Sunday, January 14, 2018

Thai Carrot/Sweet Potato Soup

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cups onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
3 tablespoons green curry paste
4 cups vegetable broth, plus more if needed (I probably used 5)
¼ cup peanut butter
4 cups peeled and diced carrots
3 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
Fresh Thai basil, minced, for garnish
½ cup slivered almonds
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive or sesame oil

1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add onion, garlic, and ginger, and sauté for approximately 5 minutes. 
2. Add other ingredients (except almonds) to pot. Stir until combined.
3. Bring soup to a boil  then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
4. Put soup in blender and process until a smooth puree. 
5. Pour soup back into a pot and season with salt and black pepper. Reheat if necessary.
6. For the almonds, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toss almonds with soy and olive oil until coated, spread onto baking pan, and roast approximately 10-15 minutes and set them aside to cool.
7. Serve up a bowl, adding a sprinkle of almonds and diced Thai basil and ENJOY!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Easy New Year's Collard & Black-eyed Pea Soup

Happy New Year, everyone!
It's been a minute since my last post to this blog. OK many minutes, over a year, actually. Much has happened in the world and in my personal life. A new year is here and I have plenty to be thankful for.
Back in September hurricane Irma paid us a visit, leaving us without electricity for 4 days. This was an absolutely minute inconvenience in comparison to the devastation it brought to other areas or what Maria, which followed closely behind was about to unleash in the Caribbean. That said, for a run-of-the-mill guy who has it fairly easy compared to many, 4 days without electricity felt like a big deal. My husband and I could not stand to look at another canned meal and with a tank full of propane at our disposal we broke down and fell off our vegetarian (almost-vegan) wagons. I wish I could say this was a once-only isolated incident but we quickly slid down a breaded, deep-fried, greasy, lardy slope of beastly indulgance. For about a two week period many of our meals consisted of Arby's, KFC, McDonald's, Wendy's and lesser known local fast food joints. Our binge was not a guilt-less one. I immediately regretted almost every single meal, mentally and physically.
The guilt helped push us back into a slightly healthier routine. We became weekday vegetarians and splurged on the weekend, sometimes eating nothing but two steaks each in place of a normal meal of a single serving with sides. Shameful, I KNOW!
I cooked many of the meat-centered dishes I grew up with for the holidays. The piece de resistance was a 21 pound pernil (traditional Puerto Rican roast pork). Our decision to return to a vegetarian diet was sealed after I watched a video online about the most adorable rescued pigs, bringing back all of the feelings which pushed me to make the choice 3 1/2 years ago. I want to do my part in reducing cruelty and environmental decline in this world and I have that option. Most of us do. I can't say that I will never again stumble but I know that as easily as I might, I can also get back on track. So as I greet the new year and embark on new projects and artistic adventures I resolve to jump back on my wagon and ride into the sunset with a clear mind and healthier, earth-friendlier lifestyle choice.
Now let's get to cookin'!

Easy Collard & Black-eyed Pea Soup
-5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
-1/2 onion (chopped)
-1 bunch (or bag) collard greens (NOT FROZEN)
-2 14.5 oz cans of black-eyed peas
-1 14.5 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
-5 cups vegetable stock (or water and vegetable bullions)
-vegetable oil to coat bottom of pot
-grated cheese of choice to taste

1.Wash collards thoroughly to remove grit. I washed them once with salt and vinegar then two more times, changing the water in the container each time. Cut into bite size before or after washing.
2.Coat bottom of the pot with oil and sautee garlic and onion until garlic is slightly brown (not too much).
3.Add collards and stir continuously for about 5 minutes.
4.Add rest of ingredients except the peas and cheese and cover. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes.
5.Add peas and continue cooking for another 20-30 minutes.
6.Sprinkle with grated cheese and chow down!


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Platanos en Escabeche/Pickled Green Plantains

This is an easy-peasy one. Super simple and super yums!

-4 green plantains
-oregano (I used Cuban from my garden but dried or fresh regular oregano works and cilantro also)
-1-2 bay leaves
-1/2 onion sliced thin
-green olives (salad or stuffed alcaparradas)
-black pepper or peppercorns
-garlic powder
-olive oil
-white vinegar

Notice I didn't specify many measurements. That is because I don't really measure when I make this. Playing it by taste is just fine. Traditionally many people will heat the seasonings before combining with plantains, but over the years I have found this to not be a necessity.

1. Cut off ends of plantains. Slice peel lengthwise and boil in salted water for about 20 minutes. When you can insert a fork in them easily they will be fully cooked and the skins will slide off easily.
2. Slice plantains into 1/4-1/2 inch thick discs.
3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss.
4. Cover and let sit at least 2 hours (overnight is best).
5. Eat at room temperature.

Makes a delicious side dish or easy lunch to bring to work.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Grilled Eggplant "Parm" Sandwiches

Love eggplant parm, but not all the prep and heaviness? Try this light and tasty summer alternative.


-1 medium eggplant
-sliced fresh tomatoes
-sliced mozzarella cheese (or vegan alternative)
-steak grilling seasoning
-Trader Joe's red pepper spread
-rolls of choice

1. Spray grill with non-stick olive oil spray and preheat.
2. Slice eggplant as you would for eggplant Parmesan.
3. Spread on cookie sheet and brush both sides with olive oil then season with oregano and steak seasoning. 
4. When almost ready, add cheese and melt.
5. Assemble sandwiches and devour. Nom nom!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Broccoli and Kale Quiche

Before you say anything,
YES, my quiche is SQUARE. But before you judge, quiche has no shape once it's in our bellies. The only round dish that would have been large enough for the amount of mix was in the dishwasher, and yes it was clean but that was about 5 feet farther than I was willing to walk at the moment. So here we have a deliciously square quiche.


-2 cups Soy or Almond milk
-5 eggs
-1 7.5 oz package of Bisquick Complete Cheesy Garlic biscuit mix (or your choice brand)
-1/4 cup butter or vegetable butter substitute softened
-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese or vegan substitute
-8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese or vegan substitute
-1 fresh decent sized broccoli crown, chopped
-2 cups chopped fresh kale

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a 10 inch quiche dish (I used a 2 qt. pyrex).
2. In a large bowl beat together the eggs, milk, butter, parmesan cheese and baking mix. 
3. Add the kale and broccoli and stir well. Pour into the baking dish.
4. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Eggs should be set and top golden brown. 
5. Eat, set some aside and eat later.  Then eat some more. 


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Almost Vegan Empanadas de "Carne"

I have such sweet memories of Mami Luisa (a friend of my mother's who for all intents and purposes is my grandmother) making empanadas and pastelillos (a smaller version of empanadas). Wasn't it just yesterday that I sat on a stool at her kitchen breakfast counter, chubby legs dangling back and forth as I watched and munched on the ingredients as she assembled a family's worth to have already at the table before her husband Ruben arrived from work? It sure feels that way.


-1 pack of 10 Goya Empanada "Discos", thawed
-1 10oz bag Morning Star Farms Grillers Crumbles (or brand of choice)
-1/2 medium onion, chopped
-2 cloves chopped garlic
-1 packet Sason Accent or Goya, with culantro and annatto
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp oregano
-1 8oz can tomato sauce
-1 15oz can chick peas/garbanzos
-approximately 10 manzanilla olives, sliced (or salad olives)
-1/4 cup IBERIA or Goya recaito
-Light Adobo, to taste
-Cheese of choice (I used Colby Jack), or none, if you are vegan

1. Sautee onion and reacaito in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil or coat pan with spray on med/hi until onions are transluscent. then add the garlic and stir for about another 1-2 minutes.
2. Add the crumbles, chickpeas and olives. Add seasonings while stirring. Sauté for about 3 minutes and add the tomato sauce. Lower heat to med/low and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly. 
3. Set aside to cool down a bit. 

Now comes the assembly. 
Use a rolling pin to expand the discs a bit. The directions did not call for using flour, but I found it helpful to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. I then turned the disc over, so that the floured side would fry on the outside of the empanada and not become part of the filling. 
I used cheese slices, 1/2 per empanada, and 2 spoonfuls of filling.
-Add filling to the center of the disc and fold over to make a half circle.
-Use a fork to press/seal the edges.
Before frying, I preheated the oven to 200 degrees to keep the empanadas warm while I cooked. 
I layered them on paper towels to absorb excess grease.
Fry until golden brown, following package directions. Mine only needed about a minute and a half on each side.

Que rico!
Buen provecho.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Veggie Garden Time!

Truth be told, I actually have already grown a few veggies since our move to St. Petersburg, Florida last November. A few months ago I decided to grow some kale, lettuce and broccoli in a small bed at the front of our house. The results were mixed, kale being the clear winner. While I am super-excited about a longer growing season(s), it is still very new to me. I am navigating my way through it by trial and error.

I should have plenty of sunshine in my backyard and have already built a raised bed. I began growing my seedlings in our sunroom. Not all sprouted (yet, anyway) but most have.
This round of veggies will include:
-cherry tomatoes
-beefsteak tomatoes
-wax beans (not yet sprouted)

A few of the seedlings should be ready to go outside very soon.