Sunday, December 26, 2010

Just Like Mom's Beefless Stew

This time of year I always have a craving for comfort foods from my childhood, things like chicken pot pie, meatloaf, and beef stew (of course minus the chicken and beef!) This year, on Christmas Day, we took a hike up to Zapata Falls to explore the waterfall under ice and make a musical offering to the mountains in the exquisite natural acoustics of the rock. After a gorgeous day of hiking in the snow, sunshine, and exploring, I came home and improvised this tribute to mom's beef stew of my childhood.


5-6 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced
6 cups Not-Beef Broth, or other flavorful broth
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 T. Earth Balance
4 T. flour
1-2 Bay leaves
1 T. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 T. Marmite
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1-2 T. tamari
1 T. sugar
1 T. paprika
1 t. thyme
1 t. marjoram
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. onion powder
1 package of Beefless Tips by Gardein

1. Boil potatoes and carrots with bay leaves in broth until tender
2. Saute onion and garlic in Earth Balance until soft
3. Add flour to onion mixture stirring for 1 minute to create a roux
4. Gradually add broth from potatoes and carrots to the roux/onion mixture and stir until thickened
5. Add the thickened broth back into the potatoes and carrots
6. Add seasonings to taste and let simmer to combine flavors
7. Meanwhile, prepare beefless tips according to package directions (saute over high heat in a bit of oil until brown) and add to the stew

Note: I only had an hour to make this, thus the non-traditional method. I will likely try this again by cooking potatoes, carrots and onions in broth in a crock pot and add beefless tips and thickening agent at the end. Also, the spices are an approximation. Spice to taste!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Quinoa Skillet

It was 8:30 pm and we hadn't had dinner yet. On the verge of giving in and ordering a pizza, I hunted through the pantry and came up with these items: quinoa, black beans, and tomatoes canned last summer. Then from the freezer, roasted green chiles from last summer's farmers market and frozen corn, and from the fridge-red and green peppers and a sweet onion.

Jim chopped, I cooked, and we both really enjoyed this healthy meal! Quinoa is a powerhouse grain-high in protein, a good source of fiber, balanced in essential amino acids, and best of all tonight, fast cooking. What follows is my best guess at the impromptu recipe that emerged from this pantry hunt...


1 c. quinoa, rinsed well
1 1/2 c. water or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
several green chiles, diced
1 c. frozen corn
1 can black beans
1 1/2 c. tomatoes (I used some I had canned but a can of diced tomatoes would work great here)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt to taste

1. In a saucepan, combine rinsed quinoa, water or broth, and salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 min. or until all water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

2. While quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan or wok. Add peppers and onions and cook until soft. Add green chilis, corn, black beans, tomatoes, and spices and let simmer until everything is heated through.

3. Stir quinoa into pepper mixture and adjust seasonings. I went light on seasonings so you may want to use more.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Best Chai EVER

I love chai, but I do not love the highly processed and overly sweet commercially available chai that you find everywhere. With the recipe below you can adjust the sweetness and the spices to your taste, for example my favorite chai spice is cardamom so I use more of that. Give this a try and let me know what you think!

10 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 pieces of crystalized ginger
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
1/3 cup honey or agave (more or less according to taste)
4 bags good black tea (PG Tips is my favorite tea bag, or loose tea is great too)
1 1/2 cups soy milk, or milk of choice

Place 3 cups water in a small saucepan; add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla bean and scrapings. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer until mixture is aromatic, about 15 minutes. Whisk in honey or agave; drop tea bags in pan. Turn off heat, and let steep 3 minutes.

Strain tea through a fine strainer into a warmed serving pot. Heat milk in same saucepan over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Pour into serving pot with the tea, and stir well to combine. Serve immediately, with more honey on the side if desired.

Often I will make a double batch of this and keep the tea concentrate in the refrigerator just waiting to be combined with milk, hot or cold.

The Cambric

As I set my sights on summer, I am about to post a recipe for my favorite winter drink: The Cambric. This is also fantastic on a camping trip or sitting around the fire on a cool evening roasting vegetarian marshmallows with your closest friends.

What is a cambric? It is basically a drink made of sugar and steamed milk, flavored with tea. Laura Ingalls Wilder refers to this drink in her Little House series of novels about growing up in a pioneer family. It was a popular drink in the 18th and 19th centuries due to the wide availability of the ingredients. Widely considered a children's drink, it often served as a "gateway" beverage to stronger teas and coffee.

As I kick off summer sitting in the Salida Cafe in Salida, CO enjoying their version of The Cambric, I will share my own. There are endless variations and possibilities for this, so experiment. Let me know if you come up with something you love!


Soy Milk (or milk of choice)
Natural sweetener of choice (I use raw sugar, agave, or sucanat, Salida Cafe uses a shot of vanilla syrup, not so natural, but pretty yummy)
Tea of Choice (I have to admit, I am totally addicted to Earl Grey and haven't been able to talk myself into trying anything else. Although a simple tea bag or two will do, this loose leaf Earl Grey from Dragonwater Tea Company (also available at Wabi Sabi in Taos, NM) is SO amazing! Other spicy teas would also be great-Good Earth Original, any chai, etc.
Optional: A tiny bit of vanilla, or better yet, include 1/2 vanilla bean while steaming the milk

Steam the milk (stovetop, microwave, or if you have a steamer that will froth it too...heaven)
Dissolve sweetener in hot milk
Steep tea (I like mine strong so I use more than the suggested amount for a cup of tea)

Mild, slightly sweet, creamy, delicious.....bring on the summer camping!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Homemade Neurotoxin-Free Veggie Burgers

In response to the recent article about commercial veggie burgers made from soybeans "bathed" in hexane to separate the oil from the protein. While not completely made with whole foods, these are a better option. I use organic ketchup and mustard.

Dry ingredients:
2 c. TVP (textured vegetable protein)
1 T. garlic Powder
2 T. onion Powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. paprika
2 T. ground flax seed
1/3 c. nutritional yeast
3/4 c. ground oats
1 c. bread crumbs

Wet ingredients:
2 c. boiling water
2 T. miso
1-2 T. Braggs amino acids or tamari/soy sauce
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
4 T. ketchup
1 1/2 T. Dijion mustard
1 T. toasted sesame oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar

Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients and chill.
Use about 1/2 c. mixture per burger. Fry in a little oil in a skillet (cast iron is great). They best if you make them thin and brown them well. Makes about 10 burgers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Best Pasta Salad Ever

I have to start by saying this is my student Leslie's recipe. She makes it often and I am obsessed with it. In fact I am considering finding a way to sabotage her senior recital so she can't graduate...just kidding (I think). Anyway, whereas normally I would be a purist and make my own dressing, etc. I would not change a thing about this! Follow Leslie's directions to a T and you will join me in my obsession. I promise. Here it is, straight from the expert herself...

1 bag colored tri-colored rontini
green onions (optional)
cherry tomatoes
green olives (1 jar)
black olives (1 can)
artichoke hearts, quartered (1 can)
1 bell pepper, minced
1 bottle Good Seasons Zesty Italian dressing (you'll need olive oil (extra
virgin), vinegar (Leslie likes red wine vinegar) and a package of the dressing)
Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese

Cook the noodles. Once they're boiling, check them (bite one). You don't
want them too well cooked. Not crunchy, not mushy.
Drain and cool the noodles. Chop up the onions, bell pepper, cut up the
olives. Don't add the avocado until just before serving because it turns
Add shredded mozzarella cheese and mix everything together. Just
before serving, add dressing to taste. Don't use the whole bottle (too
greasy), but make sure there's enough to give flavor, add the avocado
and sprinkle a lot of Parmesan cheese over the top.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Kale Chips

This recipe has been floating around lately and after a vigorous recommendation from my friend Mary I had to give it a try. OMG. You will not believe how good these are.

1 Bunch of Kale
1 tsp. olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Be sure kale is very dry. Tear kale bite size pieces. Toss with olive oil. Lay out on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and sprinkle with salt. Bake until dry and crispy, about 15 minutes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Asparagus Risotto

I love risotto! So simple to make, rustic yet elegant, always delicious. Just a small investment of time while you stir, stir, stir...

Olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
24 oz. vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 c. white wine
1 lb. asparagus, cut into 2" pieces on the bias
Toasted pine nuts
Optional: Parmesan or Parma (vegan parmesan substitute made from walnuts, sea salt, and nutritional yeast)

1. Bring stock to a simmer in a stockpot over medium-low heat; reduce heat to low. Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the rice and cook over medium-high heat for about one minute, stirring to coat with the oil. Add the white wine and stir until the wine is absorbed, about 30 seconds.

3. Add the first addition of simmering stock, about 1/2 cup. Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add another addition of stock and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process until the mixture is creamy and a bit loose; the rice should still have some chew to it. The process will take about 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, saute asparagus in olive oil until tender. Set aside.

5. Turn off the heat and stir in the grated cheese to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Gently toss with asparagus. Serve topped with toasted pine nuts.

Notes: Also great with peas, butternut squash, spinach, basil pesto, creative! Leftovers can be made into crispy risotto cakes-so delicious!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Greek Pasta

For my friend Mark...

1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, sliced
8 oz. baby spinach (or more)
feta cheese (regular or soy)
pine nuts or walnuts, toasted

Pasta - radiatore is nice

While pasta is cooking, saute onion and pepper in a little olive oil, until soft. Add zucchini and cook until soft. Add the spinach and allow to wilt. Toss with feta and toasted nuts. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta and topped with Parmesan cheese. Add chick peas for more protein and fiber.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pineapple Cashew Quinoa Stir Fry

This recipe is from Veganomicon, my new favorite cookbook. If you make the quinoa in advance this is very fast to put together. Have all your stir fry elements prepped in advance. This is a filling, high protein, refreshing dish!

Pineapple Cashew Quinoa Stir Fry

1 c. quinoa (I used 1/2 c. white, 1/2 red for color contrast)
1 c. pineapple juice
1 c. water
1/4 tsp. tamari

Stir Fry
4 oz. raw cashews
3 T. peanut oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 hot red chili pepper, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 c. edamame
1/2 c. fresh basil, sliced into thin shreads
2 T. fresh mint, finely chopped
2 c. fresh pineapple, cut into bite-sized chunks
3 T. tamari
3 T. vegetable stock
1 T. mirin
Lime wedges to garnish

1. Prepare the quinoa first. (If you haven't used quinoa much, check out some tips below.) Combine the quinoa, juice, water, and tamari in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until all liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is plumped and translucent, about 12-14 minutes. It is best if you make this in advance and chill overnight, but otherwise, chill for one hour.

2. Toast cashew nuts and set aside.

3. Combine tamari, mirin, and vegetable stock and set aside.

4. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet or wok. Add scallions, garlic, chili pepper, and ginger. Stir fry for 2 minutes.

5. Add red pepper and edamame. Stir fry for 3 minutes.

6. Add basil and mint. Stir fry for 1 minute.

7. Add pineapple and quinoa. Add tamari, mirin, vegetable stock mixture and stir to coat.

8. Continue to stir-fry for 10 more minutes, or until quinoa is hot.

Serve with lime wedges and additional tamari.

Quinoa Info:

~Before cooking, the seeds must be rinsed to remove their bitter coating, called saponin. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, but it is best to rinse again at home before use to remove any of the powdery residue that may remain on the seeds. The presence of saponin is obvious by the production of a soapy looking "suds" when the seeds are swished in water. In nature this coating acts as a natural insect repellent.

~The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids.

~Quinoa thrives here in the San Luis Valley at 7500+ feet. Buy it locally from White Mountain Farm.

~Quinoa has been cultivated in South American Andes since at least 3,000 B.C.

Chickpea and Mango Curry

I experiment
ed with a new recipe, one that Jim picked out from Mollie Katzen's (of Moosewood fame) new cookbook, Get Cooking. This was a recipe that wouldn't have caught my eye, but I'm glad it caught his because it was delicious and very easy! I have modified the recipe to make it vegan, and also added spinach for nutrition and color.

Mollie has a great website with a ton of recipes worth checking out:

Chickpea and Mango Curry

1 T. canola or peanut oil
1 tsp. non-dairy margarine (I like Earth Balance)
1 medium onion, diced
1 heaping T. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Three cups or two 15 oz. cans of chickpeas
2 heaping cups of frozen mango chunks (about 12 oz.)
A few handfuls of baby spinach
Light coconut milk (optional)
A few dashes of cayenne pepper

1. Heat oil and Earth Balance in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion, curry powder, and salt. Cook for about 5 min. until onion begins to soften.

2. Add rinsed and drained chickpeas to skillet, stirring until coated with curry-onion mixture. Turn heat to medium low and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the mango, cover and let cook for 5 more minutes. Check to see if the curry needs more liquid to create a sauce. If so add 1/2 cup of water, or coconut milk. Add baby spinach. Cover again and cook for 10 minutes.

4. If you have the patience and time, let it sit off the heat for 10 more minutes for the flavors to develop. If not (and I didn't) serve over basmati rice with a dusting of cayenne on top.

Some variations: Substitute peaches for the mangos, serve with lime wedges on the side, garnish with finely diced shallot, onion, or cilantro, top with toasted cashews or roasted peanuts.

Notes: I added more curry powder and salt. The original recipe doesn't call for spinach, but I added it to incorporate a vegetable and add color contrast. I did not use the coconut milk, but I think it would really be a nice addition. I cook extra rice and freeze it so that a recipe like this is very fast to make on a weeknight.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Oh how I adore this simple little dressing!

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/3 c. pomegranate juice
1/2 c. good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 Tb. balsamic vinegar
1 Tb. of Dijon mustard* plus agave to taste
sea salt to taste

Combine all ingredients with hand held blender for best results. You could also use a whisk, but it will not stay emulsified. Will keep refrigerated for 1 week (but I doubt it will last that long!)

This is fantastic with baby spinach, thinly sliced apple or pear, avocado, toasted walnuts or pecans, dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries (or a combination) or fresh pomegranate seeds.

*The original recipe is from CLEAN FOOD by Terry Walters and calls for a 'zesty honey mustard' but I used a creamy Dijon with a bit of agave to sub for the honey.

I should note that personally I will always choose to use less of a full fat dressing than resort to a low-fat dressing. You can use less because the oil helps coat the salad better. However, feel free to experiment with the proportions if you want to cut back on the oil.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Guilty Pleasure- Biscuits and Gravy

A decade ago, I had never had biscuits and gravy before. In fact, I had never even heard of them, until on our honeymoon Jim was craving them for breakfast. As he enjoyed his biscuits and gravy, of course made with sausage gravy, I looked on, intrigued by this newly discovered comfort food. I even felt a little disappointed not to try them. Fast forward many years: It was actually my father-in-law Karl, who raises grass fed beef and is a die-hard meat eater, who taught me a kinder method of preparation. I am still to this day grateful for this lesson! And now, this is Jim's favorite breakfast (for special occasions only, since this is clearly NOT health food!)

Biscuits and Gravy - Veg Style

Biscuit ingredients
1 2/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (can sub up to half whole wheat)
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. non-dairy milk*
1/3 c. canola oil

Gravy ingredients
Your choice of veg sausage
3-4 T. of non-dairy butter**
3-4 T. flour
3 c. non-diary milk
salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk together dry biscuit ingredients. Add wet biscuit ingredients and stir with a fork to combine. Batter will be very thick. Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake a 475 degrees for 8-10 minutes.


Cook sausage according to package directions.

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed saute pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly add milk and stir regularly. As the mixture heats up, the flour and butter will gradually combine with the milk to thicken it. (This roux recipe is based on my 1951 Better Homes and Garden cookbook-"borrowed" from my mother when I moved out of her house -thanks Mom!) When gravy is thick, add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (this is good with lots of pepper!). Stir in the cooked sausage.

Serve gravy over biscuits and sit around and groan since you will probably eat way too much.

*I am a big fan of Westsoy Organic Unsweetened Soymilk. It has a nice neutral flavor for cooking and no added sweetener.
**Earth Balance is my go to non-dairy butter. Yum!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

When I got home from work tonight, not only did I want a snack, but I needed to make lunch for tomorrow. I got an urge to make this salad, inspired by a very fresh and clean tasting rice noodle salad that I enjoyed at the Saigon Cafe in Colorado Springs while at a conference recently. I just happened to have the ingredients on hand. I cooked a whole package of rice noodles and also happened to have rice paper on hand to make spring rolls (that was my snack!) with tofu and peanut sauce....mmmmmm!

Warning: I just threw this together and didn't really measure, so use your best judgment. These measures below are pretty close, but a guess on my part!

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

4 oz. dry thin rice noodles

1/4 fresh squeezed lime juice
1-2 Tb. tamari
1-2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. grated ginger

1-2 Tb slivered fresh basil
2 carrots, grated
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced into matchsticks
1-2 cups chopped napa cabbage or romaine lettuce

1/4 chopped peanuts
4-8 oz. tofu, lightly fried in a tiny amount of peanut oil (Optional)

Boil a large pot of water. When it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and put the dry noodles in the hot water to soak for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water and strain.

While noodles are soaking, combine lime juice, sesame oil, tamari, and ginger and whisk to make the dressing.

Toss the noodles with the dressing and vegetables, top with peanuts and optional tofu.

This could also work with scallions, red pepper sliced into thin strips, mint or cilantro.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Homage to Aunt Shirley: Chickenless Noodle Soup

Tonight I learned that my aunt passed away. These are the times it is hardest to live so far away. I spent some time today remembering her.We worked together at a group home where we assisted three developmentally disabled adults with their daily routine. She was the mother figure in many ways-cooking, cleaning, etc. while I was able to do all the fun stuff-take everyone dancing, to concerts, or to the movies. I fondly remember one day when we had a meeting to attend with the folks from the house and she was making soup for everyone. She made me my very own pot of chicken noodle soup...minus the chunks of chicken. Of course it was all chicken broth, which to a vegetarian counts as meat. I was so very touched by her kindness and thoughtfulness that I ate it anyway! It was the one and only time I knowingly consumed chicken in 22 years of being vegetarian. My point is, it was a soup created in love, thoughtfulness, and generosity - all of the traits my Aunt Shirley embodied. I will miss her.

Tracy's Chickenless Noodle Soup

Ingredients (vary amounts according to how much soup you want to make)

~olive oil
~chickenless broth or vegetable broth
~eggless noodles, or any wide noodle of your choice
~optional: firm tofu


1. Chop equal amounts of onion, carrot, and celery. I like to play around with wafer thin slices of carrot and a small dice on the celery and onion, but if you prefer chunky that works great too.
2. Saute vegetables in small amount of olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent.
3. Add broth and bring to a boil.
4. Add noodles and cook until tender, stirring with love, compassion, and kindness. (I often stir intentions into my food :-)
5. Add optional tofu and let simmer until tofu is heated through.

Share with someone who is under the weather, needs cheering up, or is the target of a random act of kindness.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Best Brown Rice...Ever

I am kicking off this new food blog with a staple. It doesn't get more basic than brown rice. You know how brown rice can get super sticky and clumps together? Not in this recipe. I got this from my mom's friend Barbara about a zillion years ago (OK maybe more like 20). In fact it was one of the first things I learned to make as a new vegetarian. Perfect every time if you follow the directions.

My favorite meal on earth is brown rice (or quinoa, millet, or any other whole grain), beans or lentils, and vegetables (steamed, roasted, or grilled) with a miso-tahini sauce. This is THE rice for this perfect meal.

The Best Brown Rice...Ever

2 1/3 c. brown rice (brown basmati will make your house smell amazing!)
1 T. olive oil
4 c. boiling water
Salt to taste

1. Rinse the brown rice and put water on to boil in a kettle or separate pot.
2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot. When it is hot, add the rinsed rice and saute until water is evaporated and rice smells nutty.
3. Add 4 c. of boiling water to the rice and let boil uncovered for 3 minutes. DO NOT STIR.
4. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes. Do not lift the lid, and DO NOT STIR.
5. After 45 minutes, remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Resist the urge to lift the lid, and you guessed it, DO NOT STIR.

The rice is done! I usually make a double recipe and freeze half in plastic freezer bags. If you freeze the bags on a cookie sheet, they will freeze flat and you can later stack them like books to save space.

Change of Pace...or Maybe Not

Off and on over the years I have been tempted to write a vegetarian cookbook. I am clearly obsessed with the topic. Today a light bulb came on in my head: Why not a blog? I can record all the recipes I create, or the ones I try out and love, and post them for friends and family to share. Brilliant! Maybe I will even take a few photos too. Stay tuned...this could be fun!