Thursday, April 26, 2012


When I was a kid, my mom used to make this soup, Gazpacho, which is a cold tomato soup. While I'm sure she never used a blender to make hers, I find that this way is quick and cleanup is a breeze, and it makes for a nice, thick soup.  I'm not sure how my mom got me to love this, as my kids wouldn't be caught dead eating cold soup, especially not tomato soup. I'm still trying to convince them that tomatoes are really delicious. It's an ongoing battle.  Still, it makes a nice light lunch for the resident grown-ups.

Serves 2

4 tomatoes, quartered
half of an onion, quartered
1 bell pepper, quartered
1 cucumber, chopped
2 green onions, roughly chopped
 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse until roughly blended. Add water to adjust thickness level as desired. Serve immediately and garnish with avocado.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans with Lemon and Dill

Ah Pinterest. You're such an awesome source of inspiration and colossal time sucker.

 For the longest time I resisted Pinterest. Photo sharing? Lame. Boring. Big Deal.

Then somehow I got sucked in and lost many hours of time; sharing and hoarding photos of food, clothes, crafts and decor. Pinterest. How I love thee and the photabulous foodstuffs that can be found there, including this one.

This recipe is adapted from Real Simple magazine.


2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
about 6 Tbsp. olive oil, or enough to coat the potatoes
2 Tbsp. dill (fresh or dried)
a handful of fresh green beans
1 lemon, sliced very thin
salt and pepper to taste
Squeeze of fresh lemon

In a small bowl, whisk together the the dill, olive oil, salt and pepper. Let sit for about 10 minutes to combine flavors.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the olive oil mixture, lemon slices and potatoes in a large bowl.

Spread on a cookie sheet and bake, tossing half way through, for 30 minutes.

Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over the top just before serving.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sweet Potato Sushi

As my husband is usually the resident sushi maker, and we usually enjoy all kinds of creative sushi concontions with various ingredients. Sushi rice is so simple, it's really only a few ingredients and a couple extra steps.

  This is the first time I've made the rice myself! In my mission to create the kids their own ninja bento boxes:

(which is really just an egg wrapped in seaweed), I baked some sweet potato rounds to add to the boxes. Two cups of sushi rice usually makes a TON of sushi, so we had enough left over to share with the neighbors, and then it occured to me that the sweet potatoes would look excellent posing as "fish" on the sushi itself. Not only that, but I also soon realized that sweet potato and sushi rice are two flavors that were meant to be together.


2 cups short grain rice
3 cups water

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp. salt

Nori paper (dried seaweed) cut into thin strips
2 sweet potatoes, sliced into rounds
Sesame seeds, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potato slices on an oiled cookie sheet and brush with oil. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until just-crispy.

Meanwhile, combine rice and water. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and simmer until combined.

While the rice is still hot, spread into a large, deep glass rectangular pan. Fold in the vinegar mix until combined well. Let cool.

Cut the sweet potatoes into rectangles.

Using your hand, form the cooled rice into rectangles. Wrap a strip of nori around it and season with sesame seeds. Place the sweet potato rectangles on top of the sushi rice. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Vegan Chard Rolls

When I was in Chicago in February to co-teach a pelvic floor teacher training with my mentor Leslie Howard, I had the pleasure of going out to tapas with blogger and fellow teacher Brooks Hall and a few other pelvic floor compatriots. My foodie experience of Chicago was amazing. Everything I ate there was simply delicious. Mmm...Chicago....what was I saying?

Oh yes. So while there I had the pleasure of sampling these little beauties and finally, yesterday, I made them. They almost remind me of a dolma, but are closer in nature to a cabbage roll. A little time consuming, but well worth the effort, as I watched my kids down a couple rolls each with nod of approval, and marveled that I actually get my family to eat this stuff. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining!

10 large Chard leaves, stems cut off
1 pot of boiling water
1 cup Jasmine rice
1 cup water
1 can stewed tomatoes
4 tbsp chopped, roasted red peppers (I have a jar of these on hand at all times)
salt and pepper

First, combine your rice, 1 cup of water, tomatoes, peppers and salt and pepper to taste, in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let sit another 10 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Remove cover and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, blanch your chard leaves, one at a time, in boiling water for about 30 seconds each. Remove with tongs and let cool on a rack.

On a cutting board, slice out the thick part of the main vein in the leaf, nearly to the top,  like this:

Then overlap the edges of the leaf. With your hands, shape the cooled rice into a small rectangle and place on the chard leaf.  I found it helped to put it nearer the base.

Fold the base over the top of the rice, tucking in the sides as you go, and roll, burrito-style, all the way to the top. Place on plate seam-side down. Serve at room temperature (whick is what I did) or you can steam them, or cook in a dish with more tomato sauce.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vegan Rosemary Walnut Bread

Sundays are a special day for me, a ritual of renewal, if you will. It's the one day I clean the house, I mean really, really clean it. It's also the day I make the week's bread. I fell out of this last part of the ritual after the birth of my third son, but now that he's almost 3 years old, I find myself carving out time to bring this particular habit back into my life and into our mouths.

Homemade bread has a reputation for being tedious, or complicated...when in reality it is very simple. A few ingredients. An hour of resting. Cook.  That's it. No mystery ingredients, no preservatives.

This is my favorite recipe and I always delight in the praise that pours from my family when offered a fresh loaf.


1 cup warm (not hot) water
1.5 tsp yeast (or one packet)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh rosemary (or 2 tbsp dried)
3 cups unbleached flour
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 tbsp olive oil

Mix the yeast, water and sugar in a bowl and "proof" for 10 minutes. It should be foamy and pungent. If not, your yeast is old.

Add flour, salt, oil, herbs and mix until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is too crumbly, add in another 1/4 cup of water, slowly, until it forms a sticky ball. Knead in the walnuts.

Knead by hand  (or with a Kitchenaid mixer, using the dough hook, my preferred method) about 10 minutes.

Place in a large bowl that has been thinly coated with oil, and turn the dough so that the oil covers the outside of the dough. Cover with a thin cloth and place in a warm place. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

After an hour, punch down the dough, place in greased pie pan and let rise another 1 hour.

Cook at 375 for 40 minutes. The top should be browned and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped. Cool at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Crunchy Chickpea Snacks

I came across a recipe for these years ago, made them, loved them, then promptly forgot about them. But today, while purusing the cupboards for something snacky and coming up short, I somehow remembered how good these were.

Crunchy little bite sized snacks that are so versatile and absolutely delicious. My kids quickly relieved us of any leftovers.


2 cans chickpeas, drained well
olive oil
2 tbsp. multi-seasoning mix (like Mrs. Dash)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp chili powder

In a bowl, combine the chickpeas and seasonings. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat and toss well. Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet so that it sits in a single layer.  Bake at 400 degrees, turning occassionally, until crispy (about 45 minutes).

Other ideas I have but haven't yet tried:

BBQ: brown sugar, olive oil, mesquite seasoning
Spicy: red pepper flakes, oil, chili powder, cumin
honey mustard: oil, honey, mustard
Pizza: tomato sauce, oil, italian seasoning, parmesan cheese

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Smokey Lentil Soup

Lentil soup is a staple in my kitchen. I love that you can buy the dried beans that keep indefinately and that the ingredients are usually what I have on hand. In fact, it's so basic, that it's different almost every time I make it, depending on what is available. Sometimes it has carrots and potatoes, sometimes it has celery, and the herbs are always different; so whereas I usually use parsley, this time I used cilantro. Sometimes I put lemon in it, other times I use vinegar, and then I get the hankering to add liquid smoke. Keep it simple, put in what you have, it will be good either way.

Lentil soup was not something I grew up on. It wasn't until about the time my husband was in paramedic school and we had two very small children that it first made an appearance. Of course, at that time it was probably in the canned form, straight from the grocery store. How far my culinary skills have come since then, based partly that during that time we had to figure out how to eat healthy and on a very small budget.

So first went sodas, then boxed foods and then canned foods, again, partly because of money, or lack thereof.  but mostly because I was starting my own whole-food revolution.  I am amazed at the transformation that was made at that time and have been proud to see my children grow up to love things like lentil soup.


1 lb. of dried lentils
1 box vegetable broth
4 cups water
4 carrots, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry powder
salt to taste.

Saute the onions and carrots in a bit of olive oil until the onions are starting to turn brown and crispy around the edges. Then add in the spices and stir until fragrant, about a minute.

Add in the broth, water, lentils, liquid smoke and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 20-30 minutes. Salt to taste.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

Yesterday I  spent half the day canning jams and salsas. Canning is always a fun, messy, time- consuming commitment and I think trying to work my way through four recipes was maybe, in retrospect, a bit ambitious. After mixing up batches of jalapeno salsa, jalepeno jelly and carrot-orange marmalade, I simply ran out of time and energy to make the last salsa, and fell into bed at 10 pm with bits of sticky marmalade still stuck in my hair.

This morning, bright and refreshed, I took to tackling the Roasted Red Pepper Salsa. Let me tell you, I'm glad I waited, not just for the amount of time involved, but so that I could be awake enough to appreciate exactly how brilliantly colored and tasty this salsa really is.

I've included the directions for canning, but you can always just stick it in the fridge when done instead. This recipe is adapted from the Ball Guide to Home Preserving.

If canning: prepare lids and jars as directed. You'll need about 9 half-pint jars.

2 dozen dried red peppers of your choice (I used guajillo chilis)
3 pounds of Roma tomatoes
2 large green bell peppers
2 small onions, peeled
8 cloves of garlic, whole and unpeeled
2 tsp each sugar and salt
1 cup cider vinegar

Remove and discard the stems from the red chilies and submerge the chilis in a large bowl of hot water. Place another bowl on top to keep the chilis under the water.

Meanwhile, place your whole tomatoes, green bell peppers, onions and garlic cloves on a cookie sheet and broil, turning occasionally until the skins are charred.  Set aside and let cool enough to handle.

Then, go back to your soaking red chilies, which have been soaking for about 30 minutes, and puree them, with the liquid they are sitting in, until smooth. Set aside.

When cooled, peel and discard the skins from the tomatoes, bells and garlic. Place them with the onion in a blender and blend. You can either keep the texture chunky or smooth, your choice.

Combine the red pepper sauce with the roasted veggie sauce in a large saucepan and stir in the salt, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, simmer for 15 minutes.

At this point you can either put it in the fridge, or continue to the canning process.

If canning: fill your prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, wipe rims and process for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sweet Purple Slaw

Some years ago we were living in a small town in central California. My husband had gotten his first job as a firefighter there and I had just begun teaching yoga to a very rural, very conservative population. I was, in fact, the first yoga teacher to ever teach there.

It was challenging in so many ways,  but also a time when my eldest kids started school, the first time we really felt like grown ups and truly a time of fun and growth.

At some point during a hot,hot summer there (so very different than Monterey, where we now live, perpetually blanketed by fog) I pulled out a purple cabbage and mixed it with sweet, instead of savory fixin's.  It's been a popular family favorite ever since.


1 small head of purple cabbage, shredded or chopped
1 large container of vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup chopped dried apples (or any other dried fruit)
1/2 cup dried coconut
honey, to taste

Mix it all up in a bowl and serve immediately.