Saturday, June 30, 2012

Spinach Patties

I've been using our new chalkboard table to begin teaching my children about yoga philosophy. Each day I use one simple lesson. I figure the 8 limbs of yoga is an age-appropriate place to start.

Today's lesson on Satya seemed well-timed, as Cole came home from camp with complaints from his counselors of not following directions. We talked about how being thoughtful of others might come to play in his behavior at school and how he could be more respectful.

You may have noticed that I don't have many, if any, homemade burger recipes here. True, I have made a few batches over the years, but I haven't really found the perfect burger recipe. So many times they are too dry and crumbly, or they stick and fall apart when cooking, or they stay too mushy on the inside. Until today.

The secret ingredient? Masa flour. Masa is the cornmeal flour used to make tamales and unlike flour, it expands when cooked and stays dense. The result is a burger that is hearty and dense, not crumbly and not soggy. I may just use masa in all my burgers from here on out!

This recipe was adapted from

1 large bag of fresh spinach, chopped (about 6 cups)
2 eggs
1/2 cup masa flour
1 tsp each salt and pepper
1 jalapeno, minced
1 green onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 of a diced onion
1 cup of shredded cheese

Bring to boil a large pot of clear water. Pour the fresh spinach into the pot and cook for one minute. Then drain in a large strainer and rinse with cold water. When cool enough to touch, press and squeeze as much water out of the spinach as you can. Transfer the spinach to a large bowl.

Add to the spinach the rest of the ingredients, mixing well with a spoon, and/or your hands. Form into four patties and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. (I like using a seasoned cast iron skillet, as it uses less oil than our stainless steel skillet).

Serve with your favorite sauce and burger fixings. We used a vegetarian Caesar dressing that paired nicely. The next day we had the leftovers with mayo, a stoneground mustard, shredded cabbage and pepperoncinis. Even better.

Finally, I leave you with a happy picture of Kelly, a big smile and an even bigger ear of corn.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dal, a Kitchen Rehab and Table Art.

Our poor kitchen table has seen many moves, children's art projects and fork gouging over the years. Armed with a brush and some paint, we rehabbed that tired old bitty into something really wonderful.

First we sanded down the old veneer lightly with sandpaper (a tedious process) and then painted on several coats of a shiny, happy turquoise. The top we painted with chalkboard paint. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this, envisioning holiday murals, shopping lists, love notes, homework calculations and such that can be written right on the table day after day. Not to mention impromptu
art sessions.

Because the paint had to cure for 3 days before we could write on it, we didn't even tell the kids about the hidden new feature of our new table. Instead, we craftily waited until the kids were in bed and drew a late night mural for the next morning's surprise.

It's such a treat, let me tell you, and we've created and erased many works of art today. Here is one my husband drew, in honor of Obamacare being upheld.

And for dinner, what better than a healthy, nourishing and savory helping of Dal? Dal is an Indian dish that comes in many varieties. Some are spicy and others are savory. We used the leftovers to make lentil wraps with tahini sauce the next day.

1 onion, diced
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 clove
1/4 tsp each cinnamon and allspice
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups of veggie broth
1 cup of lentils
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
cilantro, for garnish

Saute the onion in a bit of oil until soft and just beginning to char. With a mortar and pestle, or in your food processor, grind the mustard, coriander, cumin, clove, cinnamon, allspice and red pepper. Add to your onions the spice mix and garlic, cooking 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. 

Next pour in your broth, lentils and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Serve over rice.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cabbage and Cucumber Salad with Tahini Sauce

In the early morning hours, when I'm stealthily getting ready for class while the rest of my family is still sleeping, I enjoy the quietness of the house. In a large family, someone is always talking or needing attention, and these small moments of being alone are like a sanctuary for me.

I just started reading Planet Walker, a book about a man who didn't speak or ride in cars, in an effort to bring around awareness of environmental issues, for the better part of 2 decades. He stopped talking, he recalls later, because he needed to do more listening.

It's funny how much we, as a species, communicate verbally without being clear and without really listening to each other. This is what I'm thinking about today as I head out to teach my morning class.

On another note, this recipe is from last night's dinner. Crispy and fresh, with the sweetness of the cabbage and the tanginess of the tahini, perfect for summer. I have been using this tahini sauce a lot lately, and you're going to see it used in a few more recipes over the next week or so. So make a big batch and stick it in the fridge, it pairs well with sandwiches, salads and beans.

1/2 of a head of green cabbage, chopped
2 cucumbers, sliced
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
dried dill, for garnish

Tahini Sauce:
equal parts tahini and water
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Combine the tahini, water, lemon, salt, pepper and garlic in a bowl and whisk together. Adjust water as necessary.

Layer the cabbage and the cucumbers and top with cherry tomatoes. Drizzle the tahini sauce on top and sprinkle with dried dill.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Balsamic Green Bean and Potato Salad

With the fourth of July speedily approaching, millions of Americans will be dishing up the old traditions of BBQ, hot dogs, hamburgers and potato salad. My family hasn't celebrated the fourth of july very regularly, as my husband is a firefighter and usually ends up working that particular holiday. With no real celebrations or festivals nearby, we kind of just opt out.  Still, traditional american fare can be nostalgic for some of us around this time of year.

I love potato salad, I really do. But it's sooooo bad for you. So hold the mayo, please, because we have other options afterall. It was a tough call to opt for balsamic vinegar. I wasn't sure if it would be overpowering and kept alternating between apple cider or balsamic. But in the end, this won out, mixed with a little dill and stone ground mustard. The egg gives it a creamy consistency, guaranteeing you won't miss the mayo.


2 pounds of new potatoes (I used a medley of red, white and purple)
1 pound of green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 green onions, chopped thinly
2 cold hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 tbsp dried dill
4 tbsp each balsamic vinegar and olive oil
2 tbsp stone ground mustard
a large bowl of ice water

Quarter the potatoes and boil in a large pot of water until just-soft, about 20 minutes. Reserve the pot of water (to blanch the green beans) and plunge the potatoes into the ice bath.

Meanwhile, blanch the green beans for 1 minute in the boiling water. Scoop out and drain the potatoes from the ice bath (reserving ice bath for green beans).

Drain the green beans and plunge them into the ice bath. Let sit a few minutes then drain.

Combine the vinegar, oil, dill and mustard in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the potatoes, green beans, green onion, vinegar sauce and chopped egg. Using a rubber spatula, gently toss to coat. You can serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to serve.

Yogi's Delight

Stir fry is a staple in most vegetarian households, as it basically takes the everything but the kitchen sink and makes it into one delicious meal. So while the vegetables listed here are the ones I used, absolutely feel free to mix it up and use what you have on hand. For best results, use fresh produce, instead of frozen.

1 package extra firm tofu, diced
3 Tbsp each soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and rice wine vinegar, combined
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 head of broccoli, chopped
2 carrots, cut into small, 1 inch sticks
1/2 cup of vegetable broth
1 cup of sugar snap peas
1 cup of chopped bok choy
1 bunch of green onions, chopped

Marinate the tofu cubes in the soy sauce mixture for at least an hour.

Heat some oil in a wok. Drain the tofu, reserving the sauce,  and fry the tofu until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add in the broccoli, carrots, reserved tofu marinade and veggie broth and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add in the snap peas, bok choy and green onions. Cook until heated through. Serve over rice.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sweet Potato Coconut Curry and Homemade Chapati

I love curry. Red, yellow, green, Thai, Indian, it doesn't really matter. All of those spices leave my tongue tickling and my belly happy.  It was this meal that had Cole (my pickiest eater) proclaim his love of sweet potatoes. We had it with homemade Chapati, an Indian yeast-free flat bread (recipe below) and a mango chutney.

Curry Ingredients:

2 diced onions
1 inch of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. of coriander seed, crushed
1 tsp  red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 can coconut milk
1 cup of water
2 medium sweet potoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup fresh peas
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cinnamon stick
juice of one lime

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of cooking oil over medium heat. Add in the onion and saute until tender. Add in the ginger, garlic, coriander, red pepper, curry and cumin powder, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add 1 tsp salt, sweet potatoes, cinnamon stick, coconut water, regular water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Stir in lime juice and adjust salt and spices if necessary. Add in the fresh peas and bell pepper and cook, uncovered,  until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and remove from heat.

Serve over brown rice and garnish with cilantro.

Chapati Ingredients:

1 cup of flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup of hot water

Mix the flour, salt and olive oil in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Slowly add in the hot water until the dough forms into a soft, not sticky, ball.

Divide the dough into 5 balls and let them rest for 10 minutes.

Flatten each ball and roll them out on a floured surface into very thin, 6-8 inch diameter pancakes.

Heat an oiled cast iron skillet to be HOT on the stove.

Cook each chapati, one at a time, in the hot skillet, for about 30 seconds. When the bubbles start to form on the top, it is time to flip. Cook 30 seconds on the side. Repeat for each bread.

Eggs in Bell Pepper Baskets

I saw this idea floating around the internet and couldn't help myself, I had to try it. It's very simple, fresh and light, and so pretty! It reminds me of a dish I make for the kiddos, called "Eggies in the Middle,"  which is a kind of quicker version of French toast.

To make eggies in the middle, you start with a slice of whole grain bread and a mason lid. Push the mason lid into the center of the bread to cut out a circle.

In a frying pan, heat some oil over medium heat and place the bread in the pan. Quickly break an egg into the cutout you created in the bread.

Cover and cook 1-2 minutes, or until the whites are set enough on the bottom to flip, carefully.
Cover and cook until the egg is cooked through. You can serve with syrup if you like it sweet.

To make Eggs in Bell Pepper Baskets, you basically do the same thing, only using a bell pepper ring instead of bread.

1 bell pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch rings
salt, pepper
greens to garnish

In a frying pan, heat some olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add in the bell pepper rings and cook until lightly browned on one side. Flip.

Into each ring break an egg. Don't worry if a little spills out of the sides you can trim it up later.Cover and cook until the egg is just set on top, about 4 minutes.
Remove with a spatula and garnish with greens, salt and pepper.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Spicy Green Torilla Soup

        We eat so much soup in this house that sometimes I think I need to rename this blog the "Yogic Soup Kitchen." In fact, I give so much food away to the neighbors, it would be a fitting name indeed!

This recipe reminds me of Pho, in the way that it is made, but with a distinct difference in flavor. It is very light in nature, but the jalapeno added at the end gives it a real kick.

1 head of garlic, seperated and crushed
1 box of veggie broth
2 cups water
1 carrot, halved and sliced thin
1 head of broccoli, chopped
2 stalks celery
4 corn tortillas, chopped and fried until crispy
1 tbsp soy sauce

To garnish:
avocado, diced
1 jalapeno, chopped thin

Combine the water, broth, soy sauce and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain and discard the garlic.

Add in the broccoli, celery and carrot, and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.

To serve, ladle into bowls and add in tortilla chips, avocado and cilantro. For those who like it spicy, add in 3-4 jalapeno disks per bowl.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lemon Basil Grilled Tofu Sliders

I'm grateful that my meat eating family humors my vegetarian meals. They eat 99% vegetarian at home, and usually without complaint. Though, truth be told, it can be tough sometimes, with picky eaters. Cole, my middle son, doesn't like condiments of any kind, while the rest of my family will try anything, it's not often that we get a unanimous vote of yumminess.

I recently tried to take a different look at the ol' veggie burger, using tofu instead. A first for me, it was decided that while the Mister and myself enjoyed these immensely, the kids did not. I'm not sure why, except maybe that they are used to having tofu fried or baked, instead of grilled. Still, this was very tasty and I would make it again, albeit maybe as a lunch for us grownups.


1 block extra firm tofu, sliced into 1/4 to 1/2  inch rectangles
juice of one or two lemons
3 tbsp mustard
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste

Hamburger buns or rolls and favorite burger fixings

Mix together the lemon juice, mustard, honey, garlic, oil, basil, salt and pepper. Brush both sides of the tofu slices and let sit for at least an hour.

Grill over medium heat until the tofu is heated through and has those fancy grill marks on each side. Fix burgers as you like, with mayo, pickles, tomato, lettuce.