Category Archives: Vegetarian

A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools. ~Spanish Proverb

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Or even better…”Your stomach shouldn’t be a wastebasket.” -Dori Friedberg

Whether it’s an ancient Spanish Proverb, or a modern day nutritionist, we all know we need to take care of our bodies.  Some more than others.  I’ve always felt I was on the above average side in eating a healthy diet.  (Not counting during college and the years immediately following when I lived on popcorn and ICEE’s from the gas station).  But I don’t eat meat, only fish, lots of vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, very little dairy, NO cheese, and MODERATION is my key.  Any time I tell myself I can NOT eat something I love, like fried foods or chocolate chip cookies, I become COMPLETELY OBSESSED with them, and end up binging.  So the thing that works for me is move more, eat less.  I don’t deny myself anything, I just don’t eat much of the things I know aren’t the best for me. 

Now, according to more and more people, my diet is killing me.  They start talking about leptin and metabolic syndrome and my head starts spinning.  I have spent a lot of time online and talking to my very smart friends who are eating this way.  I would have no problem giving up dairy.  I pretty much already have, but even if I could give up whole grain bread, I still can’t wrap my head around the no farro, brown rice, quinoa, and even legumes.  NO BLACK BEANS?  NO CHICKPEAS?  NO GREEN PEAS?  But the scientific community has, for the most part, stayed on the fence.   For now, I’m going to keep reading everything I can about the science behind the whole Paleo/ancestral diet thing, continue listening to my very smart friends, but continue eating whole grains and legumes in moderation.

But when I get invited to my very smart Paleo-eating friend’s house for dinner and am asked to bring an appetizer and a salad, I have to get more creative.  Those who have been eating this way for a long time have no problem coming up with ideas, but other than meat and vegetables, I wasn’t sure what to take.  My dear husband can’t live without chips and hummus, but since those were out of the question, I made a yummy Cauliflower Hummus (completely paleo…no legumes at all), and for me I made my favorite Broccoli Hummus.  That does include some chickpeas, but not many, and it was a huge hit, even with my friends.  I tinkered around with a couple of old recipes and they were so successful I wanted to write them down so I wouldn’t forget.  The problem is, I was so busy playing around and taste-testing that I forgot to take photos.  The only photo I have is the bowl of leftovers…(regular hummus for J, and broccoli hummus).  You can see which was more popular!

There was basically none of the Cauliflower Puree left, other than a few bites that I ate by the spoonful the next day.

So here are the recipes.  I served with a ton of crudite’, and a few gluten-free crackers for J and I.  Easy peasy.


Yield:  1-2 cups, depending on the size of your cauliflower head 

*Click HERE for printable recipe

1 Large head of cauliflower (preferably yellow, as the parsley will give it a lovely green color)
2-6 cloves of garlic (my garlic was quite strong so I only used 2)
2 TBSP Almond Butter
2 TBSP lemon juice
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped (I don’t recommend using dried parsley, as the color change and taste from the fresh is so beautiful)
1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
Salt, to taste
Garnish with parsley, smoked paprika and olive oil

Separate the cauliflower into florets, cutting away the center core.  Steam or microwave until very tender.  While that is cooling, mince the garlic in a food processor.  Add the olive oil, nut butter, spices and lemon juice and puree well.  Add the cauliflower and puree until it is smooth.  Add more olive oil if needed to get the texture smooth.  Place in dish and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with more paprika and serve with veggies.


Broccoli Hummus

*Click HERE for printable recipe

Yield:  Two Cups

1 lb of broccoli crowns
2 garlic cloves
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed (or 1 cup cooked chickpeas)
2 tsp. ground cumin 
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt,  to taste
1-2 TBSP tahini (sesame paste), to taste

1.  Steam the broccoli for five minutes until tender, but still bright.  Refresh with cold water and drain on paper towels.  (Very IMPORTANT…don’t overcook or the color will be a muddy green).

2.  Turn on the food processor and drop in the garlic.  Scrape down and puree again.  Scrape down.

3.  Turn on the machine and slowly pour in the lemon juice and oil with the machine running.  Process until smooth.

4.  Add the tahini and salt to taste.  Blend well.

Serve with veggies, and/or pita. 

Helpful links about paleo, and a couple refuting it, so you can be as confused as I am!!

Whole Nine
Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter
Wheat Belly, by William Davis, MD
Built Lean, article by Charlie Seltzer, MD
Outlaw Fitness, by Josh Vales
Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber, from the NIH

Your stomach shouldn’t be a waste basket. ~Dori Friedberg – See more at:
Your stomach shouldn’t be a waste basket. ~Dori Friedberg – See more at:
Your stomach shouldn’t be a waste basket. ~Dori Friedberg – See more at:

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ― William Cullen Bryant

I seriously love autumn.  I love the crisp mornings, sunny days, and spectacular colors!  It’s been a wonderful summer, and I am feeling blessed.  Daylight savings time ended yesterday, so the days are getting shorter.  Now it’s time to start counting the reasons to be Thankful, because Thanksgiving will be here soon.  My mom has already started Christmas shopping, and time is going by so fast it’s hard to slow down and enjoy the moments.  But it has been a glorious time to be in the mountains. 

Saturday afternoon after a couple of quick rain showers

Yesterday was a great day.  We had NO plans, so stayed in all day.  J loves Sundays.  He sits down in front of the NFL RED ZONE at 1:00, before the first game starts, and basically stays there until he shuffles to bed and falls asleep watching the last game.  I get football by osmosis: based on what he yells, I pretty much figure out what happens.  But I can’t watch the Red Zone.  I call it football for A.D.D.  You start watching one game, and they suddenly switch to another one when you look down to check your email…I just can’t keep up. But it makes him very happy.  The leaves up here peaked about a week ago, and we’ve had a couple of rains this week so they are all coming down.  I love the way the roads look when the leaves have just fallen. 

I spent my day reading, catching up on TV shows on my ipad, and starting a new painting.  I hope I’ll be able to capture the glorious colors I saw last week.

 We celebrated my young girlfriend’s 50th last week in beautiful Callaway Gardens! 

Dressed all in pink for dinner…we don’t like to call attention to ourselves at all!
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It was a glorious crisp fall weekend, and we had so much fun relaxing, freezing our tuccas off while biking around the property, and seeing the beautiful gardens and butterflies.  We wanted to go dancing, but the metropolis of Pine Mountain, Georgia didn’t really offer anywhere to go, so we cranked up the music and danced in the parking lot!

 We never saw another guest anywhere around, since we were in between seasons, so we kind of had the place to ourselves.  And then we went inside, changed into our pjs, and continued the dance party.  Maybe since most of us are over 50 we should act more like our age, but what’s the fun in that?

Must have been a really heartfelt song!

The horticultural center with our awesome volunteer tour guide

 J and I FINALLY played golf.  It rained so much at the beginning of the summer (over 100″ before the end of July!), and J was still recovering from ACL surgery, that this was our first time of the year.  I wish I could say I played well, but I didn’t suck as much as I thought I would.  It was a beautiful day, and we had a blast.  Hoping to play a couple more times this week.

 We were invited to a friend’s sister’s house to watch the Trick-or-Treating in Brevard.  They actually close her street and it is absolutely crazy!  I miss those days. 

A live pony!!  How cool is that?

Speaking of Trick or Treating…no trick or treating in college, but parties every day of the week!  My little activist H went dressed as one of her heroines…Rachel Carsen.  (For those of you, like me, who don’t know who she was, click on her name for more info).

 She and her friend J also dressed up as Sam and Suzy from the movie “Moonrise Kingdom“.  She told me she bought the red dress and sewed the collar and cuffs on them herself.  Who knew she could sew?

So it’s goodbye to autumn, and hello winter!  Snowmass has had almost 60″ of snow since September!  It’s going to be an amazing season! 
**I went to a party this weekend and was asked to bring appetizers.  Since they eat no dairy, grain, sugar or legumes, I was lost for ideas.  I took an awesome Cauliflower puree that was delicious, and had no legumes whatsoever.  I also took my Broccoli Hummus, which does have garbanzo beans, but it is so amazing I keep eating the leftovers by the spoonful!  I’ll post the recipes tomorrow.

Summer, Friends, and Breakfast Pizza

I’m still here!!!  Whew.  The last 3-4 months have been a blur.  I won’t bore you with details, but in short, H is now a high school graduate!  The last few months of school for her were a combination of frantic studying, finding out which colleges she was accepted to, deciding where to go (which involved a few repeat trips on both sides of the country), planning an Operation Smile fundraising concert without much help, and graduation.  Combine all that with the inevitable “senior slide” and it made for a pretty tense situation in our household.   All I can say now is that I feel like I have my sweet daughter back.  When she took her last AP exam a week before school was out, it was like a fresh breeze was flowing through our house.  She exempted out of all her final exams so the stress of picking out a college and maintaining her grades was gone.  I can’t tell you the feeling of relief we all felt.

Graduation…the white gowns were lovely

  J has been dreaming and planning for the day after H’s graduation for the last four years!  I still can’t believe we’re actually living the dream.  We’re not quite ready for the whole shebang, which is making North Carolina our home base and downsizing in Nashville, but we’re able to spend a lot more time in NC.  We finally moved into our new house.  J likes to say it’s the home he’s going to die in, but hopefully not for a very long time!  H was in a little town about half an hour down the mountain where she was doing lifeguard training and orientation for being a camp counselor at Keystone Camp where she spent many summers as a little girl.  She had not seen the new house in quite a long time.  She called up one night because they had the night off and wondered if she could bring a few friends up for dinner.  Of course, I was thrilled.   I didn’t think I’d get to see her at all for a couple of weeks.   She used to love Lake Toxaway.  But in the last few years, being an only child in a retirement community with lots of old people and no teenagers is not fun.  She didn’t have a lot of expectations for the house because she didn’t think she’d have much use for it since she’s going off to college in California.  But when she came in with her friends, she was so excited, which in turn, made us ecstatic!  She even says that she would come here when she’s got a break from college!

Keystone Camp Counselors

After her orientation she had about three weeks to spend with us.  She had one friend from Nashville come up for a couple of weeks and it was so great to have that time with her, and see her relaxed and happy.  She had 9 Adventure Treks friends (the backpacking, climbing, camping trips she experienced the last two summers) come to the house for a long weekend “reunion”.  I was a little nervous about cooking for 5 boys, much less 10 kids, but it worked out great.  The kids were great, the food was consumed and they even cleaned up before they left.  Great memories!

Yes, I fed these guys for four days!
AT kids enjoying the Brown Trout, our favorite

 But by far the best part of my summer so far was a week of just the three of us.  H even wanted to spend time with us, which was a rarity a few months ago.  In less than two months she will leave the nest for a new college life in California, so I am treasuring these moments.  She never looked at a single college in the vicinity of Tennessee or North Carolina, so I am used to the idea of her leaving, but I think when we actually drive away after orientation I will be a basket case.  In the meantime, I am enjoying every moment I can get.

Hiking together…just like old times!

Rosie and Sugar love the lake!

Here’s a recipe for the breakfast pizza I made one morning.  It’s easy, pretty, and healthy, and I used to make it whenever Halle had friends over.  Her AT friends inhaled it before they made scrambled eggs and bacon (and cleaned up after themselves…a miracle!)


One roll of refrigerated pizza dough
Lowfat cream cheese
Lite Cool Whip
Assorted fruit (Berries, Bananas, Kiwi all work great, but use your imagination)
Cinnamon Sugar (I make my own so I can adjust the amounts of cinnamon and sugar)

Roll out the dough onto an ungreased nonstick baking pan.  Sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar.  Bake at recommended temperature until very lightly browned (don’t let it get too done or the pizza will be too tough and hard to cut).  Slide out of baking pan onto cutting board to cool.

  Mix about 1-1 1/2 cups of Cool Whip with a half cup of cream cheese until spreadable.  Spread onto cooled pizza crust to the edges.  Slice fruit as desired and layer over cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar.  I usually slice it into squares for serving.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Updated Veggie Meat Loaf…SOOOO Good!

Last year I posted a vegetarian meatloaf that I made for my vegetarian daughter that even my red-meat loving husband would eat.  Shortly afterwards, my husband and I gave up meat as well, so the vegetarian meatloaf has become a staple in our house.  Without the fat from ground beef, the soy crumbles just didn’t want to stick together.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was delicious.  I have tinkered with the recipe over the last few months to try to keep it from falling apart after slicing, and last night it came out PERFECTLY!  I’ve had several people ask for the recipe lately, so I’m posting the latest version.

Vegetarian Meat Loaf

*Click HERE for printable recipe

* 1/4 cup Bullseye Hickory Smoke Barbecue Sauce
* 3/4 cup Heinz Ketchup
* 1 (12 ounce) package vegetarian burger crumbles
* 1 red, yellow, or green bell pepper, chopped
* 1 minced red onion
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
* 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
* 1 egg, beaten (or 2 egg whites)
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1 teaspoon dried basil
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried parsley)
* salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 5×9 inch loaf pan.
2. Heat saute pan over medium low heat, add 1 TBSP of olive oil and saute the onion, peppers, and garlic (seasoned with salt and pepper) until soft and translucent. 
3.  In a bowl, mix together the barbecue sauce and the ketchup. Mix 3/4 of the mixture with the vegetarian burger crumbles, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and egg.  Add the onion mixture.  Season with thyme, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Transfer to the loaf pan (sprayed with olive oil), and press down to make it as compact as possible.

3. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven. Pour remaining barbecue sauce over the loaf, and continue baking 15 minutes, or until loaf is set and sauce is heated.

I buy these crumbles at Publix, in the produce section where the Tofu is…other stores carry different brands and they’re all pretty similar.

I also made Brussel Sprouts.  I think Brussel Sprouts are the new Sun-Dried Tomatoes.  They are EVERYWHERE!  Top Chef, Magazines, Restaurants…every menu I’ve looked at lately has them.  I think chefs have finally figured out how to cook them.  The boiling and steaming that we did 20 years ago just intensified the rubber shoe taste, so I was firmly in the ‘I DON’T LIKE BRUSSEL SPROUTS’ camp.  But a couple of years ago I tried some at ChaCha’s restaurant here in Nashville, and my eyes were opened to the yumminess that comes from letting them caramelize, and sweeten, thus eliminating the bitterness of the past.

My problem in cooking them is since we are meat-free in our house now, I had to find a way to cook them without the bacon drippings that made them so good.  I’ve tried roasting them a couple of times, but didn’t use enough oil (my go-to spray on Pam wasn’t sufficient), so they just dried up and didn’t taste like anything.  Last night I didn’t spray the oil on, I tossed them with 2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil.  (I had a pretty big bunch of sprouts…it doesn’t take a whole lot of oil, just enough to lightly coat them).  While they were roasting at 350 degrees (cut side up for 20 minutes, then cut side down for the rest of the time), I sauteed a large red onion with garlic, pine nuts and rosemary, then tossed them together and voila…they were amazing!  Almost as good as the huge bowl I ate at ABC Kitchen in NYC this week!  My husband and daughter, who have not jumped on the brussel sprouts bandwagon with me, even ate a couple, which was a success in my book.  They didn’t eat a lot, but that just meant…more for me!

I use small brussel sprouts, pull off the outer edges, trim the stem a little and cut in half.

Baked Kale Chips!

My grandmother lost her eyesight early in life due to a combination of Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma. My mom has had Glaucoma for several years, and was just diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. So I’m on a mission to do whatever I can to prevent the same thing from happening to me. I did some research and found that other than not smoking, diet is one of the best ways to help prevent MD. I have a pretty good diet. I eat a lot of vegetables and greens, but the really healthy DARK leafy greens that have been recommended to prevent Macular Degeneration, like Kale, have been harder to fit in my diet. I don’t really like the bitter taste of raw Kale. But a couple of weeks ago, we ordered a flatbread at Table 3 restaurant. It was topped with “Kale Chips”, which were to DIE for, but of course, they were fried. I’m a southern girl, so I love fried vegetables, but I wanted to try to replicate them without all the fat.

I found a recipe for baked Kale chips, which involved tossing them with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. The problem with that method was that I ended up with half of the leaves covered with oil and the other half had little or no oil on it. I tried putting it in a ziploc bag and shaking it up, but it still didn’t come out even. So I pulled out my trusty can of PAM Olive oil spray. Voila! It was so easy to put a light coating on all the pieces on a baking sheet, then sprinkle with a little kosher salt and bake slowly for about 20 minutes or so. The only caveat is that, depending on your oven, you really have to watch them the last couple of minutes. If you cook them too long, they get a little bit burned, so the taste isn’t quite as good. If you don’t cook them long enough, they’re still limp, and not crispy.

This is how I did it. First, after rinsing the kale and COMPLETELY DRYING IT (I rinse and then lay out on layers of paper towels while I cook dinner), I take each piece of kale and fold it over so that I can easily cut off the stem.

I preheat the oven to 300 degrees, then tear the pieces into approximately equal size and lay out on a large baking sheet pan that I prepare by spraying with Olive Oil. I spray the tops of the leaves lightly but evenly with Olive Oil, then sprinkle with Kosher Salt.

You could use any kind of seasoning you like. The leaves will shrink, so be careful with the amount of salt, but in my opinion, the salty crunchiness makes it really good! For the first pan of chips, I set the timer for 18 minutes. Then I taste a chip to see if it’s crunchy.

Finished chips…this batch needed a lot of taste testing before they were done!

Usually I need to let them cook at least two more minutes, but I have learned that I need to watch very carefully during this time. Once they start to get crunchy they can very quickly burn. Some days they cook faster than others. I don’t know what that’s about…maybe some days I don’t get them as dry as I should. If, after 20-22 minutes they are still not crunchy, I turn off the oven and let me stay for a little while. But they can still burn so I have to continue to check on them.

After you make these a few times it becomes much easier…I usually cook them while I’m chopping other things, or piddling around in the kitchen, so it goes very quickly. I leave them uncovered in a bowl or platter for several days so I can grab a handful throughout the day. Don’t wrap them or put them in plastic, or they’ll lose their crunch.

The search for easy Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

Almost a year ago, my daughter decided to become a vegetarian. While I respected the motivation behind her decision, I was a little bit worried about how I was going to feed my family. We had finally gotten to a place where I could make ONE dinner and everyone would eat it. But my husband does not think it’s a meal unless some form of meat is present. Fortunately, H will eat fish, but unfortunately, Jeff only ate swordfish, shrimp and lobster. Oh, and fried catfish at Sportsman’s Grille. Fast forward a year, H is still a pesca-vegetarian (eating only fish), J has added Trout, Tuna, Scallops and Halibut to his list of edible seafood, and I’ve found the best places to buy seafood in Nashville (not an easy task since we’re 8 hours from the nearest ocean).

But I can’t serve fish every night. Sometimes I have to make vegetarian chili (added meat to J’s), vegetarian pasta, and I am learning how to prepare tofu. The only experience we have had eating Tofu was the vegetarian lettuce wraps at PF Changs. And to be honest, it’s hard to tell the difference between their tofu wraps and the chicken wraps. I found a recipe online for the PF Chang’s version, but both times I made them the tofu just tasted blah…and the texture wasn’t the same. Plus, after mixing together the marinade, the cooking sauce, and the dipping sauce, and chopping up the vegetables and tofu, my kitchen looked like Haiti probably looks this morning. (Small pause for a prayer for those victims).

So I have been experimenting with the recipe, and last night I made a much better, easier version of the above recipe. I think the key is how to prepare the tofu before stir-frying. I start with a block of firm tofu, drained, and put it on a stack of 5 or 6 paper towels. Then I top it with another few paper towels and put something heavy on top (a heavy pan, a plate with a teapot full of water, etc.) After about 20 minutes, I turn the tofu over, replace with a couple more paper towels (I know, bad for the environment), and repeat the process for another 10-15 minutes. Then I thinly dice it, put it on a roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray, and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, stirring halfway through. THEN, I marinate it. When tofu is warm, it supposedly takes the marinade flavors better. When I put the recipe together about 30 minutes before dinner, the tofu got really nice and chewy and very flavorful.

So here’s the recipe:

Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

4 Tbsp. Soy sauce (low sodium)
2 Tbsp. Rice Wine
1 TBsp. Rice Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 Tbsp. lime juice

Mix above together and cover prepared tofu for 1-2 hours, or longer before stir frying.

1 block firm or extra firm tofu, or soy crumbles (see note)
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves chopped garlic
1 small can water chestnuts, finely chopped
1/2 bag broccoli slaw mixture
2 Tbsp. canola, sesame or peanut oil
1/4 cup of Iron Chef Honey Garlic stir fry and marinade sauce (or similar bottled sauce)
Iceberg, Boston Bibb or Butter Lettuce Leaves

Heat oil in wok over medium heat, add drained, marinated tofu and stir fry 15-20 minutes, stirring gently until browned. You can see below how the tofu “pops” as it browns.

Remove from pan, and add remaining ingredients. Stir fry for 5 minutes until veggies begin to soften. Add a little bit of reserved marinade to deglaze if needed. Stir fry for a few more minutes as veggies continue to soften, then add stir fry sauce. Stir until veggies are done and sauce is warm. Add tofu and stir. Serve with Iceberg, Boston Bibb or Butter Lettuce leaves.

Dipping Sauce:
Lettuce Wrap Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
2 tablespoons chopped green onions

Combine all ingredients and serve with lettuce wraps.

NOTE:  Sometimes I don’t feel like going to the trouble of draining the tofu, so I substitute Soy Crumbles.  There are many different brands, but they can be found in the produce department, where you buy tofu and other vegetarian meat-type products.  They have the consistency of ground beef and work very well in this recipe because they soak up the taste of the stir fry sauce.

Our family is growing…plus Fresh Corn Potato Salad!

Life at our house has taken a dramatic turn…after much thought, discussion, and debate, we decided to adopt a new baby.  So here we are, beginning our 50’s with a baby in the house.

Our dog Rosie is now six, and is very active. Three years ago, she had a touch of arthritis and the vet told us she needed to lose weight, so we put her on a green bean diet. (Cut food in half and supplement with green beans). Now she’s 30 pounds lighter and loves to run and play and does so with no limping. We thought it would be a good idea to get a new puppy so she will have a buddy to run and play with. We were told it would keep her young. Although she gets a little annoyed with her right now,  they are already playing together and we can tell they are going to be great friends.

She has the only child syndrome, though, and needs to learn to share her toys…

I haven’t had much chance to write, with the housetraining and swim training and walking and cleaning up accidents around the house…

But I just had to share a recipe that I kind of threw together today with stuff I needed to use up in the refrigerator before I went to the grocery. I’ve been trying to find good recipes that will go with J’s fish and H’s tempeh or tofu or whatever vegetarian protein I can find. I’m tired of the usual rice and veggies. I had a couple of ears of corn from the roadside farmer’s market, a bag of spinach, some cherry tomatoes and half a bag of baby potatoes. This recipe actually has about 10 grams of protein per serving, so it could be a vegetarian entree if you want. This recipe serves 4, but you can double it if you have a larger family.

Corn and Potato Salad

4-6 ounces small yellow potatoes
Two ears of fresh corn kernels (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup minced shallots
1 1/2 TBSP white balsamic vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1/2 TBSP Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

3 cups spinach, trimmed (or arugula)
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

feta or goat cheese to sprinkle on top

Place potatoes in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 11 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to chill. Cut potatoes in half. Combine potatoes, corn, tomatoes and bell pepper in a large bowl.

Combine shallots, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir together and slowly pour oil into mixture while stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle over corn mixture, and toss. Add Spinach, toss. Sprinkle with basil and feta cheese (if desired).

I made  pecan crusted trout for J, topped some marinated tempeh with the pecan/bread crumb topping and baked it with the trout, then added some sauteed green beans and it was a big hit with my family.   (**Big time saver for the trout…I found Progresso Italian Style Panko and combined that with some crushed pecans to top the fish and tempeh. )You should try it now, while we can still get some of the fresh veggies from local farmers. Yummy!

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with Chicken Sausage, homemeade Hummus, and summer in the mountains!

We’re starting the fifth week at our lake house…the first time we’ve been able to get away for this long. Thankfully, J can work from anywhere, with internet, cell phones and faxes. It’s gone by really fast…I can’t believe it’s been this long. Our days are spent hiking, running, swimming, boating, golfing, playing tennis, reading, and SLEEPING! Both of us are starting to really catch up on last year’s no sleeping.

My BHRT is kicking in…that, plus the melatonin that I’m taking every night is enabling me to finally sleep through the night-for the first time in years! When I wake up around 6:30 to go to the bathroom, I’m even able to lay back down and sleep for another hour. Unbelievable, when you think that for the last couple of years I couldn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time!

One of our favorite things up here is the “Music on the Mountain“, which is held at the top of Toxaway Mountain (Meadow Ridge), every 3rd Saturday throughout the season. It’s a potluck, everyone brings food, and coolers with their beverage of choice. Having a glass of wine at the top of a mountain and listening to music is so much fun. We’re even beginning to meet other people who have homes here. A majority of them only spend the summers here, like us, and drive in from places like Atlanta, Greenville, SC, Florida, etc. We started coming last year, and brought our own food and never ventured over to the “potluck table”, but we’ve realized we need to be more social. So even though my family likes to pack our own dinner, I always bring something for the potluck table to share. Gives us a reason to mingle a little bit.

The BEST recipe I’ve found since I’ve been here is so easy and so delicious. We planted a small herb garden when we got here in June, that has just thrived in this weather, and the basil is big and thick and healthy, so I needed to make some pesto. J and H love sun dried tomatoes, so this is a quick variation on plain pesto that is beautiful and delicious. I added the chicken sausage because J always has to have some kind of protein.

Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Chicken Sausage

* 12 ounces penne pasta
* 1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
*3 links chicken sausage, cooked and crumbled (**If you want to make this vegetarian, substitute a can of black beans, rinsed, or vegetarian sausage)

1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

2. Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Mix with cooked sausage (or black beans)  and place in bottom of large bowl.

3. Add the pasta to the pesto mixture and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve. Top with finely chopped Italian Parsley, if desired.

Since the closest grocery store is half an hour away, I’ve had to get creative with things to bring for the potluck. Instead of picking up a tray at the store, I have to make things myself. Luckily, I had a can of chickpeas and some Tahini, so I made a quick batch of hummus and homemade Pita chips. I think the homemade is so much better than what you buy at the store, anyway (less greasy), and it only takes a minute…

Easy Classic Hummus
* 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
* 1/4 cup tahini
* 1 TBSP lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 cloves garlic, halved
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 pinch paprika
* 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

1. Place the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a
blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a
serving bowl.
2. Drizzle olive oil over the garbanzo bean mixture. Sprinkle with
paprika and parsley.

Greystone Inn’s Potato Soup

If you’ve ever read any of my previous posts, you know we spend a lot of time in North Carolina. It’s a community called Lake Toxaway, and it’s a beautiful, turquoise lake at the top of a mountain. We found it 7 years ago, when we stayed at a resort called The Greystone Inn. Over the years, we’ve stayed there several times, then we started renting homes, and finally, last summer we bought a little place of our own there. We don’t get there as often as we’d like, since H is so busy at school, but whenever we can get away, we’re there.

Last week, while H was in Washington, DC, on a school trip, we spent the week there. It was so great. Our dog, Rosie, was in heaven. We hiked every day to a different waterfall, went mountain biking up Cold Mountain Road, swam in the lake, and J tried to teach me to golf. Not a pretty picture. He only let me use a 3 iron, and a putter. I teed up in the fairway, and still embarrassed myself.

We ate dinner on night at the Greystone, and I ordered this cream of potato and leek soup that I didn’t think I’d like (I don’t like creamy soups…too fattening), but ordered anyway because it came with the meal. It was so great I ate it all, and asked for the recipe. To my surprise the “cream” came from blending up the potatoes and leeks…it was a broth soup, and only had a tablespoon of olive oil in it!

Don’t pay any attention to that description. It was phenomenal! I made it tonight, and J and H loved it. It’s super easy, too.

Here’s the recipe:
Potato Leek Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 large)
5 cups cubed peeled Yukon gold or red potato (about 2 1/2 pounds)
5 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add potato and vegetable broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until potato is tender. Place 3 cups of potato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan; bring to a simmer. Stir in salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes, serve warm.

Garnish with chives and croutons, if desired.


Roasted Butternut Squash…YUM!

J was out of town earlier this week so H and I had our favorite dinner. It’s not really a recipe, per se, but anytime we serve these everyone wants to know how to make it so I thought I’d post it. When I was growing up in the south, we only had vegetables slow cooked with butter or bacon fat, or fried, so this whole concept of roasting fresh vegetables is new to me. I think using this method you can roast anything and it tastes good. We usually do butternut squash, onions, asparagus, and ,maybe potatoes or sweet potatoes. I’ve done it with carrots, sweet peppers, green beans, and just about any vegetable in the pantry. I use a convection oven so that I can roast multiple pans (they shrink up when cooking, but take up a lot of space at first). If you don’t have a convection oven you can just put in multiple pans and rotate them periodically. When I set my oven to 425 degrees in the convection mode it actually cooks at 400 degrees, so adjust accordingly.

Also, the butternut squash, potatoes, and carrots take the longest time so I put them in the oven first, then cut up the rest and put them in a few minutes later.

H and I aren’t really vegetarians, but this is a wonderful, filling, healthy meal.

Roasted Vegetables

*Any variety of vegetables, but the following are my favorites:

Butternut Squash
Sweet onions
Sweet Peppers (Red, Green or Yellow)
Sweet Potatoes
Olive oil
dried basil
kosher salt

Wash, peel (if necessary), and cut into 1″ chunks the squash, onions, potatoes or sweet potatoes. Trim root end of asparagus, and cut carrots and peppers into thick strips.

(Butternut squash is very labor intensive to peel. The easiest way I’ve found is to use very sharp chef’s knife and cut ends off, then cut bottom (seed end) off and peel that, scoop out the seeds, then peel the long end and slice and cut into chunks. Some people just cut in half and cook, but I like exposing the cut ends while roasting to give it a little crispness)

Place vegetables in large bowl and sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Use hands to toss with the oil so it’s distributed evenly. You don’t have to use much. Spray large roasting pans (I use those large flat pans with about 1/2-1″ sides) with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Spread vegetables so that they’re separated, sprinkle with kosher salt and a little dried basil. Roast in convection oven set at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes or until cooked and a little crispy on the edges.
The different veggies cook at different speeds. The onions and asparagus cook pretty quickly, should only take 20 minutes or so. Squash and potatoes take the longest. Roasting brings out the sweetness and the kosher salt just makes it delicious!