Friday, July 25, 2014

Last minute recipe that we all LOVED!

Vegetarian Ziti (or Penne)

*serves 8

1 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 can Low Sodium Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)
1 medium Zucchini, diced
2 medium Carrots, diced
1 cup sliced Cremini Mushrooms
1 cup chopped Walla Walla Sweet Onion (or any sweet onion)
1 can Diced Tomatoes
1 cup Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
1 box Whole Wheat Penne or Ziti pasta
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tbsp Creole Seasoning (Tony Cachere's)
4 oz Shredded Asiago Cheese (1 tbsp. per serving)

1. Cook pasta according to box instructions.

2. Heat large skillet over medium high heat with 2 Tbsp Olive Oil and 1 Tbsp Butter.

3. Add onions, carrots, garbanzo beans and mushrooms and saute until the onions are translucent.

4. Add the zucchini, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth and all the seasonings to the skillet, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

5. In a large bowl combine cooked pasta and the vegetable mixture and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

6. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of Asiago Cheese on each bowl.


We like to serve pasta dishes like this with skillet toast!

Chili Goodness!

We tried this recipe last is very spicy so you will want to reduce or OMIT the Cayenne Pepper if you don't like spicy food!

Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili

*Serves 6

1 medium red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped, or 1 heaping tablespoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less, depending on how spicy you like your chili)
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
28-ounces canned diced tomatoes, including the liquid*
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable broth
garnishes: sour cream, sliced scallions, sliced radishes (optional)
  1. In a 4 to 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot, sautée the chopped vegetables in one to two tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. You’ll need to stir the ingredients every few minutes so they can cook evenly.
  2. Once the onions start turning translucent, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add all of the spices and canned ingredients, and stir. Cover and cook for up to two hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. By the time your chili is done, the sweet potatoes should be nice and soft and the liquid should have reduced a bit, producing the hearty chili consistency that we all know and love.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fried Rice can be so easy!

This is a really easy, great tasting recipe for fried rice with pan seared tofu!  I split  the recipe and make it in 2 batches (I don't have a pan big enough to do all of it), you can certainly cut everything in half and make a batch for 4 people.

*Serves 8

Mr Dowg's Easy Fried Rice

4 Tbsp Sesame Oil
6 cups cooked white rice
1 lrg Red Onion, diced
2 cups frozen Peas and Carrots (Jenny!)
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Low Sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp Kosher Salt (or to taste)
2 tsp Black Pepper
1 package of Extra Firm Tofu, drained, diced and marinated.  (see recipe at the bottom)

1.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the sesame oil to the pan.

2.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions, peas and carrots and saute until tender.

3.  Slide the veggies to one side of the pan and use the empty half to fry up the eggs until cooked through. Add the Kosher salt and pepper at this time.

4.  Mix the eggs and veggies together in the pan and then add the rice to the pan.

5.  Completely mix the ingredients in the pan and then poor over your mixture of soy sauce,sweet chili sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix completely and then move to a large bowl.

6.  Carefully mix in your pan seared tofu so you don't break it all up.

Serve and enjoy!

Marinated Tofu!

1.  Take your tofu out of the package and put it in a bowl that has a few sheets of paper towels in the bottom.  Place a few more paper towels on top and then put something with some weight on top to help force the liquid out of the paper towel.  Let it sit for about 30 minutes.

2.  While your tofu drains, get a bowl and mix together 2 Tbsp of Sesame Oil, 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce and 2 Tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce.

3.  When the tofu is drained, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and place in the bowl with the marinade.  Put the lid on and shake it to fully coat the tofu pieces.  Let site for about 30 minutes,

4.  Drain tofu and sear in a hot skillet with a couple Tbsp of oil until golden brown and delicious!

This is great in the fried rice but it also can be used in pasta dishes as well.

Brussel Sprouts???? Really????

Growing up I absolutely HATED Brussel sprouts.  I was forced to eat them every time they were served for dinner.  It is one of the few things that my mom cooked that I absolutely hated but she just used frozen Brussel sprouts and boiled them.  YUCK!  Once I was grown and able to fix food myself they were something that I swore I would never eat again.  Well, with going vegetarian I am looking for new things to fix because just eating salad and the same old broccoli and cauliflower all the time gets boring.  I started looking for different recipes and kept coming across ones for Brussel sprouts.  I actually made a slaw out of them from a recipe I found but that is not what I am going to post today.  I tried this recipe the other night and we all loved it, I found the basic recipe online but of course I have to tweak things to make it my own!

Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts
1 lbs Brussel Sprouts, trimmed and quartered
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.  In a large bowl, put the Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar and Dijon Mustard and whisk until you form an emulsion.
3.  Trim and quarter the Brussel sprouts and add them to the bowl.
4.  Toss the sprouts to fully coat.
5.  Place sprouts on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the kosher salt and pepper.
6.  Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until they are golden brown and delicious.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Rainbow" Veggie Pasta

This is a recipe that I came up with all on my own.  It is a good way to use up vegetables that you have in your fridge that need to be used.  It would be easy to substitute things in place of what I listed.  I have made variation of this a couple times now and we all seem to love it every time!

"RAINBOW" Veggie Pasta
*Serves 8 - approx. 332 cal per serving

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Med Red Onion - finely chopped
3 Carrots - chopped
1 can Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans) - drained and rinsed
1 Lrg Zucchini - chopped
Splash of Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups Grape Tomatoes - sliced
2 cups Kale - chopped
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
2 tsp Kosher Salt
2 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 Cup Water

1. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta, cook pasta according to box instructions.
2. Add 2 Tbsp Olive Oil to skillet over medium heat.

3. Once oil is shimmering, add onions, carrots and chick peas along with 1 tsp of Kosher salt to skillet and saute until the onions are translucent.
4. Add Zucchini and a splash of Worcestershire Sauce to skillet and cook an additional 5-7 minutes.
5. Add kale, tomatoes, all the remaining seasonings and 1/2 cup water to the skillet, cover and cook another 5 minutes.
6. Remove vegetable mixture to a large bowl, add pasta to the bowl and the last Tbsp of oil to the bowl and mix all together.  If it looks really dry you can a little pasta water to the bowl and stir.
*Salt/Pepper to taste if you think it needs more!

Per MyFitnessPal:

Barilla - Mini Penne Pasta, 1 box (56.0g)1,600336856016Ico_delete
S & W - Garbanzo Beans, 1 1/2 cup330458211,3806Ico_delete
Generic - Zuchinni, 2 cup581422116Ico_delete
Grape Tomatoes - Generic, 2 cup (75g)60120408Ico_delete
Onion - (Red), 1 Cup, Chopped48150267Ico_delete
Oil - Olive, 2 tablespoon239027010Ico_delete
Spice - Coarse Kosher Salt, 2 teaspoon00002,2400Ico_delete
Spices - Pepper, black, 2 tbsp3380160Ico_delete
Spices - Garlic powder, 1 tbsp2860122Ico_delete
Spices - Onion powder, 1 tbsp2460142Ico_delete
Generic - Italian Seasoning, 4 tsp000000Ico_delete
Kale - Kale, 4 cup132242121006Ico_delete
Carrots - Raw, 2 cup, chopped105251217712Ico_delete
Add Ingredient       
Total:                                     2,657     491   48 102      3,927   65
Per Serving:                                       33261     6  13        491   8

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A different Cauliflower!

I am trying to find some new things to do with common vegetables.  I always have cauliflower in our fridge and was getting tired of just eating it raw or steaming it with broccoli.  Tonight I decided that I would roast it and season it.  I just coated it in olive oil with seasoning in it.  It came out DELICIOUS! Kind of like baked fries but with more flavor in my opinion.

In the words of Alton Brown...... "Golden Brown & Delicious!"

Roasted Cauliflower Poppers

1 Head of Cauliflower
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Wash and clean Cauliflower.  Cut off and discard the stem. Cut the cauliflower up into bite size pieces
3. In a large bowl, combine the oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.  Add the cauliflower and toss to thoroughly coat each piece.
4. Place cauliflower onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for one hour, turning the cauliflower 3 times during the cooking process until each piece has a nice brown coloring.  The browner the better.

5. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

No more processed, chemical containing Ranch dressing for us!

As we started this vegetarian adventure I knew that we would be eating a lot of salads.  And of course, being from the south, salad means RANCH DRESSING! I knew immediately that I had to come up with a better for us version of ranch instead of eating the highly processed stuff that you can buy in stores.  I found a recipe online that was OK, but I had to tweak it a little to get something that I was happy with.

Homemade Avocado Ranch Dressing.

*Serving size 2 Tbsp

2 small Avocados (really ripe)
1 cup Mayonnaise or Veganaise
1/4 cup Soy milk
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp Dried Dill
2 tsp Dried Parsley Flakes
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Place ALL ingredients in a blender (I use a Magic Bullet) and blend until smooth!  I store in a squeeze bottle so it is easy to put on salads.

Toasted Seasoned Walnuts

I was making lunch today and decided I wanted something different on our salad instead of the same ole thing.  One thing I am realizing is that I need to come up with new ideas for salads since we eat so much of them.  I decided that I would take some of the RAW walnuts that we had and toast them and season them.  They turned out great and I decided to share the recipe that I came up with.

Serving size is 1/3 cups.  Good concentrated source of calories and nutrients.

Makes 6 servings.

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cups RAW walnuts
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp "Kick'n Chicken" seasoning
1/2 tsp Sugar
Chop up the cup of Walnuts and place them in a small skillet over medium to medium high heat.  
Toast them in the pan for a few minutes, when you can smell the nutty scent in the air they are done.
Add the Tbsp of Olive Oil to the skillet and toss the walnuts to coat them.
Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, Kick'n Chicken seasoning  and Sugar and toss the walnuts to ensure even coverage.
Remove the walnuts onto a plate with paper towels to cool and to get rid of any excess oil.
*the sugar gives a little sweetness that goes really well with the spicy seasonings
Store in an air tight container.  
These are great on salad, in pasta dishes or just as a snack by themselves.


Monday, July 7, 2014

RAW!!!!!!! (still not sure about this stuff)

About a week into our lifestyle change, I decided that may we needed to do a RAW diet instead of just doing vegetarian or vegan.  I started looking all over the internet for ideas and I came across this wonderful blog: This Rawsome Vegan Life .  She has tons of raw recipes that look really good and I would love to try some more of them.  She also does juice and/or smoothie cleanses a lot and always posts her recipes for those as well.

I searched through her recipes for a while and came across one that I decided we needed to try.  I will be up front about the fact that I had to order a "spiralizer" in order to do the zucchini pasta the right way.   Spiralizer on Amazon

*I would recommend just cutting the zucchini into noodles or shredding it on a cheese grater for your first try.  Don't spend the money on a specialized gadget until you are sure that you will like doing RAW dishes!

I would love to hear back from anyone who tries this recipe!  My wife and I liked it ok, our 8 year old son devoured it but our 19 year old daughter didn't like it at all.  RAW is definitely not for everyone!

Zucchini Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil

2 large zucchinis 

1 cup dried tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil 
Salt, pepper, lemon juice, other spices you like
1/2 cup basil leaves (whole or chopped) 

Note: the tomatoes are gonna need to taste *amazing* before you even add them to the noodles and stuff because they are the star of this recipe, so try to get organic or even better - use your own! 

To make the noodles: slice the zucchinis into noodles on a spiral slicer, mandolin or even cheese grater. Set aside in a large bowl. 

To make the sauce: blend up half the tomatoes into paste then mash up the rest of the tomatoes with the olive oil and the rest of the ingredients and mix everything into your noodles. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and mix again.

My very first TOFU recipe I tried!

I found this recipe on another blog when I first started trying this whole vegan/vegetarian change!  The link to that persons blog is: TheCozyApron

This is a more complicated recipe and it costs a little more than what I was expecting but it is really good and worth the money as long as you don't do it very often.

(Serves about 6)

1 (1 lb.) block “extra firm” tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press, divided use
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided use
¼ cup flour
• Vegetable oil
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, cored and seeded, and sliced into strips
1 small yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded, and sliced into strips
1 small orange bell pepper, cored and seeded, and sliced into strips
½ onion, halved again and sliced thinly
• Sweet Chili-Hoisin Sauce (recipe below)
½ pound brown rice pasta (I used spaghetti-style), cooked according to package instructions, then rinsed well and drained (*see note)
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, julienned, divided use
¼ cup peanuts, minced

(*Brown rice pasta can be a bit more starchy than normal pasta, so use a big pot with a lot of water in it; when you put the pasta into the boiling water, use tongs to move the pasta around to keep it as separated as possible, stirring occasionally during the cooking process; cook until soft but with a slight bite.)


-Place the cubed tofu into a large bowl, add the soy sauce, sesame oil, 2 cloves of the pressed garlic, and ¼ teaspoon of the cracked black pepper, and toss to coat; allow the tofu to marinate while you prep/slice the rest of the ingredients.

-Once marinated, add the flour to the tofu cubes, and toss to coat them as evenly as possible; to crisp the tofu, place a large non-stick skillet or pan onto medium-high/high heat, add about 2-3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, and allow it to become hot; once hot, add the flour-coated tofu cubes to the pan in an single layer (working in two batches, if necessary), not moving them to allow them to crisp up on that side for about 2 minutes; turn them over once they're golden on that first side, and don't touch them again for another 2 minutes to allow them crisp on that second side; next, shake the skillet/pan a bit to move the tofu around to crisp on all remaining sides, for about 1 more minute; turn the heat off once the tofu cubes are golden, and slide them into a bowl or onto a plate, setting them aside for a moment and keeping them warm.

-Next, saute the veggies by placing the same large non-stick skillet or pan over medium-high heat, and adding about 1-2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil to it; once the oil becomes hot, add in the sliced mushrooms and chopped Roma tomato, and saute them for a 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms become golden, and the tomato begins to soften and become juicy; slide them out of the pan and onto a plate, and set them aside for just a moment; next, drizzle just a touch more oil into the hot pan if necessary, and add in the sliced bell peppers and the sliced onions; leave them undisturbed for about 2 minutes, to create a nice char/caramelization on one side, and then toss them a bit and allow them to char a little more, again undisturbed, for another couple of minutes; next, add in the remaining 2 cloves of pressed garlic and stir, and then add the crisped tofu cubes back into the pan, along with the Sweet Chili-Hoisin Sauce, the brown rice noodles and about half of the julienned basil; turn off the heat, and toss everything together to evenly coat.

-To serve, spoon equal portions of the brown rice pasta and tofu/veggies into a bowl or plate, and garnish each portion with about 1 tablespoon of the minced peanuts.

*Sweet Chili-Hoisin Sauce ingredients:

½ cup Hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar


-Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Top Secret Recipe - Becky's Banana Bread

Well I thought I'd start out my blog with a bang!

Here is Becky's Banana Bread recipe.  She has NEVER shared this with anyone.  She created this when Baxter and Karla were very small.  The story goes that Baxter loved bananas, but would never eat the last 2 bananas because he knew his mom would make banana bread when they were ripe.

I figured if I have to write a blog then she can share her most prized recipe with you all.  AND.... it is vegetarian!

Becky's Banana Bread

2 Eggs (Yolk Broken)
1 cup mashed ripe banana (or more)
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons calumet baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 box instant vanilla pudding - large
Cinnamon/Sugar mixture

Preheat oven to 350
Prepare pans by greasing and then sprinkle generously with cinnamon/sugar
Stir together - eggs, banana, oil and milk
Stir together - flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, pudding
Combine and stir until all is wet.  Add more milk if too dry.  Should be thicker than cake batter
Fill pans to 2/3 and sprinkle top with cinnamon/sugar

Bake for 30 - 55 minutes depending on pan size.

Becky has small loaf pans that I like this made in (pic above is the small loaf).  Gives lots of crust and cinnamon per bite.  Bake for 30 minutes in these.

A large loaf pan takes closer to 55 minutes, but watch closely.

Enjoy - and don't tell Becky you found it here :)