Tag Archives: vegetarian

Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls

Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls
Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls

There is nothing I like better than making and eating fresh spring rolls.  They are tasty, they are healthy, they have delightful textures AND they are portable.  But what I really, really, absolutely LOVE (as in a twirl my dress and spin around kind of giddiness-love) is the peanut dipping sauce.  I could eat it by the bucketful.  To tell you the truth, the spring rolls for me are sort of a Peanut Sauce delivery system. I have been known to eat the peanut sauce on ice cream (try it, you will love it, I promise), with apples and pears, even bananas.  Sometimes, if I think nobody is watching, I will lick my plate of any residual peanut sauce (don’t judge me).  It is my “green eggs and ham”

Let’s start with the recipe for the sauce:

peanut sauce

Mix in ingredients into the oil and garlic/ginger saute.



Peanut Dipping Sauce

1 tbsp canola oil

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

½ inch piece of ginger grated

OR just one tablespoon of ginger garlic paste you’ve blended together

5 tbsp water or chicken broth—may add more as needed

5 tbsp hoisin sauce

½ cup peanut butter

1 tbsp Sirarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek

1 tbsp Palm sugar or brown sugar (Palm sugar adds a wonderful depth of flavor that is not to be missed)

Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in the hoisin sauce and water or broth and stir for a minute or two. Next add the peanut butter, Sriarcha or Sambal Oelek and Palm sugar and stir until well blended and sugar dissolves. Add additional water if needed. Sauce should be smooth but thick. Take off heat and top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai chili if desired or more Sambal Oelek.

To make this sauce Vegan or soy free:

1 Tbsp canola oil

2 cloves garlic

¼ inch piece of ginger grated

5 tbsp vegetable broth or stock

½ tsp salt

½ cup peanut butter

2 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tbsp Sriarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek

1 Tbsp Palm Sugar

3– 4 tbsp of water

Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in all the remaining ingredients except for the water. Stir until well blended and heated through. Add the water (more or less depending on consistency). Sauce should be slightly thick and smooth. Top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai Chillis if desired.

rice paper

Choose the size of rice paper you like (bigger is easier to work with)


Rice paper

Dip the rice paper into warm tap water and turn to get it wet

Glass noodles

soak the rice stick noodles in water to soften (10 minutes)


Get all veggies ready to begin rolling




Slice shrimp into halves (they nestle nicely in the roll)




spring rolls

Place veggies 1/3 of the way into paper and tuck in



Vietnamese Spring roll

Tuck in the edges before the next revolution


Spring roll

Place shrimp cut side up and tucked along the edges


vietnamese spring rolls

The shrimp shows through the paper

spring rolls and sauce

Enjoy with the peanut sauce


spring rolls and sauce

Peanut sauce delivery system


Vietnamese spring roll

Spring Rolls

Rice spring roll paper (12 sheets)

Warm tap water (several cups in a bowl to soften rice paper)

Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced

Cabbage, shredded

1/3 package of thin rice vermicelli noodles, cooked

cucumbers, thinly sliced horizontally

1 Shredded carrot

1 cup bean sprouts

twelve pieces of long chives

handful of Cilantro

handful of fresh mint (peppermint variety – found in Asian markets)

Cooked shrimp, deveined and sliced in half

Or you can use Chinese style BBQ pork (Char Shu)

Or chicken

Or use only vegetables without any proteins


Thoroughly wash all the vegetables and prepare them as listed above. Soak the rice vermicelli noodles for 6 to 10 minutes in hot water then rinse them under cool tap water. I buy the pre cooked shrimp that’s already deveined and cleaned and then slice them in half (usually at Costco). I also buy all my produce at the Asian Market because they are a LOT cheaper.

There are a million brands of rice paper. Choose the cheapest one. They are pretty much the same.

Dip the paper in warm water, turning it in a circle as you dip and gently press in the middle to get the whole paper wet. Avoid sticking the whole paper in a bowl and letting it float around. It just needs to get wet – not soaking wet. Gently shake off excess water and place the sheet on a cutting board or plate in front of you. On the top third of the paper closest to you, place a small bundle of romaine lettuce and cabbage, next put the vermicelli noodles on top followed by the carrots, sprouts, cucumber, a few leaves of mint, one frond of chives and two small leaves of cilantro. Fold the paper closest to you over the vegetables and tuck tightly under. Once you’ve rolled one revolution, tuck the left and right side into the roll. There should be some paper still left in the front, place the shrimp cut side facing up (like inverted “u”) next to the roll and finish rolling up the spring roll. You should be able to see the Shrimp from the outside . Serve with peanut dipping sauce. Serve at room temperature. Avoid making ahead and refrigerating since the rice paper dries out or gets too soggy. If you must take it somewhere to eat/serve it, wrap each roll in plastic wrap so they do not stick to each other and serve within 2-3 hours.


Hummus – quick and tasty

Hummus – quick and tasty
Hummus – quick and tasty

Hummus has been around for a long, long time. It was the ultimate “fast” food that was easy to carry. When Bedouin tribes traveled with their herds from place to place, carrying dried grains that were ground up was a lightweight and economical option. It also was a great source of protein. I am so glad that it has become one of the “in” foods. High in protein, good quality monounsaturated fats and delightful flavor…what’s not to like? Here’s a fast, easy and very budget friendly version.
What makes it especially economical is the use of whole sesame seeds instead of Tahini in a jar. Tahini is a paste made of sesame seeds that adds tremendous flavor to this dish and It’s rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron, not to mention essential amino acid Methionine, which aids in liver detoxification. It is also high in Vitamin E and a host of B vitamins and calcium. It’s the ultimate brain food.

Ingredients:  good quality olive oil, garbanzo beans, fresh garlic cloves and lemon

Ingredients: good quality olive oil, garbanzo beans, fresh garlic cloves and lemon

Use sesame seeds instead of tahini paste

Use sesame seeds instead of tahini paste

Drizzle a little olive oil before serving

Drizzle a little olive oil before serving

So let’s get to the recipe.

2 cans (15 oz) of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
juice of half a large lemon
2 cloves of fresh garlic, roughly chopped
kosher salt to taste
1/2 cup good quality olive oil

In a food processor, dump in the garbanzo beans and pulse a few times. Add the sesame seeds (you pulse the garbanzo beans first so the sesame seeds don’t fall to the bottom of the processor) and garlic and pulse 3 or 4 times. Add in lemon juice and turn on the food processor. As the processor is doing its work, begin to drizzle in the olive oil through the lid opening until the mixture begins to get nice and smooth. Add salt to taste and pulse a few times. Pour into a bowl and drizzle a bit more good quality olive oil. Serve with Pita bread, vegetable strips or Pita chips and enjoy. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Serving size 1/2 cup. Cost per serving 48 cents.

Peach Tart for Dummies

Peach Tart for Dummies

I love things you can make that are visually stunning, tastes amazing and takes little or no effort to make.  Like this Peach tart.  It is gorgeous and people will rave about it and it takes just a few minutes to put together.  I love it!  All you need is a package of store bought puff pastry sheets (you can be a Martha Stewart and make your own, but why?) and some fresh ripe peaches and you’re golden. ANYBODY can make this.  Literally the peach tart for dummies. Try it for your next get together and watch the rave reviews come in!

Place peaches on puff pastry sheet and sprinkle with sugar

Brush peaches with heated apricot jam

Peach tart

Peach Tart for Dummies

1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted

1/4 cup sugar

2 ripe peaches, thinly sliced

1/4 cup apricot jam

1 tsp water

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Defrost puff pastry dough in the refrigerator.  Take out one sheet and place on a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet.  No need to roll out.  Pierce the puff pastry with a fork.  Thinly slice two fresh large peaches and layer them in three rows on the puff pastry sheet leaving a half-inch clearance on all four sides.  Sprinkle sugar on top of the peach slices.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool slightly.  In a small microwave safe bowl heat apricot jam and water together for about 45 seconds.  Brush over the peaches until shiny.  Serve cooled.

Blackeyed Pea, Corn and Mango Salsa with Homemade Chips

Blackeyed Pea, Corn and Mango Salsa with Homemade Chips

There’s nothing like a refreshing and hearty dip on a hot summer day.  I’m always looking for fun new ways of making salsas and dips that are not heavy and creamy.  The Caribbean side of my family love eating Pigeon Peas.  In fact it’s a staple of most Caribbean rice dishes.  Pigeon peas are hard to find fresh here and I have to go to specialty stores to get the canned version.  The closest cousin I have found to the Pigeon Pea is the Blackeyed Pea.  I love the texture and mild flavor of Blackeyed Peas.  The skin is not thick and it has an almost creamy mouth feel.  Perfect for a salsa. I used canned Blackeyed Peas and canned Corn in this salsa.  You can definitely use roasted fresh corn and pressure cook some Blackeyed peas.  Since this was one of many items I was cooking yesterday, I decided to just go with the canned.  It turned out great and saved me some time.  With the fresh ingredients, you don’t really notice that the peas and corn are canned. The heat from the chilies are nicely balanced with the sweetness of the Mangoes. Paired with fresh home-made BIG tortilla chips as a scoop, this salsa is “da bomb”!

Mix the dressing ingredients together (LOVE the Pomegranate vinegar)

Pour dressing over the dip ingredients and mix well before chilling in the fridge

Make large homemade tortilla chips

The extra large “scoops” are fantastic with this salsa

Blackeyed Pea and Corn Salsa

2 cans (14 oz) of Blackeyed Peas (rinsed and drained)

1 can (14 oz) sweet corn (rinsed and drained)

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1-2 Thai chilis, take the seeds out if you want it less spicy

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, minced

15 or so green spanish olives, chopped

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 mangoes, diced


1/4 cup olive oil

zest and juice of one lime

1/2 cup pomegranate vinegar

fresh cracked pepper

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp sugar or honey

In a large bowl place the washed and rinsed canned Blackeyed peas and corn.  Add all fresh chopped ingredients and toss lightly.  Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the dip and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.  Great with large home made tortilla chips.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

12 inch uncooked (or cooked) flour tortilla chips

Oil for  frying

Cut the tortillas into fourths and fry in oil until golden brown, drain over paper towels.  Can be made a day ahead and stored in airtight container or zip lock bags before serving.

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

I made some garlic mashed potatoes to go with some meatloaf  a couple of days ago.  The meatloaf is all gone but I had about 2 cups of garlic mashed potatoes left over.  I hate throwing food away so I decided to ‘re-purpose” the potatoes. I have made potato bread before but not usually with garlic mashed potatoes.  I decided to fully commit and throw in a few dried herbs and see how the potato bread turned out.  I was delighted.  The bread was tender, yeasty, and the garlic along with the basil, thyme and dried onion gave it a wonderful flavor.  It was great for sandwiches, just toasted with a little fresh butter, tremendous as a grilled cheese sandwich, in a savory bread pudding and I even made some croutons out of a few pieces.  I think I have to make this bread again…really soon!

Mix up the mash potatoes into the dough

Let the dough rise for about an hour or until doubled in size

Shape into loaves and place into greased or sprayed loaf pan

The texture and flavor were fantastic!

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

1 cup garlic mashed potatoes

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp dried onion flakes

1 1/2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 cup warm milk

5 cups or a little more bread flour

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast

Heat milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm.  Stir in sugar and yeast into the milk and let it sit for a little bit until it’s foamy.  In a large bowl mix together garlic mashed potatoes, dried onion, herbs, salt, eggs and butter mix well.  Add the yeast mixture to the potato mixture and add in 4-5 cups flour until a dough forms.  Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic.  Put dough in a greased bowl.  Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased.  Cover and let rise for about 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.  Punch down dough and shape into two loaves.  Place loaves into two greased loaf pans and cover let it rise for another 40 minutes or until doubled in size again.  Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when top is tapped lightly.  Remove from pans and let it cool on cooling rack before slicing. This bread freezes really well.

Chickpea, Radish, Cucumber and Pepper salad with herb vinaigrette

Chickpea, Radish, Cucumber and Pepper salad with herb vinaigrette

We eat a lot of chickpeas in South Asia.  In cooked food, in fried fritters, in sauces and especially salads.  I wanted a quick and easy salad with a little crunch and some protein in it so it could double as a filling lunch and not merely a side dish.  I loved how this salad came together.  Perfect for a summer Saturday after a killer workout!

Mix together the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk together

Thinly slice all the veggies

Let it sit for a few minutes before enjoying

Chickpea, Radish, Cucumber and Pepper salad with herb vinaigrette 

1 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup of sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half


3 tbsp pomegranate vinegar

1 tbsp honey

lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp fresh chopped dill

2 tbsp flat leafed parsley, chopped

1 tsp dried basil

1/4 cup olive oil

fresh cracked pepper

salt to taste

Whisk together all the ingredients of the vinaigrette until an emulsion forms.  Toss together all the salad ingredients and pour dressing over the vegetables.  Let it sit for a few minutes before eating!

Balinese Style Eggs with Keffir Lime Leaves

Balinese Style Eggs with Keffir Lime Leaves

There are many ways to cook eggs and I think I love every one I’ve encountered.  I like eggs.  They come through in a pinch, they are cheap and taste amazing in pretty much any type of dish from savory to sweet.  This particular recipe came from my older sister Rita.  She and her husband have lived in some amazing parts of the world.  Along the way, she’s picked up languages and recipes.  On our frequent phone conversations we often find ourselves discussing food and our various body parts and why they won’t defy gravity any longer.  This is one of the recipes that she insisted that I try,  telling me that it was “soooo good and soooo easy”.  I trust her judgement so I cooked it up following her directions and she was right.  It was delicious and very easy to make.  The Keffir lime leaves are the key ingredient in this dish.  It makes it rock and roll in your mouth.  This was such a hit at our house that Ryan, my eldest, wanted this to be one of menu items at his Mehndi.  Mehndi means “henna” and can also refer to the parties we have before a wedding.  Ryan and Marie’s Mehndi was the day before their wedding and we had a little over a 100 guests coming to our house.  So  I found myself making a batch of this recipe with 190 eggs.  I have never peeled that many eggs in my life and I hope to never do it again (even though I had help!).  You can pair this with some rice, pita bread or I’ve even mashed up the leftovers into a killer “egg salad” sandwich.

Place all ingredients except for eggs, sugar and keffir lime leaves in a blender and blend until smooth.

Pour tomato puree into hot oil

Add keffir lime leaves and simmer for about 10 minutes

Add eggs and simmer for another 5-6 minutes

Sauce will continue to thicken as it simmers

Balinese style eggs with Keffir Lime Leaves

Balinese Style Eggs with Keffir Lime Leaves

1 dozen eggs, boiled and peeled

4 roma tomatoes, rough chopped

3 tbsp tomato paste

5 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger

1 large onion

1 green chili

1 tsp red chili powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup water

8-9 keffir lime leaves

1/4 cup sugar or to taste

1/4 cup oil

In a blender mix together tomatoes, tomato paste, turmeric, garlic and ginger, onion, green chili and chili powder and blend until smooth.  Heat oil in a large saucepan and pour in the tomato mixture along with the keffir lime leaves.  Simmer for 10 minutes until the oil begins to separate out from the tomatoes.  Add sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes, add in the water.  Cook another minute then add the eggs.  Cook another 5 minutes until all the flavors marry together. Take off heat.  Serve with rice, pita bread or naan.

Very Blueberry Muffins

Very Blueberry Muffins

I love fresh fruits of any kind.  Especially berries.  I had never had any type of berries until I moved to the States and lived on a farm with my American family.  Every summer I helped to pick raspberries, marionberries and blueberries.  I got scratched a lot in the middle of the bushes.  The thorny kinds had the best yields.  That’s when I learned that freshly picked berries warmed by the sun are a special treat.  I ate as many as I picked!!   I keep meaning to put in a berry patch in my yard but they never seem to fit into my landscaping plans.  So, I’m always on the look out for fresh berries at the grocery store.  This week there were entire flats of blueberries available for $4 at this local store I like to go to that sells unusual combination of things.  I had to buy them up.  I ended up making blueberry compotes, chutneys, breads, pancakes ….and muffins.  These muffins were everything a muffin should be and unlike the Seinfeld episode, I ate the whole thing with my coffee and not just the muffin tops!

Mash about 3/4 cup of the blueberries with a fork

Mix in the smashed blueberries to the batter, alternating wet and dry ingredients as the batter is mixed

Stir in the remaining whole blueberries by hand

LIne muffin cups with liners and scoop out batter with an ice cream scoop

Sprinkle top with a little raw sugar before baking

Bake for about 22-25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Very Blueberry Muffins

1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups flour

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1/2 cup milk

raw cane sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 375°.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  Using an electric mixer cream the butter and the sugar until creamy.  Add in the eggs and the vanilla and continue mixing.  In a separate bowl smash 1 cup of the blueberries with a fork and add to the batter and mix.  In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt until blended and with the mixer running at low speed add half the flour mixture to the batter and half of the milk and blend.  Add remaining flour and milk.  Fold in the remaining blueberries by hand.  Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and sprinkle a little of the raw can sugar on top of each muffin.  Bake for 22-25 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a wire cooling rack before serving.

Adapted from a Gale Gand recipe published in 1999

Romancing the Granola

Romancing the Granola

I kind of have a soft spot for Granola.  You see, I had just stuffed my mouth full of some yogurt and granola in the university dining room.  I had misjudged how much my mouth could handle and the extreme chewiness of the granola so I was trying desperately to gnaw my way through like a chipmunk….when I saw HIM.  He had hazel eyes and long eye lashes and was wearing a dark green sweater.   It’s funny the memories that come up with certain smells, sounds or foods.  As I was getting all the ingredients together for this granola for Onjoli and I to have with our yogurt or just as a cereal, I was grinning to myself and thinking about that first “meeting”.  The best part of that encounter was what happened a few minutes later.  I finally gulped down the granola and decided that I should make myself memorable.  Earlier that week I had learned the English word “saunter” (I was trying to improve my English by learning and using new words everyday).  I understood “saunter” to be sort of like a supermodel walk down the catwalk.  Not accurate, but hey, I was 17 years old.  In my head I planned to “saunter” past this hunk of manhood in my female glory so he’d be amazed and wonder “who was that gorgeous woman?”  I was so busy “sauntering” that I ran into one of the closed doors of the cafeteria.  I mean a serious face plant on the door.

The plan did work, he did notice me, just not exactly in the way I was planning.  Something must have worked, because that was 28 years ago.  Next week we will celebrate 26 years of marriage!

I was inspired by the awesome Chef Connie and her recipe for granola (she has a great blog!).  The granola turned out fantastic and I know that each time I take a bite, I’ll smile just a bit.  Do you have food that brings back a flood of memories?  I’d love to hear it!

Mix the dry ingredients, spices and brown sugar together

Heat together the applesauce, maple syrup, honey and oil

Add the heated “sauce” to the dry mixture

Add the heated “sauce” to the dry mixture

Spread on a cookie sheet to bake making sure to stir every 10 minutes to keep it evenly browned

Chop up the dried fruits

Add dried fruit to cooked granola while it’s still warm and mix well

Delicious Granola

5 cups rolled oats

1 cup pecans, rough chopped

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup raw peanuts, rough chopped

1 cup sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted

1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of any type of dried fruit you like—I used dates, apricots and dried cherries

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp sea or kosher salt

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp oil

Mix all the nuts, oats and seeds together (reserve the dried fruit for later) in a large pan or big bowl.  Add the spices, brown sugar and salt.   In a saucepan mix the applesauce, honey, maple syrup and oil and heat all the way through.  Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.  Spread the mixture evenly on a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet in a pre-heated 350° oven.  Cook for 40-45 minutes but make sure and stir it every 10 minutes to brown it evenly.  Remove from oven and add in the dried fruits and mix well.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes

Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes

Back in March when I started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing.  I still don’t.  But one of the fun things about blogging has been reading other blogs whether food related or not.  I’ve learned new things, added new foods to my repertoire and improved my culinary skills.  Who knew it would turn out to be so much fun?  One of the blogs I fell in love with has been Tasha’s Foodashion’s blog.   I saw  her post on artichokes and the gorgeous pictures and I was hooked.  I finally made a variation of her original recipe and I gotta tell you it was delicious.  Mine was not nearly as visually stunning as Tasha’s but we ate them up in record time!

Trim off the sharp edges with kitchen shears

Trimmed artichoke

Cook or steam them for about 25-30 minutes until tender

Take out the sharp middle leaves

Clean out the choke

Stuff liberally with filling and bake

Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes

4 Fresh Artichokes

1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 cup Camembert cheese

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup chopped flat leafed parsley

2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 onion, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon, zested and juiced

4-5 kalamata olives, finely chopped

Wash and trim the artichokes with kitchen shears.  Smash them down a little on your counter or cutting board (leafy side down) so they open up a bit like a flower and place them in a pan with water and lemon juice, (save the zest of the lemon in a separate bowl)and cook covered for about 25-30 minutes until tender.  Meanwhile assemble the stuffing.  Heat olive oil and saute the onion and the garlic together, add in kalamata olives and take off the heat.  Mix the cheeses with lemon zest, parsley and add to the onion mixture in a  small bowl.  When artichokes are cool enough to handle take out the middle part and clean out the “choke” with a spoon.  Divide the stuffing between all four artichokes making sure to stuff between leaves as well.  Bake at 425° for about 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly and dive into the gooey goodness!