Tag Archives: vegan

Need to be a Little Crazy

Pasta e Fagioli

For some reason this April has been nothing short of INSANE!  I started a new job last week and the film festival at the USHMM has also started up again.  I was also fortunate enough to spend this past weekend in NYC (2nd Top Chef restaurant) and will also be out of town the next two weekends with other fun things.  There is also a very good chance that in the next 24hrs Joe will be an Uncle…did I mention this month has been insane?!? I have still been cooking like crazy and have some great quick and easy spring time recipes that I can’t wait to share with everyone.
During crazy insane times like these I rely on quick easy recipes that involve very little prep and very little active cooking times.  Meals like these are essential on crazy nights, and the best part about this recipe is that is has everything in it for a full meal.  Just add some polenta or some crusty bread and you have a quick weekday night feast!
2 tbsp EVOO
1 onion, diced
1/2 lb baby carrots, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can cannelloni bean
2 cups low salt veg. broth
1 cup small pasta, uncooked

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook 3 minutes, then add the parsley, garlic, and carrots. Cook 5 minutes.
2. Add the beans and stock and bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and add the pasta.  Cook, simmering, for 15minutes or until pasta is tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve!

Joe likes to top his with some fresh cheese, be it Mozzarella or Parmesan while I prefer to just add some crusty bread.  Hopefully things will start to slow down soon and I can start posting more regularly.  There is an IIP party this week so I will have a delicious Cake Pop recipe to share on Saturday night.  I have this theory that with all the running around I have been doing any Cake Pops that I eat while recipe testing won’t count.  I mean, that’s how it works right???

I Still Do

Pasta with Pepper Sauce


Greetings! I think Spring has finally arrived and with it fresh vegetables and farmer’s markets!   I believe the first ones in this area open next weekend and I can’t wait! This recipe is perfect for spring and farmer’s markets, where it’s possible to get peppers that really taste like peppers.  I made this recipe a few times in college but it really all came together when I made it for Joe’s family last summer.  I also learned a valuable lesson that day: not all meat substitutes are vegan.  However that’s not a problem because this dish is just fine without it.  The key to the sauce is getting the best produce possible.

2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine ( I used Bloom Reisling)
2 large green peppers, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
1/2 lb linguine

1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skilled.  Add the garlic and cook 3 minutes, then add the bay leaf and wine and season to taste.  Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
2. Stir in the bell peppers and tomatoes, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.
3.  Meanwhile cook the pasta until al dente per box instructions.  Drain and return to pan.  Pour the pepper sauce over the pasta and toss well!  Top with some freshly grated Parmesan if desired. 

This dish makes a great simple supper and it can also be easily bulked up in order to provide more protein.  I tend to use Vegetarian Italian Sausages and add them to the pan before the garlic, crumbling them up as they cook.  If you decide to add a meat you will probably need to add 1 tbsp more EVOO during step 2, otherwise things start to stick.  If you are preparing this for any vegans just make sure to double check the meat substitute so that you don’t have any last minute surprises!

Outskirts of New Orleans

Eggplant Etouffee

Happy belated Mardi Gras!  I have never been to New Orleans, I had the chance once upon a life ago but passed.  Looking back on this I have major regrets seeing as how I was suppose to go the spring before Katrina hit, forever changing the landscape of the city.  One day I will correct this wrong and until then I will stuff myself with cajon/creole food whenever I get the chance.  I have already shared my love for eggplant and when eggplant is mixed which a spicy tomato sauce life is good!  The first time I had an etouffe it was crawfish style and I was hooked.  The best part about it was that the dish had crawfish two way: diced/sauted and heads-on/steamed.  I succeeded in grossing out a few of my dining companions when I started sucking the heads out but that part is so juicy and amazing I couldn’t resist!  This version doesn’t have any crawfish mustard which makes it perfect for Lent.  A quick note: I don’t like celery so I use celery salt so I can have the taste without the texture.  Feel free to replace the celery salt with about 1 cup of diced celery.

3 tbsp butter (unsalted soy if possible)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp celery salt
1 can diced unsalted tomatoes
1 bay leaf 
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
2 tablespoons Essence (Emeril brand if possible)
2 cups vegetable stock
2 pounds eggplant, in large cubes


1. Heat a large Dutch Oven over medium heat.  
2. Melt the butter and then whisk in the flour and stir continuously to make a roux. Stir the roux over medium heat until a rich brown color, about 10minutes.
3. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery salt, and garlic to the roux, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes to the pot and season with the bay leaves, salt, cayenne, and 1 tbsp of the Essence. Cook the tomatoes for 5 minutes and then stir in the vegetable stock.
4. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the etouffee, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. Season the eggplant with the remaining tablespoon of Essence and add them to the pot, stirring to evenly distribute. Cook the eggplant for an additional 30 minutes, or until tender.  Serve over steamed rice and/or with some jalapeño corn bread.

This meal is nice and easy and could easily be adapted to a slow cooker once the roux has been made. 

This or That

 Creamy Double Potato Soup

We had another spell of cold weather the other week, so another nice warm soup to go along with it.  I guess when it comes to names I could have called this a de-constructed Baked Potato Soup but I was afraid that might be a violation of Chef Law.  Obviously I need to cut back on my Top Chef watching, but even with all but one of my favorites gone I can’t stop watching to see what might happen last.  I have finally recovered from the loss of Tiffani but I’m still trying to figure out how Tiffany is still there.  However I don’t think there is some conspiracy going on with who has been eliminated, I’m not that cynical, or paranoid, yet.  There have been a number of interesting recipes this season and I plan on trying a few of those in the next month, see if I can bring some of that Top Chef magic home.  It should be noted that this potato soup is not based on Angelo’s, I made this the day before that episode aired and knew he was done when he added bacon AND salt in the final 30minutes.

1 lb butter potatoes, skinned and cubed
1/2 lb red potatoes, skinned and cubed
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 cup (soy) milk

1. Preheat the oven to 400 and lightly grease a large roasting pan.
2. Lay the potatoes on the roasting pan and light cover in Olive Oil along with some salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes, turning once to prevent sticking.  
3.  Meanwhile bring the stock and water to a slow boil.  Gently add the potatoes and cook for 30minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.  Blend the mixture using a hand immersion blender or using a blender, spooning the mixture in portions if needed.  Season to taste and turn heat down to medium. 
4.  Add the milk, along with some pepper, and simmer covered for 10 minutes.  Serve!

I served ours topped with some mixed cheese and some nice crusty French Bread.  A dollop of sour cream and chives would also be nice addition if you really want to go the de-constructed baked potato route. 

Another Day

Mediterranean Eggplant 


So today is my big day, my last day with glasses or contacts.  I’ve taken my eye drops and now I’m just counting down until Joe gets home to take me to THE appointment.  The nerves have kicked in and I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to keep myself occupied over the next few days while I’m stuck at home.  I have no doubts that things are going to go well but at the same time, I’m still nervous.
I have been cooking lately, but I have mostly been testing some new recipes.  The hint of spring is in the air and I want to make sure I have tons of recipes ready to go once the markets open back up.  In the meantime I have my cookbooks open and I’m tweaking and reworking and trying to find what works best for me.  This recipe is one of those.  It started life as a dish for lamb, now the lamb is gone and the eggplant is front and center.  I also added some additional peppers and onions in order to give it a fuller taste.  
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 4 cups eggplant, cubed
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 onion, chopped
– 1/2 green pepper, chopped
– 1/4 cup dry white wine
– 4 cups plum tomatoes, chopped
– 1 tsp oregano
– 1 tsp parsley
– 1/2 cup crumbled feta (or vegan sub)
– salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large skillet heat the oil over med high.  Add the onion and garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Add the eggplant and cook an additional 2 minutes.  
2.  Add the wine and turn heat to medium and simmer until the eggplant starts to soften.  Add the tomatoes and seasoning.  Cook an additional 10minutes, uncovered, then add the feta cheese (or vegan sub) and season to taste.  Serve with brown rice or a crusty bread.

This dish also cooks up very fast, which makes it perfect for a busy weekday night.  I served mine with oregano bread but brown rice would also work really well.  This dish also tastes great with a cup of chickpeas tossed in, nothing wrong with some extra protein!