Balsamic wine reduction…portabella caps!

 This is so easy I shouldn’t even post it, but that’s the very reason to publish it ASAP.  I could be saving someone from a dinner of Cheez-Its this evening.

Recently I saw a FB post about making a balsamic vinegar and red wine reduction to serve with steak.  While it looked tasty, I wondered what was stopping me from trying it with portabella caps.  The answer, obviously, is nothing!

The “recipe” is a bit of a joke, but regardless… I added a bit of olive oil to my pan, turned it to medium high heat, and removed the stems from the caps.  Next, I added two portabella caps and cooked for a bit on each side.

Next, I added balsamic vinegar, a generous splash of pinot noir (thanks, Camie!), and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  After a few minutes on medium high, the reduction was…reduced…and dinner was nearly ready.

  Although I’m not much of a bread eater, Sam is…and tonight’s “bun” was a mini-naan cut in half .  (It’s delicious…try it.  Also excellent as a base for pizza.)  Tonight’s topping of choice was mashed avocado with salt and red pepper.  Another excellent choice…although my favorite is to have it over Ezekiel toast for breakfast!

Hope you have a new idea and that you’ll both try it and enjoy it.  Let me know!



Some like it hot!


And so do I, apparently! A friend of mine forwarded this recipe to me with the correct assumption that it would be “my kind of thing.”  Indeed…kale, sweet potato, white beans, curry, coconut milk…what’s not to like?  Lunch for a week paired with jasmine rice…(well, three days with two freezer lunches), and a nutritional powerhouse.

So what’s the problem?  None, if your tastes lean to the mild side. I started with the recommended amount of curry, added to the sweet potatoes.


The recipe calls for chopped kale, but I happened to have baby kale on hand, so I threw it in as is. (Am I the only one who over-estimates how many greens I can fit into a green smoothie…and how many green smoothies I can consume?  Let’s just say I needed to use that kale.)


The problem came during the taste test.  The foundation was there for a great meal…a variety of fresh ingredients, pleasing color for the eye, and coconut milk (come on).  But it didn’t pack a punch…that is…until I doubled the curry, added salt and pepper, and added red pepper flakes.  That brought the heat up to a noticeable level, but it needed a balancing element.  Bring on the agave nectar!  Personal preference, but I think that a spicy coconut base comes into its own with a bit of sweetness.  A tablespoon was all it took, but the difference was amazing.  Give it a try, and if you agree, please leave a comment.  I would love to hear about your adventures on the vegan journey!

Thai-Peanut Rice and Beans (Slow Cooker Version)

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Are you looking for a vegan recipe that’s economical, easy, and delicious? This one is a favorite of mine. While it can certainly be made on the stovetop (simmer for 20-30 minutes), the slow cooker gives the sauce a thick, delicious character. (Not to mention the joy of knowing that dinner is waiting when you get home.) This version uses chickpeas, but I have made it with a mix of white and kidney beans as well. If you try it and like it, let me know!

NOTE: This recipe was adapted from a chicken version at this link
If you are not vegan, you might want to give it a try. I made it often in the pre-rookie days, and it’s the reason this adapted version exists.

1 jar medium to hot salsa (or half of a large 24 oz. jar…ok to be flexible here)
1/3 c. peanut butter (increase to 1/2 c. if you love it, decrease slightly if calorie conscious)
1/2 c. vegetable broth (or water)
2 T. lime juice (substitute lemon if lime isn’t handy)
2 t. grated ginger root (refrigerated tube is incredibly convenient)
2 T. fish sauce (use soy sauce or Bragg’s Amino’s for vegan version…the fish sauce is more authentic for taste but isn’t vegan)
2 (15.5 oz.) cans drained and rinsed chickpeas (may substitute white beans, kidney, or mix)
Prepared rice or quinoa (I like jasmine rice prepared with 1 T. coconut oil and 1/2 t. salt)

Optional garnish: chopped peanuts and/or chopped cilantro

Mix the first six ingredients in the bottom of your slow cooker. Make sure that it is well blended and any visible peanut butter lumps are mixed in. Add the beans and stir gently.
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Set your cooker to low setting, and if it has a timer, choose 8 hours. Important — check the consistency when you get home and/or after 8 hours. If it is too thick, add another 1/2 cup of vegetable broth or water. Stir gently and add more liquid if needed — consistency is up to you! Depending on the type of beans you use, they may absorb quite a bit of liquid. Serve over rice with or without garnish, and enjoy leftovers another day!

Speedy Garlic Pasta Sauce with Roma Tomatoes and Basil

Thanks to “deannarama” for posting the foundation for this recipe at  The recipe (with a few adaptations) is noted below.  While this isn’t a complicated recipe, it is beautiful and satisfying in its simplicity.  At this time of year, I want my cooking to be fast, the meals to be light and fresh, and the recipes to incorporate local produce.  This one does it all!


pasta of your choice ( I use gluten-free pasta, and for this version it was Mai-Fun Rice Vermicelli), about 8 oz. for this amount of sauce

1/4 cup reserved pasta water

3 T. olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, minced ( I used two)

2 small to medium roma tomatoes, diced into 1/4 to 1/2 in. chunks

2 T. chopped basil

1/4 t. red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste


Prepare pasta according to package directions and set aside.  (For rice vermicelli, this often means just soaking in hot water for 1o minutes!)  Saute the garlic in the olive oil until soft but not browned.  Slightly golden is okay.  Add in the red pepper flakes, then stir in the tomatoes and basil just to warm.  Do not allow the skins to begin to peel from the tomatoes.  Stir in the pasta and reserved cooking water and toss to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Note that you can adjust the proportions to adapt to the amount of pasta you want to make.  This could have served four, but as it turns out, I had a small portion in the evening, with plans to have some for lunch the next day.  (I love leftovers.)  That never happened.  My husband ate the entire container for his lunch, which I suppose should be considered a compliment.  I made do with avocado toast (salted with red pepper flakes), and enjoyed that greatly as well.

A variation to try — saute baby bella mushrooms and add them in — either alone or with the recipe above.  The addition of mushrooms with this garlic sauce is heaven to the taste buds!

One variation on this versatile sauce!

One variation on this versatile sauce!





White Bean, Basil, and Lime Dip

I’ll admit — I got the idea to try this recipe from a trip to Trader Joe’s.  I don’t know what Trader Joe’s puts in their dip — I just saw the container and thought, “Hmmm, that’s interesting!”  However, I kept on walking and didn’t buy it.  Later, I thought I might try experimenting on my own, and in my opinion, it was a great success.  My  10 year-old son, Samuel, pronounced, “I love it!”  Good enough for me.

1 15.5 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed (I used cannellini, but I may try great northern next time…it’s in my pantry)

2 T. olive oil

juice from 1 whole small lime, or about 2 T.

2 T. chopped fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste ( I used about 1/2 t. salt and 3 turns on the pepper grinder)

As with hummus, use a food processor or high speed blender to mix the ingredients to a smooth consistency.  I did not need to add any extra water to thin this dip, but if you want to decrease the olive oil to 1 T. and experiment with adding 1 T. water to decrease calories, give it a whirl!

While the consistency comes out a bit like hummus, the taste has a lighter and more citrus-y feel.  Nice for summer!

No-Tahini Hummus

Ok, let’s keep it simple for the first post.  For vegans, I suppose that a recipe for hummus is like a recipe for boiled water.  Rookies have to start somewhere!

Why no tahini?  Well, there’s nothing wrong with tahini…it has healthy oils and a nice sesame flavor.  It’s just that it adds extra fat and calories, and to be quite honest, I like the way this hummus tastes without it.  If I like the taste without adding it, I figure I don’t really need it.  Feel free to modify this to your heart’s content.

1 (15.5 oz) can of chickpeas (garbonzo beans) drained and rinsed — I like Goya brand
2 T. extra virgin olive oil (to start)
2 T. lemon juice (about 1/2 fresh lemon)
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. fresh-ground pepper (about 4 turns on your grinder…keep it somewhat coarse)
water — added to thin to desired consistency

Combine ingredients (except water) in a food processor or high-speed blender (ex. BlendTec).  After the initial processing of a minute or so, scrape down the sides and determine if you need to add a tablespoon of water or so to thin the mixture.  Continue to process/blend until the mixture is very smooth — it may almost seem a bit fluffy when it’s just right.  Taste test often!  I like mine on the salty side, and I like the zing of cracked pepper, too!  Add what you need. Serve with tortilla chips or veggies, or use as a sandwich spread with some fresh cucumbers.  If you’re not going gluten-free, try pitas.

Experiment!  Add fresh parsley from your garden.  Roast or saute some garlic and throw it in.  Have some fun.