Archive for the 'vegetarian' Category

Banana Avocado Baby Puree

The Dos Equis Man is now officially scared of Maurice Gamanho

I don’t always make my own baby food, but when I do…my kid usually spits it out. (Sorry if you have no idea why that silver-haired stallion is pictured above. Try googling “Dos Equis The Most Interesting Man in the World”.)

It’s got to be a texture thing. I mean, freshly steamed peas just have to taste better than “canned” peas, right? But, no matter how long I leave my processor spinning, I just can not achieve that perfectly smooth texture you squeeze out of those nifty little baby food pouches.


This banana and avocado mash-up in an exception. Lennon will generally hang her mouth open and squeal for more. I love this because avocados and bananas are extremely nutritious and sometimes I have nothing planned for the random ripe avocado sitting on my counter and this is the perfect solution.


Banana Avocado Baby Puree

1 Ripe avocado, pitted
1 Ripe banana, peeled
juice from 1/2 small lemon (about 1 Tbsp)
2-3 Tbsp runny prepared baby cereal (about 1 dry scoop)

Scoop out avocado flesh into small mixing bowl. Add banana, lemon juice and cereal. With a potato masher or a fork, mash ingredients until smooth. At this stage there will still be random lumps. If your baby is used to eating lumpier foods, you can stop here. If your baby prefers smoother textures like mine, force mixture through a fine mesh sieve.

This will make approximately two 4 ounce servings. I’ve had luck keeping the second serving for the next day in a small 4 ounce airtight container. The lemon juice helps prevent oxidation though you won’t avoid it entirely. If it bothers you, just skim off the brown layer from the top before feeding the leftovers to your baby. I do not recommend heating this puree. Serve it room temperature or cold.


Creamy Avocado Pasta

This is a meal that I would be eager to serve to my family and Jeff’s family without telling them exactly what it is. See, I’d be dead certain they’d love it, but they would be dead set against trying it if they knew what was in it. Both of us come from families with less adventurous palates who would likely be repulsed by the pureeing of an avocado tossed with pasta. I used to be that way not too long ago. Let me tell you, life’s much better on the other side.

This dish is basically just pasta coated with smooth guacamole. It’s crazy healthy, tastes fantastic, and requires only the amount of time it takes to boil pasta.

I licked the bowl and you may just do it, too.

Creamy Avocado Pasta

As Seen On: Total Food Porn (my friend Corrina’s amusing blog. Check it out!)
Originally From: In Good Taste

1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, plus much more for garnish (optional for vegan)
1/4 cup fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 servings of your choice of pasta, about 1/3 lb. (I’ve used both whole wheat and regular, I prefer regular)

Cook spaghetti according to the directions on the package. Drain almost completely, but leave about 1/4 cup pasta water for the noodles to mingle in. Meanwhile, place the garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil into a food processor. and blend until smooth. Next, add the avocado, basil, salt and cheese process until the mixture has a smooth and creamy consistency. Toss pasta with sauce and garnish with extra basil and Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Crunchy Roasted Broccoli

Remember back in the 90’s when it was commonly known that President George H.W. Bush hated broccoli? Passionately hated broccoli. Probably had all florets banned from within the White House perimeter. Even as a child I remember thinking how weird that was. Our president, Leader of the Free World, wouldn’t eat a common vegetable and wasn’t ashamed of it. Maybe this is why he lost the election. His kryptonite was delicious, cancer-fighting green goodness, well that, and the guy who beat him could play the saxophone.

Maybe Mama Bush never prepared broccoli to be crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and covered in a cheesy crunchy crust. Surely that would have warmed little George’s feelings toward the vegetable. Luckily, broccoli is a welcome addition to any plate in our family. Steamed, roasted, sautéed, or raw, Jeff, Marlo and I all love our broccoli any way, but this might be our favorite recipe.

Crunchy Roasted Broccoli
Adapted from Good Housekeeping

1 lb. broccoli florets cut into 2 inch chunks
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs or Panko

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In large bowl combine broccoli, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to evenly coat.

Stir together cheese, bread crumbs and 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small bowl.

Spread broccoli on baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes, tossing once half-way though. Remove pan from oven, spread cheese and bread crumb mixture evenly over the top of the broccoli. Return broccoli to oven and roast for 5 more minutes.



Caramelized Onion Pizza

This is snobby pizza, but don’t get me wrong here – I am not a pizza snob. Sure, I’ve lived in Chicago and had some of the absolute best pizza in the country, but I’ll still gladly polish off a pie from Pizza Hut. I freaking love pizza.

Something I’m not that crazy about – pizza sauce. I hate hot red sauce oozing out from the skin of cheese on my pizza. Ever since I was a kid I preferred pretty much no red sauce on my pizza. Then, one day when I grew up and left the cornfields, I realized there is a whole style of pizza that purposefully has no sauce. My life got a lot better that day, a whole lot better.

This is one of those pizzas. Some places call them “White Pizzas”, and I’ve also seen them called “Olive Oil Pizzas”, whatever you please, there is no red sauce. It would probably be opposite day if you ever saw a recipe on this blog for a pizza with red sauce.

This pizza is light, because there’s no meat (duh), but actually pretty rich and definitely sophisticated. Eat it!

Caramelized Onion Pizza

2 medium/large onions (I recommend sweet or red), sliced thin
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
splash of white wine

Pizza Dough (whatever you like – store bought, Boboli, homemade. I use Trader Joe’s 99 cent pizza dough.)
2-3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella*
1 cup shredded fontina*
1/3 cup shredded asiago*
*OR you can just use the best bagged pizza cheese ever from Trader Joes – a mix of fontina, mozzarella, provolone and asiago
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed from stems, stems discarded and leaves roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves chopped

Preheat your oven according to your dough’s specifications. This is generally around 400 degrees.

1. To caramelize the onions, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat in large pan. Add onions and season with a few pinches of salt and the dried thyme. Cover and revisit often to stir and ensure that the onions are browning not burning. You may need to lower the heat and that’s okay. Onions should reduce in volume by half, become thick and syrupy like marmalade, and be a rich dark brown color. This can take about 30 minutes.
2. Once the onions are perfectly caramelized, add a nice glug of white wine to the pan and scrape up any browned bits. Simmer the wine for a few minutes until it’s reduced to a syrupy consistency. This step may be completely unnecessary and optional. I just like doing it because it cleans my pan.
3. Roll out pizza dough on sheet of parchment paper and brush all over with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.
4. Sprinkle cheese over dough leaving about a 1/2 inch of dough on the outside edge for a crust.
5. Using 2 forks, spread caramelized onions evenly over the cheese covered dough.
6. Evenly sprinkle rosemary and garlic over onions.
7 . Bake pizza on parchment paper, directly on the rack according to the crust directions. Anywhere from 10-16 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

Lemon Garlic Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Zucchini


I generally like being told what to do.

I may sneer at you after you boss me around, but secretly, I’m relieved. Why? Because I am, for lack of a better and more pc word, a pussy. I may know the best way to tackle something. It probably is even better than your way. But, I don’t have the confidence to go it alone, unless we’re playing Euchre.  So give me your plans, your ideas, your set of directions and even if I think they’re terrible, I follow through with what you say anyway. What a terrible quality to have, huh?

What’s so ridiculous about all of this, is when I do actually step out on a limb and skip what you say and do what I say instead, I usually have had pretty redeeming results. Particularly with recipes. Especially with this one.

I tried finding a recipe a few days ago for a pasta with tomatoes and zucchini. And out of everything I found, I was either several ingredients short, or it sounded boring. So I decided, what the hell, I’ll just use what I’ve got and make something up.

This was perfect and exactly what I wanted. A lot of flavor with a little bit of heat. The name is just too long.

Lemon Garlic Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Zucchini

12 oz. Penne pasta
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, sliced thin
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 small zucchini, cut in half and sliced into thin half moons
1 pint grape tomatoes, rinsed
1/2 tsp. dried Herbes de Provence
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup of shredded Asiago cheese, plus more for sprinkling at table
salt and pepper to season

1. Set large pot of water over high heat to boil. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and return pasta to pot.
2. In large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
3. Add onions. Season with salt and saute until softened.
4. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Stir zucchini into pan and season well with salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes until they begin to soften.
6. Add tomatoes and Herbes de Provence to pan and stir. Heat until tomatoes begin to pucker, about 5-10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add contents to pot with pasta.
7. Add lemon zest and juice to the pot and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Toss well.
8. Transfer to large serving bowl or platter. Top with Asiago cheese.

Broccoli Pesto Pasta


Marlo loves this.

No, I’m not kidding.

Let me be clear. The noodles are covered in green stuff and she can’t get it in her mouth fast enough.

When it’s all gone she asks for more while still chewing her last bite.

It’s good, good for you and unbelievably simple.

But then again you expect that here, right?

Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Adapted from Good Housekeeping Family Vegetarian Cooking

12 oz. (just shy of the full pound box) spaghetti
16 oz. bag frozen broccoli florets
2 big garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
coarsely ground black pepper

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, prepare broccoli according to package directions. I opt to microwave. Works great every time.
3. In food processor fitted with blade attachment, puree cooked broccoli, garlic, broth, cheese, olive oil and salt.
4. Mix pasta with broccoli pesto. This takes some time to get it evenly distributed.
5. Serve immediately with a generous grind of black pepper. Don’t skip the pepper.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Last Friday night, I cooked up this delicious pot of veggie chili, and here it’s Tuesday and Jeff’s already requested an encore even after he ate the leftovers all weekend.

It’s that good folks. Let me say it again, this chili has no trace of flesh and it is absolutely to die for.

You won’t miss the meat, okay? I promise.

Aside from the flavor and the nose dripping spiciness, what’s so awesome about this recipe is that almost all the ingredients are incredibly common and cheap, and it is so gosh darn healthy. The only exception to the common ingredients is the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. But, I live in bland Indiana and I found them in the international food aisle at Meijer for a buck. So I’m sure that’s a good sign for most of you out there. Also, since this is a Whole Foods recipe,  they probably sell the ingredient as well.

Even if you aren’t a veg, I’ll bet all the frozen chicken in my mother-in-law’s freezer this will make it into your regular meal rotation.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili
Adapted from Whole Foods

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped chipotles in adobo (I used 3 chilies from the can)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned. Add chipotles, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt. Stir to blend. Add tomatoes and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil then gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Add beans and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Garnish individual bowls with green onions or sour cream, if desired.


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