Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Blueberry Trifle

It’s stupid hot again in Texas. Summer has its grip on Austin. Welcome to the muggy buggy sweltering summer.

Who wants to fire up the oven to bake when you can barely keep the house at a reasonable temperature to begin with? Well, I do, but that’s because some people pay me to bake. Others gleefully accept my fairy cake mother gifts on their birthdays.

To avoid the oven, you may want to try a trifle. Mom used to make these layered desserts quite often for Lion’s Club Potlucks in Vimy, Alberta (the nearest town to my rural home). Mom used either Jell-O or vanilla pudding and sliced banana and strawberries in her layers, topping it with a good amount of whipped cream.

My version is chock full of short cuts, unlike most of my baking that is done from scratch. This is a good thing to pull together quickly and can be adjusted to feed more people, just add more ingredients!

blueberry triffle midnitechef.com

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 a container of Cool Whip (you can make whipped cream, but this is shortcut #1)
  • 1 cup Frozen organic Canadian Wild Blueberries (shortcut #2, frozen keeps longer, and they don’t have to be Canadian)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • Lady Fingers
  • Fresh Raspberries (if you happen to have some, they’re a nice touch)


Let the Cool Whip thaw so it can be spooned into a bowl, or whip whipping cream until soft peaks form.
In a small bowl, add the blueberries and vanilla. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute to release the juices from the berries.
In a serving dish, place lady fingers, breaking them in half as needed, to make a single layer.
Spoon half the blueberries and juice over the cookies.
Spoon half the Cool Whip over this.
Repeat another sequence of lady fingers, blueberries, Cool Whip.
Top with fresh raspberries (optional).


This makes a small batch of triffle, a perfect to sharing size. Keep it in the fridge until ready to serve. The lady fingers will absorb the juices and turn a beautiful violet, while the whip stays crisp white. Until you dive in, of course.


Read Full Post »

My daughter is captivated by the numerous ladybugs hanging out at our house.  I made her a ladybug house out of a recycled salsa jar.

ladybug house jar

While I was cutting up vegetables for my dinner, another ladybug appeared on the window.  I caught it and gently tossed it in the jar.  Now she has two critters to gawk at.  I wonder how long this phase will last, or will she want to be an entomologist when she grows up?  Either way, there will be no scorpions or spiders in this house.

Dinner was a colorful collection of crunchy vegetables.

veggie bowl

A friend of mine suggested I watch Michael Mosley’s new series on PBS, particularly this one.  I realized that I’m already fairly close to the  regime he discusses on the show.  That is, for a few days you eat a regular diet (feeding), then hardly any calories (fasting).

The key nugget I took away was that a body running on very low calories and protein will use the available energy for restoration of cells instead of multiplication or “go-go” mode.  In terms of disease and cancer, the body works to restore deterioration brought on by these aliments.  Very interesting stuff.  My cousin recently discovered a cancerous tumor and is undergoing treatment.  Anything that peers into the biomechanics of humans, especially in relation to food, is intriguing to me.

I remember my grandmother, who lived into her 90’s eating very little each day and drinking hot tea.  Was there a direct correlation of diet and longevity?  This is the question Mosley poses.

A reminder of my habits (good and bad) came in the form of a blood test, cholesterol specifically.  My total was 184.  According to my doctor, you want to keep it under 200.  I didn’t get the break down of the HDL and LDL but the number still jarred me, especially after watching the show.

This year is the beginning of an introspective look at my own health.  No time like today, right?

Read Full Post »

chop drop soup

This is not so much a recipe as it is a map or method to creating soul satisfying soup in five easy steps.  Let your imagination go wild, with the blessing of your taste buds of course.  Soups are a perfect way to use seasonal veggies that you may find at your local farmers market.  Say there is an unusual squash on the table, ask the grower if it is hard, bitter, sweet, or soft?  Bitter squash is not the best candidate for soups, at least in my view, so I avoid those.  Zucchini is about as bitter as I will go.  Give chop and drop a try!

Step 1

Empty the veggie drawer into the (clean) kitchen sink or counter.  Wash all skin-stay-on veggies.

Step 2

Peel and trim veggies.  Chop into manageable pieces.  Hint: the smaller the dice the hastier it cooks!

Step 3

Drop into a soup pot with a swirl of olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Stir.

Step 4

Add liquids.  Choose your favorite stock, broth, bouillon, OXO, Knorr, or even tomato puree, or can of cream of whatever plus milk.

Step 5

Wait.  Poke the veggies to see if they are tender. Heck, you could even taste one or two.

You are ready to eat!

Read Full Post »


As you can see I’ve been learning the art of bibimbap, a Korean dish that is basically rice with what ever I have in the kitchen that looks good.  All three of these were a combination of rice + vegetables + egg.  I’m not sure there is a wrong way to go about this.  I read up on the basics on Herbivoracious, did a few Google searches for images and gave it my best shot.  Even bought….tofu (something I never thought I would do because of a kitchen disaster in high school at my BFF’s house when she tried making me eat tofu before I was ready, Mom said don’t feed me tofu when I come visit!  Aversions to wet slimy bland mush runs in the family I guess!).  Another reason for this experiment is lamenting my friends who moved to Korea this month.

The first plate (above) had all cooked, at least sautéed, vegetables.  This included yellow pepper, green beans, cauliflower, and onion.  Weird, yes, but it worked.  Without the proper Korean condiment I made a ponzu hot sauce mixture and drizzled it over everything.  I survived.


The second round was made with raw vegetables, baby kale salad mix and English cucumber.  I enjoyed the contrast in texture and temperatures.  Also used gochujang this time.  I can see why some people want to chug this stuff, I suggested thinning it out with vodka first.  Haven’t heard back on that one.


Last one to tell you about is the full boat.  Fried tofu with sesame seeds, sautéed yellow bell pepper and green onion, raw bell pepper and the tips of green onion, baby kale salad, avocado, (tomato that I added halfway through eating after I realized I left it in the fridge), fried rice and egg.  The gochujang is under the egg so it mixed with the rice.  Man, this was good and so filling!  I can’t even think about dessert, not even a handful of blueberries.  I’m stuffed.


Look, Mom, it’s tofu!  If you can handle curry this should be delicious.  I’ll stick to my word…no sneaky tofu.

Read Full Post »

Recently I started ordering local organic foods through Greenling.com  and my first box included a container of cubed butternut squash.  This is a rather hard squash and I appreciated the preparation so that I could dive right in and start playing.

I roasted the squash with an equal amount of organic Gala apples seasoned lightly with salt and pepper.  I steamed a cup of couscous (which is a pasta not a grain just so you know) and shook up an olive oil dressing in a recycled caper jar.  Here is the recipe I wrote down:

  • approx. 4 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 4 small Gala apples, cored and cubed
  • 1 cup couscous, steamed for 20-25 minutes
  • 1/3 cup dried currants
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 5-6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Roast squash and apple with a light coating of olive oil, salt and pepper at 375ºF for 25-30 minutes.  Toss in a large bowl with steamed couscous and dried currants.  In a small jar combine the vinegar, oil, salt and spices.  Cover with the lid and shake to emulsify.  Adjust seasoning if needed (you want the dressing a little strong because the salad will muddle it slightly) and toss into the salad.  Serve warm.

Serves 4 to 6 people as a side.


Read Full Post »

Taco Salad

Want to skip the crunchy carbs of taco night?  Make a salad instead!

Chop up your favorite lettuce.  Make a fresh “salsa” out of diced tomato, onion (red or white, or green yum) and peppers.  Cook ground meat with taco seasoning or combine chili powder, garlic, oregano, cumin and salt.  To make it vegetarian, you could use beans instead of the meat or diced Portobello mushroom caps.  Hey that actually sounds pretty tasty!  Top with shredded cheese.

Funny tidbit for you:  the most popular search on my blog remains at Claire Robinson, she has many fans including yours truly!

Read Full Post »

My colleagues asked me to join them for Cheese Steak Thursday at Delaware, I declined with a mouthful of this salad….

  • Red lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Orange Bell Pepper
  • Garden Tomato
  • Garlic Naan “croutons”
  • Sweet Onion Dressing

The lure of cheese is sometimes overwhelming.  However, I’m trying to eat less gluten to see if it helps my rosacea situation.  See that pie looking thing behind the plate of salad?  I’ll be writing about it as part of my review of Babycakes by Erin McKenna.  Stay tuned for it!

Read Full Post »

Toss the following:

  • steak, cooked how you like and sliced (leave off for vegetarian option)
  • spinach
  • tomato
  • red bell pepper
  • cheddar cheese, cubed
  • croutons
  • jicama shards (those are the white pieces)
  • italian dressing

A view of a half-eaten salad that I decided was tasty and wanted to share it with you.  Too bad your screen isn’t scratch’n’nibble!

Read Full Post »

For those who are veggiephobic, this post is for you.

I get that some people, my son included, do not like tomatoes.  My roommate in college hated tomatoes.  Would not touch anything red on her plate.  This was a bit of a conundrum because 90% of the meals I could cook back then involved canned tomato in some form.  I think it was my (attempt at) Jambalaya that converted her from a tomato-tyrant to lycopene-lover!  The same trick has not been as successful with my son, mostly because my Jambalaya contains another food phobia of his: seafood.  Shrimp to be exact.  He gags at the sight of any aquatic species on a plate.  I wonder if he is trying to avoid accidentally eating Nemo?

To get those good wholesome tomatoes in his system, they had to be sweet and invisible.   I would need a cloaking device: the oven.

Roasting any vegetable (I know tomatoes are fruit, but that’s not important here) will concentrate the natural sugars and begin to caramelize them.  Humans, especially children, seek out sweet foods; this tells our brains that this food is fuel.  Bitter and sour indicate a possible threat, like poisons and broccoli.   Treat your less palatable vegetables to an artificial sun tan in your oven or on the grill.  They will be less likely to send off alarms, hissy fits, and tantrums at the dinner table.

This roasted sauce has five ingredients.

  • organic tomatoes, halved and cored
  • red bell pepper, halved and seeded
  • olive oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • herbs: Greek or Italian herb blend, or fresh basil and oregano

Set the tomatoes and peppers cut side down in a roasting dish.  Brush the skins with oil.  Roast at 350ºF until soft, about half an hour.

Let the pan cool before carefully removing the skins from the tomatoes and peppers.  Put the pulp and any juices into a blender or food processor.  Add a pinch of salt and herbs to your taste.  Blend until smooth.

Pour the blended peppers and tomatoes in a pot, bring the mixture to a slow simmer and reduce to whatever thickness you like.  Store in the fridge in non-reactive containers up to a week or use it immediately with pasta.  If you reduce it further, it would make a great pizza sauce.

Read Full Post »

Farm stand  in North Austin

Every Wednesday Angel Valley Farms sells organically grown produce in north Austin.  I don’t make it out the mini market every week, but I happened to be on the way back from a morning appointment when I realized it was Wednesday.  Almost 10am.  The farmers open at 10 sharp and if there’s something special, like golden beets, you have to get there early if you have any hopes in snagging the prize veg of the day.  With three yellow bunches left, I grabbed one.  Before I could decide if I needed more for this recipe I was conjuring, a short thin woman appeared behind me “…You know I think I take both of these…” My mouth was open to speak but nothing could come fast enough.  At least I had one bunch.  I also took a bunch of carrots which looked juicy and tender, most importantly, fresh!

The latecomers will have to make do with purple beets.

I peeled these little blondies after a short trip in boiling water.  My first borscht was starting out lovely.  I wasn’t even worried about my lack of fresh dill, even though most recipes I’ve seen call for it or pickles.  No dill? There’s a patch for that: chives.

Here is what you will need for my twist on borscht:

  • 1 bunch (4 – 6) yellow beets
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 – 3 medium parsnip
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 large yellow onion (or half a small one)
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional and to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • sour cream (garnish)
  • chives, chopped (garnish)

Boil a small amount of water for the beets.  Cut the stems 1/4 inch from the top of the bulb and trim the root end.  Boil for a couple of minutes to soften the rough outer skin.  Discard the water and set the beets aside to cool enough to handle.   Bring the stock and water up to a simmer the empty pot.

Peel the beets, carrot, and parsnip.  Dice.  Dice the onion.  Add everything to the simmering liquid and cook until tender.

Strain the vegetables and reserve the broth.  Put the cooked vegetables in a blender or food processor.  Pureé.  Add broth as needed to end up with a silky smooth soup.  Adjust for salt (and sugar) and blend again.

Pour the soup back in the pot over low heat for a few minutes as you stir in the fresh lemon juice.

To serve, ladle into four bowls and top each with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of chives.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »