April 18, 2012

I’ve been toying with the idea of this recipe ever since having something similar at a local restaurant.  Although they top their version with sausage and pancetta, I think my version is just as tasty.  You really could do a variety of toppings on this one, for example, if I wasn’t cooking for a certain person who doesn’t like mushrooms or caramelized onions, I would have definitely added those two ingredients!

Pizza dough (I love the whole wheat pre-made refrigerated pizza dough at Trader Joe’s.)
1 12 oz container of Tzatziki (Again, Trader Joe’s has a great Tzatziki!)
Shredded Mozzarella
Crumbled Feta (If you can find the kind that has added mediterranean herbs, get that! And just in case: Trader Joe’s has a great one!)
Artichoke Hearts
Kalamata olives

Preheat oven to 450 and roll pizza dough out on floured surface. Cook pizza dough at 450 for a few minutes.  Remove from oven and top with Tzatziki, then shredded mozzarella. (Really, use as much as you want. I did a fairly thin layer covering the entire pizza.) Top with sliced olives and artichoke hearts, then sprinkle with feta.  Bake until the crust and cheese is slightly brown, took about ten minutes for me. Enjoy!!! I’m looking forward to the leftovers for dinner tonight!


Caprese Lasagna

April 1, 2012

I love love love Caprese…Tomato, mozzarella and basil together are a little taste of heaven. I’ve played around with the combination and come up with a variety of pastas and salads.  Tonight, I decided to try lasagna, and I have to say it was a success!

This made 8 servings of lasagna in an 8 x 12 pan. If you want to use a 9 x 13, increase the amount of noodles to 12 and I’d add an extra chopped tomato.

1 medium-large sweet yellow onion, chopped

3 – 4 tomatoes, chopped

1 – 2 tomatoes, sliced

9 lasagna noodles (I used whole wheat)

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 package fresh, whole milk mozzarella, sliced

Fresh basil, chopped

In frying pan, saute onions on medium heat in olive oil.  (If you have extra calories to burn, add a little butter. If you cook while drinking wine, like me, pour a little of that in, too!) When onions are transluscent and soft, add tomatoes and continue to heat, stirring frequently, until tomatoes are softened, about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt. I added a few dashes of dried basil, oregano and thyme. Feel free to sprinkle in any dried Italian seasonings you like, or don’t! It’s up to you.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the noodles. Cook until they are al dente, about 8 minutes. Rinse with cold water and lay flat on a paper towel until ready to use.

Spray your baking sheet with cooking spray.  Layer 3 noodles across the bottom of pan. Top with half the tomato/onion mix, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, and chopped  basil.

Repeat noodles, tomatoes/onion, shredded mozzarella and basil one more time, then top with last 3 noodles.

Lay sliced tomato and sliced mozzarella on noodles and sprinkle with remaining basil.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. Enjoy!

Matzo Ball Soup

February 24, 2012

One of my co-horts has been getting Matzo Ball Soup on our breaks each week during class, and I’ve been drooling beside her, unable to even try it because it is not vegetarian. A quick google search later and I had a recipe in hand and was off to buy some Matzo Ball mix.

It was super easy, although due to the mix needing to chill and the lengthier cooking times, it does take about an hour from start to finish. But considering both of my kids and Chad liked it, it was totally worth it. Anytime I am watching my kiddos consume vegies and I’m not having to bribe them into eating, I feel like a success!

This recipe was taken from www.thedailygreen.com:

SERVINGS 6-8 (I disagree…it barely served two kids and two adults. I would say 3-4.)

INGREDIENTS For the matzo balls:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (or vegetable oil)
2 tablespoons vegetable stock
1/2 cup unsalted matzo meal
1 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried dill (or 1 tablespoon fresh dill)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the broth:
6 cups vegetable stock
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 green onions, including green parts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
salt and pepper

PREPARATION 1. To make the matzo balls: stir together eggs, butter and vegetable stock in a small bowl. Add the matzo meal, parsley, dill and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 8 hours.

2. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat; add a dash of salt. Using wet hands, form the dough into 12 1-inch balls. Drop the balls, one at a time, into the boiling water. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Matzo balls should be plump, tender and cooked through.

3. While the matzo balls are simmering, make the soup. Sauté onion, celery, and carrots in a large pot or dutch oven with olive oil, until vegetables are slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in parsley and green onions and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf and taste. Adjust seasonings to suit taste.

To serve: spoon a cooked matzo ball into a bowl and ladle soup over them.

Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/recipes/vegetarian-matzo-ball-soup-44040908#ixzz1nJs2kRh1

And now I just want to show off my awesome salad making ability as well as my fabulous new salad bowl:

Mushroom Soup

January 30, 2012

So I am on a pretty strict food plan right now, so anything I can eat that tastes great and fits in this plan makes me VERY happy! This soup fits both of these criteria. I will say…if you like mushrooms, you’ll love it! If you don’t like mushrooms, stop reading now.

Mushroom Soup

2 pounds sliced mushrooms
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB Olive Oil
2 TB Flour
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup red wine

Heat oil and saute mushrooms, onion and garlic until onion softens. Mix in flour, then stir in red wine and slowly add vegetable broth. Heat to boil, cover then simmer for at least 20 minutes. In my opinion, 20 minutes is enough, but the longer the better for full flavor. I simmered mine for almost 2 hours and it was fabulous!

[Note added: So I made this again and simmered for a while and the mushrooms soaked up all the liquid! Make sure it is on very low heat if you choose to let it sit longer, but I’m beginning to think 30 minutes is the appropriate cook time!]


That seems to be the answer in our little world. I rarely go wrong with pasta, and with four kids, that is saying a lot. I have turned pasta meals into an art! We do pasta bars on a regular basis. The kids can choose their sauce and toppings, but we are still all eating the same meal (sort of). And since I regularly serve a child who loves their pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, Parmesan, pesto and olives, as well as a child who prefers plain pasta with butter and salt, being flexible and creative is a necessity.

The other night I made up a baked pasta and was happy with the results. 2 kids had seconds, 1 finished their first serving with no complaining, and 1 had some issues with the broccoli but was fine with the rest. Even the big boy was happy! Always a plus.

Remember, I made this for 6, so feel free to shrink it down!

2 16 oz packages of pasta (I used penne)
1 package of provolone chopped into pieces (I can’t find provolone unsliced, so I just bought it sliced and chopped it up. You could use shredded mozzarella or swiss, too.)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
bread crumbs
About 2 cups of small broccoli florets. I made them super small in hopes to make it more child friendly.

Cook pasta according to package. Meanwhile, make white sauce. Feel free to follow a recipe for this from any cookbook. I’ve made it so many times that I sorta do it by instinct now, so I know this might not be super easy to follow.

Melt 4 TB Butter in sauce pan over medium heat. Add 2-3 TB of Flour and stir to make a paste. Add 1 TB of minced garlic (you can use garlic salt too) then slowly begin adding milk. Start by adding about 1/2 cup and mix together with the paste. When it seems like most of the lumps are dissolved, begin adding more milk. Altogether, you should add about 2 cups of milk to the flour/butter mixture. Stir constantly while cooking over medium to high heat. It should begin to thicken after a few minutes. If it does not thicken, add more flour. Once it is to a point where it seems thick enough, remove it from the heat. Oh, and make sure you do all of this with a wooden spoon.

Pour sauce over cooked drained noodles and stir. Add cheddar cheese, provolone (reserve about 1/2 cup) and broccoli and mix together. Sprinkle in some salt, too. Pour half of noodles in the bottom of a baking dish. Layer with remainder of provolone. Top with remainder of noodles. Sprinkle bread crumbs across the top in a thin layer and dot with butter.

Bake at 350 until heated through, about 20 minutes or so.

Mediterranean Goodness!

January 6, 2012

I have always loved Mediterranean food. In fact, I once had a goal to learn to make dolmas. After some lengthy research I decided some things are meant to be store bought! I was very excited this year when I found out our Christmas Eve theme was Mediterranean! Perfect time to try out some new recipes.

After some digging around on the internet, I found a recipe for falafel that was highly rated and reviewed. It turned out to be just about perfect! I’ve made it twice now and it’s virtually fool-proof. I love falafel; it is one of the many items that make Mediterranean food so vegetarian friendly. This is from allrecipes.com and I highly recommend it:

Sean’s Falafel

1 (15 oz) can drained garbanzo beans
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 egg
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1 dash pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp baking powder
t TB olive oil
1 cup dry bread crumbs
oil for frying

in a large bowl mash the garbanzo beans until thick and pasty. I used a plastic potato masher. In a blender (I used a food processor) process onion, parsley and garlic until smooth. Add to garbanzo beans and mix.

In a small bowl, combine egg, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice and baking powder. Stir into garbanzo bean mixture along with olive oil. Slowly add the bread crumbs until mixture is not sticky but will hold together. Form into golf ball size balls then slightly flatten.
Heat 1 inch of oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry patties in hot oil until browned, flip then fry on other side.

This makes about 15 falafel balls.

Then, mix up some super easy Couscous:

2 cups cooked couscous
1 Chopped cucumber
1 Diced tomato
1 Chopped small red onion
Juice of a lemon
Dash of Olive Oil
Fresh mint leaves (1/4 cup or so)
Mix all ingredients together. Add more lemon juice if needed.

To turn this into a meal, serve with:

Pre-made dolmas. They sell excellent ones at my local Fred Meyer in the section with the stuffed olives. At Market of Choice, they are in the deli section. And I’ve seen them at Costco as well.
Pita and/or flatbread
Crumbled feta
Caramelized sweet onion
Roasted garlic cloves and mushrooms
Stuffed Green Olives
Shredded Lettuce
Salad Dressing (You can find some fun greek salad dressings, or balsamic vinegar works well, too.)

This is a very fun meal for a casual group get together! Throw everything on large platters and let people make their own meals!

without Chicken or noodles!

There’s nothing like a good cup of Chicken Noodle Soup, especially this time of year. Cold nights + warm soup = perfection!

Being a vegetarian does not mean giving up this cold fighter. In fact, when you try this soup, I bet you won’t even miss the chicken! This recipe is also super easy and doesn’t take many ingredients. You could do all store bought vegetable stock or mix it up like I do. Personally, I find this to be a bit cheaper and just as flavorful. However, I wouldn’t recommend skipping the store bought vegetable broth and making all of the broth yourself.

2 cups of chopped carrots
2 cups of chopped celery
32 oz of Vegetable Stock
32 oz of water
16 oz uncooked orzo
Vegetable Bouillon (You can get this in cubes, I but I prefer Better than Bouillon.)
2 tsp dried parsley, 1 tsp salt, dash or two of pepper
Olive oil

In large stock pot, heat oil and add carrots and celery. Cook on Medium High stirring constantly for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 6 cups of water to a boil, add orzo, and boil for 6 minutes. Drain.

Add parsley, salt and pepper to carrots and celery. Add vegetable broth. Follow bouillon directions to make 32 oz of vegetable stock and add to pot. (With Better than Bouillon, you add 1 tsp per 8 oz of boiling water.)

Bring to a boil. Add drained orzo. Reduce to medium low and cover. Let simmer until carrots and celery soften.

This makes pretty thick soup, which my kids tend to like more. You can substitute orzo with pasta. I’ve used elbow macaroni before, but I prefer orzo. Made this last night and it served 3 adults and 2 kids with some left over.

I like to serve with warm bread and salad. Enjoy!

I saw Giada De Laurentiis make this recipe and knew instantly that my kids would love it. I tweaked it a bit:

1 egg, fried
1 slice of rustic white bread
Marinara sauce, the thicker the better
Parmesan, shredded

Sprinkle the bread with the shredded parmesan and broil until beginning to brown and cheese is melted. Top the bread with warm marinara sauce. If you do this too early, you’ll end up with soggy bread, so try to time it so the egg and bread are done at the same time. Place egg on top of marinara, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and enjoy!

How easy is that?

I brought this dish to a friends house Memorial Day Weekend and watched as numerous children and adults polished off an entire bowl. I’m bringing it to another potluck tonight because it always seems to be a favorite, and it’s SUPER EASY! Can’t beat that!

1 can sweet corn, drained
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
About 1/2 cup chopped red onion, more or less depending on your preference
2 diced tomatoes, try to remove juice and seeds as much as possible
juice of one lime
drizzle of olive oil
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

Mix above ingredients and refrigerate for 2 hours or more prior to serving. I would not recommend refrigerating overnight.

Just before serving, dice two avocados and add, stirring to blend

Serve with tortilla chips! Enjoy!

(Variations: Substitute 1 chopped red pepper for tomatoes, use juice of lemon instead of lime, add feta cheese)

Caprese Pasta

October 6, 2010

I love the combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Throw it on bread, or just give me a fork, and I’m happy. Recently I discovered and AMAZING pasta at a local Italian restaurant, so I decided to try to make it at home. I’ll be honest, I’m missing something. The flavor of the original is sweeter and richer, I’m guessing that would be because they use cream, and I can’t bring myself to use cream when cooking. (Although I seem to have no issue eating it when I’m out!) But my version is still a satisfying second…

1 pound pasta (I use Penne)

1 sweet onion chopped

6 – 8 tomatoes chopped (I always pick tomatoes still on the vine, I think they are more flavorful)

milk, flour and butter

about 1 cup of  sliced whole mozzarella balls

Cook pasta in salted water, drain.

In large saucepan, cook onions on medium low in butter until softened and starting to carmelize. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes have softened and lost their original shape. Add 2 TB of flour and stir through, breaking up any chunks with a fork. Add 3/4 cup of milk. Stir until heated through and beginning to thicken. Add more milk to make more sauce, add more flour to thicken. When sauce is thick, add mozzarella and heat just til the cheese begins to soften. Remove from heat.

Pour sauce over individual bowls of pasta. I find it better with this recipe NOT to add the sauce to all of the pasta. I like the cheese with some form still, and stirring it into the pasta will melt it completely.

Add salt as needed. Serve with warm bread, of course, and enjoy!