly sliced crosswise

2 tablespoons freshly snipped dill

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved, then remove from heat.

Place the cucumbers in a medium bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers, so they’re well-covered. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in and combine the dill with the salad ingredients. Refrigerate at least two hours. Makes 4 servings.

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Oh yes! March Madness and pasta – this dish may go all. the. way. Found on Food & Wine, this one’s a real crowd pleaser, easy to make on a week night after work, and equally good for company, too. I whirled my sausage in the food processor to get it nice and crumbly. And of course, I did not use heavy cream – instead I subbed nondairy creamer, and used 1/2 cup instead of the 3/4 cup called for in the original. This one is a winner. Enjoy!

Pasta with sausage, basil, & mustard

1 pound medium shells

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 spicy Italian chicken sausages, crumbled

3/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup nondairy creamer

3 tablespoons grainy mustard

pinch of crushed red pepper

1 cup thinly sliced basil

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the sausage meat and brown over moderately high heat. Add the wine and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the nondairy creamer, mustard, and crushed red pepper; simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat; add the pasta and basil and toss to coat. Serve at once. Makes 4 servings.

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Simple and easy and courtesy of Gourmet magazine. Enjoy!

Fettuccine with brussel sprouts and pine nuts

3/4 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed and sliced

1/2 pound egg fettuccine

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons pine nuts

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

shaved soy parmesan

Cook fettuccine according to box instructions until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, then add pine nuts and stir until golden (about 2 minutes). Add the brussel sprouts, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Saute over medium-high heat until tender and lightly browned.

Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta and add to skillet, tossing with enough reserved water to moisten. Makes 4 servings.

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Whenever you serve pasta, it should always be Served With Love. That’s who is hosting this week’s edition of Presto Pasta Nights, and is it ever lip-smackingly good.

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Oh my! These were delicious bites of goodness – what a keeper of a recipe. Veggie Belly makes them on her blog, but she calls them patties; to me, they’re muffins, even if mine didn’t seal that well on top. It was so delightful to smell them baking, and then to crack them open and savor all the good flavors. I doubled the recipe, and brought in some to work. My co-workers went NUTS over them, too, and I’ve been requested to make more. Thanks, veggie belly! Enjoy.

Jamaican style curried kale and white bean muffins

1 sheet puff pastry

1 can cannelloni beans, drained and washed

1 bunch kale

1/4 teaspoon chopped green chili

1 teaspoon grated garlic

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon and 1/8 teaspoon turmeric


1/2 tablespoon nondairy creamer

1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Thaw the puff pastry for 45 minutes. While thawing, work on the filling.

In a large pot, bring plenty of water to a boil. Add some salt and the vinegar to the water. Remove and discard the tough stems from the kale. Roughly chop the kale. When the water is boiling, drop the chopped kale in the water. Blanch for 1 minute, then drain. Wash it will cold water to stop the cooking process. Squeeze out all the water from the kale and set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet and add the garlic, ginger, and chopped chilies. Cook, stirring on medium heat for about 30 seconds. Then add 1/8 teaspoon termeric and the curry powder. Cook another 20-30 seconds. Make sure the curry powder doesn’t burn. Now add the beans and blanched kale to the skillet. Turn off heat. Add salt and stir until everything is well combined.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick baking spray.

Lay out the thawed puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry sheet a little. Then using your hands, lift and gently stretch the pastry sheet to make it thinner.

Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon turmeric all over the pastry sheet. Spread the turmeric as evenly as you can using your fingers. Now take a fork and prick all over the pastry sheet – this will ensure it doesn’t puff up in the oven.

Cut one third of the pastry sheet and set aside. Cut the remaining pastry sheet into 8 equal squares. Gently stretch each piece out so that it lines a muffin cup. Place each square of pastry sheet into each cup of the muffin pan. The side with turmeric should be touching the pan. If the corners of the pastry sheet are sticking out, cut them and use them to patch up other parts of the lining.

Next, fill them with the kale-white bean mixture. Take the reserved one third pastry sheet and cut into 8 pieces. Gently stretch the pieces so they fit over the muffin pan cups. Place them over each cup, fold over the corners and lightly pinch the edges together. Brush tops with nondairy creamer (the original recipe calls for milk), then bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden. Makes 8.

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I got this recipe from a dear friend, who found it on Epicurious. It definitely sounded do-able to me, but it had two ingredients (actually three if you count the butter) that I cannot use – heavy cream and bananas. Did I tell you that I don’t like bananas? Well, anyway, I subbed nondairy creamer for the heavy cream, and instead of a banana, I used a carrot, for a little natural sweetness. This soup was a real taste treat, and surprised us with its great flavors. It satisfies. Enjoy!

One of Each soup

1 large yukon gold potato, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 celery heart (inner pale stalks with leaves), coarsely chopped

1 large apple (preferably Granny Smith), peeled and coarsely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 pint chicken broth

1/2 cup nondairy creamer

1 tablespoon margarine

1 rounded teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives

Simmer vegetables and fruit in broth in a 3 quart heavy saucepan, covered, until very tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the creamer, margarine, curry powder, and salt and heat just until hot (do not boil).

Puree soup (I used an immersion blender) until smooth. Serve with sprinkled chives. May be served hot or chilled. Makes 4 servings.

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Many thanks to Sidewalk Shoes blog for bringing this recipe to my attention. I just loved the green colors, and the flavors all worked together well. Easy to make, too. Delicious. Enjoy!

Ultimate Green Salad

6 cups mixed arugula, mache and Bibb lettuces (I used Bibb and radicchio)

1 cup green grapes, cut in half

1/4 cup pistachios

handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped

Combine the lettuces, grapes, pistachios, and dill in a bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over all and toss.


1 shallot, finely minced

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon honey

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine ingredients in a jar and shake to emulsify. This salad serves 4.

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My good friend Mary O makes a killer Irish soda bread. It’s her mom’s recipe, handed down through generations of good Irish bread bakers. Most soda breads, this one included, are made with dairy, and in this case, buttermilk. I had tried subbing soy milk in the past, with yukky results. I have found, though, that plain soy yogurt is the perfect substitution for buttermilk in most recipes, retaining that slight sour flavor of buttermilk without any of the bitter aftertaste of soy milk. This bread is moist and chewy, and is a real treat in our house every mid-March. Enjoy!

Mary O’s Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups raisins

Mix separately:

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups plain soy yogurt

2 tablespoons melted margarine

Combine and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. You can use a 12″ cast-iron skillet (traditional way), or a 10″ spring-form pan, lightly sprayed. Bread is done when tester comes out clean in center. Makes 16 servings.


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Everyone is Irish on Saint Paddy’s day, and around here this past week, we enjoyed the holiday with some favorite dishes and some new ones. A special thanks to FatFree Vegan for her wonderful recipe, which I found to be easy to make, no fat, and yet so flavorful. This tasted even better the next day, and we really enjoyed it very much.

Irish White Bean and Cabbage Stew

1 large onion, chopped

3 ribs celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 head cabbage, chopped

4 carrots, sliced

1 to 1 1/2 pound potatoes, cut in large dice

1/3 cup pearled barley

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1/2 teaspoon rosemary, crushed

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 cups vegetable broth


2 cans great northern beans, drained

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

salt to taste

Place vegetables, seasonings, barley, and broth into a large stockpot. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, check seasonings, and add more herbs if necessary. Simmer uncovered for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Another fantastic find from the blog world – Sparkling Ink blog posted this recipe last week, and it hit our menu this week. Excellent dinner, South Beach-friendly, and lip-smacking good. I used a little less heat than the recipe called for. This is another keeper. Enjoy!

Tangy soy-glazed chicken salad

17 ounces cooked chicken

2 zucchinis

2 sweet peppers

2 onions

a bunch of lettuce

salt and pepper

lemon juice and olive oil

soy glaze:

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 chili pepper

4 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons sugar

Chop the chicken, zucchinis, peppers, and onions into bite-sized pieces. Then chop the chili pepper and garlic finely. Mix the soy sauce and sugar in a medium bowl, and add the chopped chili and garlic. Add the chicken into the bowl, and mix until the glaze covers all the pieces of chicken generously. Let sit in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Cook the chopped vegetables in a little olive oil until only slightly crunchy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat up the chicken in a pan for 5 minutes. Pour in the glaze as well. On high heat, the chicken will get a little caramelized from the glaze.

Place the torn lettuce on a plate. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and a touch of olive oil. Add the vegetable mix to the side, and top everything with the glazed chicken. Spoon the remaining soy glaze on top of the salad. serve while the chicken and vegetables are hot. Makes 6 servings.


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