Wednesday, November 27, 2013


When the weather starts getting chilly, we spend some of our evenings cozied up inside catching up on PVR'd TV shows or movies that we've been wanting to see. Of course, that requires snacks. Well, maybe not "requires" but seems like as good an excuse as any.

Nachos are a favourite around here. They are so versatile you can put whatever you like on top. Most ingredients are already in the house anyway, so a plate can be made up pretty much anytime. I usually go with onions, peppers, black beans, jalapenos, cheese - pretty standard, but oh, so tasty. Sometimes, I'll do some vegetarian ground "beef"  with taco seasoning and scatter that on top as well.

And nachos have to be served with salsa and guacamole. That's a given. The guacamole that we like is from The Barefoot ContessaIt's pretty straightforward and pretty delicious. There are always arguments about whether tomatoes go into guac or not, but we're far from Mexican authentic, so we go with tomatoes.

Add a margarita - another favourite - tart and tangy it goes perfectly and we're good for the night. Now, what to watch? Have you seen any good movies lately?


2 ripe Haas avocados
1½ tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half of a large-ish lemon)
4 dashes of hot pepper sauce 
¼ cup small-diced red onion
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 small tomato, seeded and small-diced

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits and scoop the flesh out of the shell into a large bowl. Immediately add the lemon juice and toss. (this keeps the avocados from turning brown). Add in the rest of the ingredients, except tomatoes and toss well. Using a sharp kife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced. Add the tomatoes. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper, adjusting if needed. 

Makes approx. 1½ cups

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Greek Shepherd's Pie

Everyone loves shepherd's pie, don't they? It's also a super easy dish to make vegetarian. For a traditional type pie, most people will have the ingredients on hand already, it's not difficult to throw together, and is one of those wonderfully comforting dishes.

Then, there are interesting twists on shepherd's pie. This is one of my favourites. It comes from Looneyspoons. It's Greek-inspired and delicious!

The pretty coloured layers in this hearty pie are as appetizing as the taste. Yves Veggie Ground Round takes the place of ground beef for the crust and layers of tomatoes, spinach & cheese are topped with mashed potatoes.

I like the potatoes when they're a little browned and crispy. Turning on the broiler for a few minutes at the end of the cooking time accomplishes that nicely.  Just to amp things up on this batch, I decided to use up a couple of Daiya cheddar slices that I had. You could also use the shreds, but this is what I had in the fridge. 

I just chopped up the slices and added them to the potatoes while I was mashing them. They were still hot, so it melted the Daiya right in. Yummy! Or if you prefer, Opa! 

Greek Shepherd's Pie (based on Shepherdopoulos Pie by Janet & Greta Podleski)

4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
½ tsp. salt
2 slices of Daiya cheddar style, chopped into ½-inch sized pieces, ¼ cup Daiya cheddar style shreds, or            ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup milk 
1 pkg. Yves Original Veggie Ground Round
¼ cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
¼ cup minced onions
1 egg white *
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
¾ tsp. dried oregano
¼ cup shredded Swiss cheese (Gouda is also nice) 
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese 
10-ounce pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry 

Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling water until tender. Drain well. Add in salt & Daiya, then mash a bit to get the Daiya melted. Add milk and mash until smooth. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine Yves Veggie Ground Round, bread crumbs, onions, egg white, ketchup, garlic and pepper. Mix well (using your hands works best). Pat this mixture over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. 

Layer tomato slices over the "crust". Sprinkle oregano over the tomatoes. Spread Swiss and feta cheeses over the tomatoes. Top cheese with chopped spinach. Spoon mashed potatoes over spinach and spread out evenly. Smooth the top and bake in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes. Let sit or 5 minutes or so before slicing into wedges. 

Makes 4-6 servings

* If you wanted to make this completely vegan, you can easily switch out the milk and cheeses for non-dairy alternatives. I haven't tried it, but I imagine ground chia seeds that were mixed with water and allowed to sit until gelatinous would probably work as the binding agent to keep the crust together. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Recipe Testing, part 2

As I mentioned,  I'm recipe testing for Dreena Burton's new book that is due out late next year, and here's another sampling of what I've made.

Zesty Raw Almond Sauce that I used to toss with some soba noodles & sautéed green onions, red peppers & snow peas.

Pumpkin Snackles

Greek Lentil and White Bean Soup with Olive & Tomato Gremolata

(Pina-Coolada, Mango Gems, Red Velvet Studs & Peachsicles)

These were really easy and really tasty. I had a few in the freezer when a mini heat wave hit us, and the fruitsicles really hit the spot.

Southwest Quinoa Salad 

Saucy BBQ Chickpeas and Green Beans

Tropical Apple Crisp

It's all looking delicious, isn't it? I think this book is going to be a smashing success. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Broccoli Love

Oh Broccoli. A lot of people seem to dislike you. Yes, you have a bit of a strong taste and coming from the cabbage family, that is to be expected I suppose. But you have so much going for you. First off, you are kind of cute - you look like little trees. And you're also very high in Vitamin C, giving us more than 100% of our daily requirement. You also boast abundant amounts of Vitamin K and Vitamin A and are a good vegetable source for calcium. You also contain anti-carcinogenic compounds, but those get significantly destroyed if you're boiled, so we like to steam, roast, microwave or stir-fry you. Mmmmm....I'm thinking some people might be starting to feel your love. 

Let's amp it up and really get them hooked on you. Lightly steamed and drizzled with some yummy sauce, what's not to love? I'm thinking you'll be having a lot more dinner dates broccoli. 

Broccoli with Orange Sesame Sauce

1 pound broccoli, cut into florets
¾ cup orange juice
1 tbsp. honey or agave 
1½ tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 4 tsp. water
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

To prepare the sauce, combine orange juice, honey and ginger in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture, whisking while returning to a boil. Cook the sauce until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice and sesame oil. 
Meanwhile, steam broccoli until tender-crisp, about 5-6 minutes. Arrange on a serving platter, pour sauce over broccoli and sprinkle with sesame seeds.