Category Archives: vegetarian

Cinco de Mayo Salad and Green Goddess Dressing

photo (2)photo (5)photo (2) photo May is here and it brings warm weather and beautiful flowers and springtime has finally arrived. This is a perfect way to bring a little Cinco de Mayo into your home in a pretty healthy way.

Any excuse to celebrate a holiday with a new recipe! Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone and here is a new salad and salad dressing to help celebrate with. While I am not a vegan and don’t always cook that way,  I tried this salad dressing which I found in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, “It’s All Good”, and I have to say it is all good! All good ingredients. I am not talking diet food–just good, healthy food, that when eaten in moderation, yields very good results. I used * Vegenaise in making this and highly recommend it in the place of mayonnaise. You can also use yogurt in its place. This is low salt and low sugar. Delicious, fresh ingredients. I made it with the delicious salad listed below. I love love cilantro, and I have to say that if you don’t love cilantro, this one’s not for you. I used half of a jalapeno and it was not hot at all, next time I will use a little more.  I scraped the seeds out. Be very careful handling jalapenos and their seeds–make sure to wash your hands well afterwards and maybe wear gloves to prevent any problems.

This dressing will keep well in a jar for up to a week.

*a little story about Vegenaise, which is lighter than mayonnaise and contains no eggs, milk or animal products. No GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). Mix it with Dijon for great flavor in the place of real mayo. Extra added bonus is a great jar to store future salad dressings in.

Ingredients:

*this will be vegan if you use Vegenaise

DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup of Vegenaise, yogurt, or mayonnaise

2 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)

1/2 green jalapeno, roughly chopped (you can use more or less, whatever level of heat you like)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon honey

DRESSING DIRECTIONS:

Blend all ingredients in a blender except for olive oil (I open the top and pour oil in after all other ingredients are combined.) It is a beautiful light green color with specks of dark green. Joel was definitely suspicious of the color but he really loved it! Gave it a big thumbs up!

This should serve 4 nicely as a salad but adjust quantities based on how many people you are feeding.

SALAD INGREDIENTS:

About two hearts of romaine Lettuce, shredded

1/2 can of yellow corn (or 2 fresh ears of corn, shucked)

1/2 can black beans (I use organic canned beans and rinse and drain them)

4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

1 ripe avocado, cut into chunks

approx. 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (I used delicious cherry tomatoes, halved)

1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Green Goddess Dressing (see above)

If you’re using fresh corn, you’ll have to cook it first. I used the canned version this time. Place the lettuce in a large bowl and dress it with about 1/4 cup of the dressing, just so it’s nicely coated. I then added beans, tomatoes, scallions, avocado, cilantro and corn. Add a little more salad dressing, and serve immediately. Joel likes a lot more dressing on his salad so I served with dressing on the side. And no he didn’t eat all that stuff in the salad; he just ate lettuce and tomatoes…he really doesn’t know what he’s missing!

Ranch Dressing – BLT Salad

photo (2)DSCN0290photoDSCN0292One of the best things to come out of writing this blog is being in touch with so very many different people and getting inspired by their ideas as well as my own. Bree emailed me to tell me about this dressing that she made from Ina Garten. I was so happy for the email and a new dressing to make. I followed the salad dressing recipe decreasing the salt and changing the salad to a Bacon Lettuce and Tomato salad. So yum, and thanks again Bree for thinking of me and writing to me, I love that you thought of me and that you inspired me to make this new dressing.  This is one helluva great dressing and it would make one helluva great dip. Another perfect anytime salad. Thanks!

Ingredients:

3 scallions, white and green parts , chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 – 1 teaspoon kosher salt to taste

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup good mayonnaise ( you can use light but not fat free please)

1/2 cup Greek style yogurt , I used 2%

1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken ( you can use lowfat)

Salad Greens:

for 6 people you will use 3 small Bibb Lettuces, or Boston Lettuce or Romaine. Whichever you prefer. I could only find Romaine so that’s what we had. We like our lettuce chopped so that’s what I did.

2 large ripe tomatoes or small grape ones, whichever you prefer.

6 slices of Bacon ( I used microwave Bacon) it’s awesome–no fuss no muss

*1 red onion thinly sliced ( optional)

*avocado cut into chunks ( also optional)

I made all the salad dressing because it will keep in fridge for a few days , I used less lettuce and less other ingredients just for the two of us. I used the red onion and avocado for my 1/2 of the salad.

Directions:

Place the scallions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic , salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree for about 20 seconds till smooth. Add the mayo, yogurt, and buttermilk and blend till smooth. Transfer the dressing to a container and refrigerate for at least an hour till flavors blend together . Put together salad ingredients and pour dressing on it. So delish! Great with protein on it, and this salad dressing would make a great dip for raw veggies! I love this dressing, we ate it 3 nights in a row!

Traditional Ashkenazi Charoset–Apple/Walnut

DSCN2703This is my easiest Charoset. It’s traditional in the sense that it’s an Ashkenazi (Eastern European) recipe. I add a little brown sugar instead of white sugar and it gives it just a bit more character. This makes about 4 cups, but you can easily double it. My family loves it, so I always make a double batch. Remember, while a reminder of the mortar used in making bricks for Pharaoh, charoset is really just a sweet condiment of apples and wine!

Ingredients:

3 medium Fuji apples (or any other kind you like), peeled, cored and finely diced (use processor to make your life simpler) I usually use whatever is in the house, but on Passover I go through so many apples, so buy what you like (I always like Granny Smith because they are nice and tart)

1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped (buy them pre-chopped)

1/2 cup sweet red wine such as Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga or just Concord Grape is fine

*20 pitted dates, chopped; or 1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

*for a bit of extra added flavor you can add 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger (optional)

Directions:

After chopping apples, stir all ingredients in a large bowl. Keep in refrigerator ’til ready to serve. Serve at room temperature. You can also pulse everything together in processor, just be very careful not to over-process. I often do this to save time. You don’t want it too fine, so just go gently with the processor if you go that route. I do it in the processor, and I know exactly how I like it to come out, so go easy with the chopping.  If it’s a little dry or too thick, you can always add more wine. I find this always tastes better after it sits and allows the wine  to really soak and ripen for 24 hours. Before serving, check for consistency and add a little more wine, if necessary.

Green Pea Soup from Bergdorf Goodman – Happy St. Patricks Day

IMG_7457IMG_7459IMG_7455 IMG_7466 IMG_7469Let’s celebrate St. Patricks Day with this delicious green soup! The first time I had this soup was downstairs in BG and I thought to myself I must re-create this delicious light soup. Low and behold along came *The Bergdorf Goodman Cookbook which included this delicious recipe.   My two favorite items to order on the BG menu are the Gotham Salad and  the Green Pea Soup and they are both right there in this wonderful little cookbook. There are many other delightful recipes in the book as well which make it a worthwhile purchase. The shocking part of this delicious soup was the addition of a sweet potato and soy sauce. I didn’t see that coming, I would have made it without either of those two items. The soy sauce adds an intense layer of flavor and the potato gives it some real texture. Blend well. I used my high-speed blender for this .

*The Bergdorf Goodman Cookbook by Laura Silverman–available through Amazon or Bergdorf Goodman

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 1/2 cups yellow onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 whole sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, if you have white pepper use it but I didn’t so I used black

3 3/4 cups chicken stock

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 lb. fresh or frozen , thawed green peas. I used one whole bag of frozen green peas.

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat parsley

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat and sauté the onion, celery, carrots, sweet potato, garlic, salt and pepper until the vegetables are tender but not brown. I let it cook down for about 1/2 hour.

Add the stock and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Stir in the peas and just blanch them for a minute.

Turn off the heat. Cool slightly, then add the parsley ( don’t omit the fresh parsley, please) Taste for Salt but I found it was just right with the 1 teaspoon.

In a blender or food processor, do it in batches ( I did it in 3) , puree all the ingredients until smooth. Serve warm!

Love the taste and enjoy all the healthy benefits!!!

*can be made vegan with vegetable stock

Spinach and Artichoke Dip – Game Day Dip

Game Day is finally here, it’s two days away. If you’re looking for a delicious dip , this is it. This recipe belongs to my daughter Jenn, she always makes it and it is always delicious. It goes perfectly with any kind of chip , or you can toast pita bread and cut into triangles. I know it’s fattening, but what the hell ? Superbowl comes but once a year right? This is a Super Snack, and if you like you can use Lite Mayo and Lite Sour Cream, just not fat free, it won’t work out well at all. This is just a great dip to make anytime of the year, and ingredients are super easy to obtain. Just make sure you squeeze out the excess water from the spinach.

Ingredients:

1 box or bag of frozen chopped spinach * (defrosted)  drained and squeezed out of all liquid, this is the most important thing here is to get the spinach as dry as possible.

1 Can Artichokes drained and coarsley chopped ( if you can buy them quartered already do so)

1 1/2 cups Mayonnaise ( Lite is fine)

3/4 cup Sour Cream ( Lite is fine)

3/4 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese (not grated)

* In order to get spinach as dry as possible, I put it in colander to defrost, or leave it out for a few hours. I then literally squeeze it out to get all the liquid out of it, you don’t want it wet, the liquid will ruin the dip. So first defrost, then drain it, then wring it out with your clean hands.

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients and put in a nice oven proof dish that you’ll want to serve it in and bake at 350 degrees till brown and bubbly , about 30 – 35 minutes.

Pasta e Fagioli ( Pasta and Bean Soup)

019I have been making this soup forever,  This is really just a tomato base soup with beans and pasta. How bad can that be? unless you hate beans and pasta that is. I usually have ingredients in the pantry and it is a wonderful warm experience, with a nice salad this is a perfect meal. I did use dried beans so I needed to soak overnight, if you want to cheat you can just use canned beans , I must admit this makes it a whole lot easier  and honestly no one knows the difference! It is a wonderful hearty soup halfway between a soup and a pasta no matter how you do the beans!

Enjoy this amazingly delicious comforting soup.

Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes ( San Marzano)

10 – 12 fresh basil leaves

red pepper flakes

handful of italian parsley, chopped

5 – 6 cups cooked beans and their liquid ( I use cannellini beans usually) any type of bean will work I use Cannellini or Red Kidney beans and a combination of both is beautiful.* feel free to use canned if you don’t have time to cook the beans. ( 2 cans rinsed and drained) the canned beans work out perfectly and it’s a very quick and easy way to go. You can easily use 2 cans of cannellini beans here or red kidney beans. Just drain and rinse and add them in –this makes it a whole lot easier

5 cups water

app. 1 cup pasta, elbows, tubetti, ditalini, or broken spaghetti

salt and freshly ground black pepper ( I probably used about 1Tablespoon of Kosher Salt but you’ll have to taste for yourself , start with a Tablespoon and use more as needed) Pepper I just add in a few grinds of the pepper mill ( about 12) and taste , taste , taste!

Directions:

In a large , heavy stockpot ( Le Creuset) saute onion in olive oil. When onion is golden and transparent, add garlic. Cook for a few more minutes. Add tomatoes and herbs. Cook until the tomatoes begin to thicken and reduce, about 10 minutes.  Taste for salt.

Add the beans and their cooking liquid. (* see notes on cooking beans) Add the water. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes – until the beans begin to break down and the soup begins to thicken. Lower heat to a slow simmer, as low as you can.  Stir frequently to prevent it from sticking and burning bottom of the pot. Taste for salt and pepper again.  I always like it to simmer for a long time, an hour would probably do it, but if I have the time I let it sit for as long as I can.  Sometimes after it’s been simmering for a while ,  I turn off the heat and right before serving just bring to a boil and add pasta. Just be careful not to let it burn, stir frequently . If you need more liquid add water a little at a time, I showed a picture of my pot filler which is the greatest thing to have in a kitchen, makes it super easy to fill a pot.

When you’re ready to serve, right before add the pasta and cook until pasta is al dente, about 5 – 10 minutes depending on type of pasta you’re using. I used ditalini.

Serve immediately in large soup bowls.

Guests can drizzle some good olive oil and grate some Parmesan Cheese over.  Should serve 8 – 10 depending on appetites. I froze remainder for another time.

*Cooking dried Beans:

Place the beans in a bowl and cover with water – about 2″ – 3″ above the beans. Soak overnight.

Rinse and drain the beans, remove any stones, foreign matter, or beans that have not expanded.

Place the beans in a heavy pot and cover with water – about 2″ above the beans.

Bring the beans to a boil. Turn down heat, cover and cook at a very low simmer. Do not allow beans to boil hard. The beans should retain their shape. Cook until beans are tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of beans and how fresh they are. Plan on cooking for 2 to 3 hours.

The beans will now be ready to be used for any recipe calling for cooked beans.

If you don’t have time to soak or you just forgot, you can place beans in the pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, cover and let stand for 1 hour, and then proceed with the rest of the directions.

Cremini Mushroom Pumpkin Lasagna – Seasonal and Savory for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Roux

My daughter, Kerri, has been a vegetarian (not vegan) since she was about twelve. It is always a challenge, especially on holidays, to make delicious and savory food for her to choose from that she will like. While she loves all the sides, I wanted to give her something that would always be on our table and be a tradition for her. She’s not a huge mushroom eater which is why I use cremini. They are somehow less “mushroomy” for her, and she hates anything like “fake meat.” This lasagna is sort of my own concoction. There are a lot of recipes out there, but I find this one works for me. I also need to explain a basic Bechamel (white) sauce or Roux which is at the heart of this recipe.  It consists of butter, flour, salt, pepper, and milk.  Sometimes it takes nutmeg; and in this recipe I add pumpkin, but the 5 basic ingredients are always present in various amounts, depending on the recipe.  This lasagna is always on our Thanksgiving table. And even the meat eaters enjoy it! All that being said, this is not an “easy peasy” recipe. It has a lot of moving parts, but it’s so worth the effort, as all lasagnas are. Everyone who’s ever made a lasagna and starts with their own sauce, knows how much work goes into it, but it’s so worth it–especially for your family and friends.

* I usually make this early in the week and then cook and refrigerate it. It tastes better like that anyway. Then, I heat it up before serving, which usually takes another 45 minutes on top of what the recipe calls for. I always remove from refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before heating it up. It can also certainly be frozen, as any lasagna can be. I’m a big fan of freezing the leftovers.

Ingredients:

2 boxes of no-boil lasagna noodles (You need about 18 sheets of noodles and I don’t like them all broken so I like to start out with as many as possible. It’s okay if they are broken though. No harm.)

1 1/2 lbs. cremini mushrooms, chopped roughly

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (If you don’t want to use this, you don’t have to. It’s for sauteing the mushrooms, which you can also do using olive oil.)

Bechamel Sauce (Roux):

8 tablespoons (1 stick ) unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon nutmeg (you can use whole or grated)

4 cups whole milk

1 1/2  – 2 cans pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)–I like the organic one and I usually end up putting both cans in because what am I going to do with half a can anyway?

*1 tablespoon minced fresh sage ( optional)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the white sauce (Bechamel/Roux,) bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan (not a full on boil.) Then, set aside the hot milk. Melt the stick of butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and sage if you’re adding it, and continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring all the while. I start with a wooden spoon and as it thickens (about 5 minutes,) I switch to a whisk, until it is thick. Then I add the pumpkin and continue stirring but at this point, turn off the flame and remove from heat. Set aside off the heat.

Roughly chop up mushrooms. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with a little kosher salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and release their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. (Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly and remember that cremini cook pretty quickly.) Repeat with the remaining mushrooms, then set all the mushrooms aside in a bowl.

Lasagna Assembly:

To assemble the lasagna, spray a nice, deep 8 x 12  baking dish, then spread some of the bechamel/pumpkin sauce in the bottom of baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top of this. (No-boil noodles are not soft so it might feel strange to lay them down but just put them down, usually 3 to a layer. No need to overlap because they grow as you cook.) Then add 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese. Then, begin to alternate. Start with another layer of noodles with Bechamel /Pumpkin Sauce on top; then noodles with mushroom and parmesan cheese; noodles with pumpkin/bechamel sauce; noodles with mushroom and parmesan cheese. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan Cheese. Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes .

This recipe includes about 6 layers of noodles total, which is about 18 lasagna noodles.

Thanksgiving Corn Bread Pudding

My friend Audrey gave this to me many years ago, and it has become a staple on our thanksgiving table ever since. It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it. It is a favorite in the Kolen household. Can be doubled easily.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter (unsalted) 1 stick

8 oz. sour cream (lite ok but not fat-free)

8 oz.  can sweet corn (drained)

8 oz. can creamed corn

8 oz. pkg. corn muffin mix

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter, mix in beaten eggs, then add the rest of the ingredients.

Pour into glass baking dish (Pyrex is good and I spray it first.) 9 x 12 works fine, it’s not a very deep pudding.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Karyn’s Cranberry Crisp- Thanksgiving

Fully Cooked Cranberry Crisp

This recipe has been around pretty much my whole married life. If there is a turkey on the table, there is cranberry crisp next to it.  It originated from my friend Karyn, and we even make it for Passover with matzoh farfel.  It’s so sweet and delicious that it could really be a dessert. We love it with our meal; love the sweet and savory thing. You can’t eat too much of it, it is so rich. It is also very dangerous to have in the fridge the next day, so try to give it to everyone who wants to take home leftovers. This tastes good either hot out of the oven or at room temperature. Some people may even want to make it as dessert and serve with vanilla ice cream, but the Kolens don’t. We always serve it as a side dish, but it is awesome however you serve it. Thanks again, Karyn.

Ingredients:

*you def want to double this recipe

4 medium apples ( I use all different kinds)

1 can (1 lb.) whole cranberry sauce

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup uncooked quick rolled oats

1/2 cup flour

1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup unsalted butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 9×13 baking dish with Pam.

Peel apples, slice them, then arrange in baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Spoon cranberry sauce over the apples.

Separately, stir rolled oats, flour, and brown sugar together. Cut in butter until it’s mixed in and crumbly. Sprinkle this over cranberry layer. Bake at 350 degrees until apples are cooked and top is lightly browned. The entire mixture will be bubbling and your house will smell divine. You will bake about 40 minutes to an hour. You can make ahead of time, and then on the day you need it, just heat it up until it bubbles. I usually make this a few days ahead, because it’s that much less that I’ll have to do the day of. You can freeze this also, so make it way ahead and freeze it. If you freeze it, take it out a day before you need it, and then heat it up the day of. 350 degrees with foil for first 30 minutes and then uncover for 10 or so minutes.

*Hint — the butter is easier to fold into to the oats if it’s melted, so that’s what we do . Then use your clean hands to squish it together. It is easier to work with this way. If you d0 it the other way , it’s OK, it will all come out the same,  just easier to melt first, sorry I didn’t suggest that from the get go.

Enjoy!

Roasted Potatoes with Mustard and Onions

I saw this on the Barefoot Contessa TV show and thought this would be so tasty. It was! I made it with chicken and steak, but honestly this would be great alongside any dish. Very easy and pretty perfect. This was how I prepared it. It served 6 very well, and it could probably serve 8 – 10 as a side dish. A perfect dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas or any dinner party.

Ingredients:

2 – 2 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes

2 medium size yellow onions

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

Kosher Salt – about 2 teaspoons

Freshly Ground Black Pepper – a few good grinds of the pepper mill

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the potatoes in quarters, and then I cut them again, I found they crisped up better smaller.  Place on a very large sheet pan, do not crowd. I actually used two baking sheets for this amount of potatoes.  Remove the ends of the onions, peel them, and cut them in half, slice them crosswise in app. 1/4 ” slices to make half rounds. Toss the onions and potatoes on the sheet pan. ( I also sprayed pans generously with Pam cooking spray)

In a separate bowl, with a wire whisk mix the mustard and the olive oil, and pour over potatoes. With clean hands I mixed up everything on sheet pan, then sprinkled 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper on the potatoes and mixed again.  I baked for about an hour at 400, or until the potatoes were lightly browned on the outside and tender on the inside. I prefer a little crispy, do them however you like. I tossed a few times with a metal spatula during cooking process.

Taste for salt, and you can always add more salt at the end.