Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ground Turkey and Zucchini Pasta

This is one of the staples and quick dishes that we like to make when we’re pressed for time. Before I started exploring different recipes, we had a pasta night at least once a week. It was something simple and easy that even Gary could make. It was great for when I had to work late or when we just didn’t feel like cooking.

I had some zucchini left over, so I added that into the pasta. I don’t think I’ve ever made anything with zucchini before. I don’t think it tastes like much though. I guess that’s why it’s used in brownies and bread.

ground turkey pasta

Ground Turkey and Zucchini Pasta

olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 zucchini, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 lb whole wheat pasta
salt & pepper to taste
1 jar spaghetti sauce (or homemade)

1. In a big pot of water, boil the pasta in salted water as directed on the package. Drain the pasta.

2. Meanwhile, heat up a pan on medium high heat. Add olive oil, onion, garlic and zucchini. Sauté until onion is clear, about 5 minutes.

3. Add ground turkey and brown until cooked thoroughly. Add s&p to taste. Add the sauce, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the pasta. Plate and serve.

Makes enough for 2 plus leftovers (based on what Gary eats!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Beef and Tofu Stir-Fry

Let me start off by saying that this picture doesn’t look very appetizing, but it does taste good. I hate it when something tastes so good, but looks so disgusting. Well, don’t let the picture fool you. This is a great way to use up tofu.

The recipe called for firm tofu, but I had some silken tofu I needed to use up so I used that. I recommend using the firm tofu so it keeps it’s shape better.

beef tofu

Beef and Tofu Stir Fry
Adapted from: Martin Yan Quick and Easy

1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 Tbsp cornstarch

3/4 lb flank steak (I cut into slices)

1/3 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp chili garlic sauce

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp minced ginger
1/2 onion, chopped
1 (14oz) package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2" cubes (I used silken tofu)
1 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tsp water

1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl, add beef and stir to coat evenly. Let stand for 10 minutes.

2. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

3. Heat a stir fry pan or wok on high heat. Add the oil, swirl to coat the sides. Add ginger and onion, cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beef and stir fry until it is no longer pink in the center, about 2 minutes. Add the tofu and sauce and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the cornstarch solution and cook, stir until the sauce thickens, about 20 seconds.

3. Transfer to plate and serve. We ate this over rice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Vegan Eggplant and Spinach Lasagna

One of the dishes I used to make all the time with dairy was lasagna. Gary would be able to eat probably half the pan in one sitting. His portions have gotten better now. He can still almost eat half the pan, but he can’t have the dairy anymore. When I saw this eggplant spinach lasagna, I knew I had to try it, especially since I had all the ingredients on hand.

This turned out great. Using tofu instead of ricotta makes this dish lighter and much healthier than a lasagna with meat and cheese. It almost makes it ok that Gary eats half the pan…*almost*.

vegan lasagna

Vegan Eggplant and Spinach Lasagna
Adapted from: Go Dairy Free

12 ounces lasagna noodles (9 noodles. I used the leftovers from previous boxes of noodles.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-size eggplant, peeled and chopped (I used 2 Chinese eggplant)
3 cups tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought (I used the whole can of 26oz Hunts tomato sauce)
2 16-oz packages firm tofu, drained and crumbled (I used 2 packages of Mori Nu firm tofu – 12.3 oz each)
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, cooked according to package directions and well drained (I used frozen leaf spinach)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the noodles and spread out on a work surface to keep them from sticking together. (I found it helpful to rinse with cold water, so it’s easier to handle. Place 3 noodles on a paper towel, layer with another paper towel, repeat to separate the noodles. You can also use a clean kitchen towel.)

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the tofu and the spinach, blending well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

4. Spread a thin layer of the sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Add a layer of noodles and top with half of the tofu mixture, spreading it out evenly. Top with another layer of noodles, a layer of sauce, and the remaining tofu mixture. Finish with a layer of noodles and the remaining sauce.

5. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the vegan cheese, if using. Continue to bake until hot and bubbly, about 15 minutes more. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

eggplant lasagna

I didn’t use the cheese. I covered and baked uninterrupted for about 42 minutes. This was a great alternative to meat and cheese lasagnas.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easy Salmon Patties

I first made salmon patties a while back, long before I ever even thought about blogging. I made them because before we started cooking religiously, Gary would buy canned salmon and eat it right out of the can. I tried it, and it was enough to make me gag. I don’t know how he can eat it like that. When he insists he wants to eat that, I insist I make something from it instead of eating it plain.

I first came across this recipe a couple of years ago. I made it as stated in the recipe, except I used bread crumbs instead of the slice of bread.

This time, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I didn’t have anymore eggs(!), I used panko, and I also didn’t use the flour to bind it. I decided not to use the salt and pepper either, because I didn’t think it needed anymore salt.

salmon patties

Easy Salmon Patties
Loosely adapted from:

1 (14.75 oz) can salmon, drained and flaked
1 small onion, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten (I didn’t use because I was out)
1/2 cup panko
cooking oil
s&p to taste (I didn’t use)

1. Heat a pan on high heat.

2. Combine drained salmon, onion, panko, and egg. Mix well to combine. Separate into 4 sections. Shape and mold into patties.

3. Add a thin layer of oil to the pan. Place patties in oil, cook for about 4-5 min on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve.

I didn’t have anymore eggs on hand, so I omitted and packed the patties tightly. I only flipped them once, so it didn’t fall apart. We ate this with mixed veggies and rice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shrimp Scampi

When our diet consists of chicken, chicken, and more chicken (ugh!), there’s a limit to my creativity. Once in a while we’ll have beef, we don’t eat pork, so this limits our diet somewhat. We were in a rut, so we decide to have some shrimp instead. I’ve had shrimp scampi in the back of my mind for a while, and this recipe was pretty easy and quick.

I (meaning Gary) messed up while making this. I don’t think it altered the flavor too much though. I asked Gary how much butter I needed, and he told me 4 Tbsp. So, instead of dividing up the 4 Tbsp into 2 sections, I ended up sautéing the shrimp in the butter, then adding only the 4 Tbsp olive oil only when it called for butter and olive oil again.

This was a pretty quick and tasty meal. I think the hardest part of the whole thing was peeling the shrimp.

shrimp scampi

 Shrimp Scampi
Adapted from: Tyler Florence/Food Network

1 pound linguini (I used thin spaghetti)
4 tablespoons butter, divided (I used margarine)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
1 large shallot, finely diced (I used 1 tsp dried)
5 cloves garlic, sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
20 large shrimp, about 1 pound, peeled and deveined, tail on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves (I used about a Tbsp dried)


For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to the boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the linguini. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.

Sauté the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm.

Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil.

Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta and reserved pasta water.

Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Chicken and Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers

I’ve seen a bunch of recipes around lately for stuffed bell peppers. All of it called for ingredients I didn’t have on hand, or did not eat. I had some chicken breast to use up, so I searched for a chicken stuffed pepper. Nothing really appealed to me. I decided to try to wing it and see what happened.

I kept it dairy free and it had a nice kick to it. When I originally thought this up, I wanted to add tomatoes, or tomato sauce, but unfortunately, I didn’t have tomatoes, and my can of tomatoes was already expired (argh!). I made it without it and it still turned out great. I used my leftover bell peppers, which was 3 green ones, one red, one orange. I recommend using the red/orange/yellow ones because they came out more tender and was sweeter than the green ones.

stuffed peppers

Chicken and Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers

3/4 lb ground chicken
6 bell peppers (I recommend using red, orange, or yellow)
cooking spray
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup chopped baby portabella mushrooms
2 cups cooked rice

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Trim fat from the chicken. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Place in food processor and pulse a few times to grind up the chicken. Clean and cut tops from peppers and remove seeds. Spray cooking oil on a 8x8 baking dish. Place peppers in dish.

3. In a large sauté pan, add oil and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes, or until garlic is fragrant. Add onion, celery, and carrot. Cook until onion is clear, approx. 10 min.

4. Add the ground chicken, cook until no longer pink in the middle. Add spices, chicken broth and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Add in the rice, combine well.

5. Spoon the filling into the bell peppers. Cover loosely with foil and bake in oven for 30-40 minutes, or until peppers are fork tender. Allow to rest for a few minutes and serve.

stuffed peppers

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dairy Free Mac and Cheese

One of Gary’s favorite’s is mac and cheese. Since he can’t have dairy anymore, this is one of the foods he has missed. I found lots of recipes for melty cheese sauces, but this one seemed fairly simple to follow, and I had most of the ingredients on hand.

I found it very tasty for dairy free. Though it didn’t taste as rich as real mac and cheese would be, but I find that a good thing. I don’t like feeling yucky after I eat. Gary loved this because his guilty food was no longer so guilty! This reheated very well. I thought it tasted better the next day.

I added broccoli to this recipe to add more greens. I also used the full box of tofu so I wouldn’t have any leftovers. Since the whole box of tofu, I ended up adding 1.25x the amount of ingredients of recipe. The original recipe was vegan, but I used chicken broth to de-veganize it. Obviously, don’t do that if you want to keep it vegan.


Dairy Free Mac and Cheese
Adapted from: Branny Boils Over, originally from Veganomicon


Cheesy Sauce: *I used heaping measurements
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken stock)
1/4 cup AP flour*
1 Tbsp olive oil*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt*
freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp turmeric*
3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes*
1 Tbsp lemon juice*
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard* (I used spicy brown mustard)

1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I used shells)
1/2 pound extra firm tofu (I used the entire 12.3 oz of Mori-Nu)
1/2 tsp salt*
1/2 Tbsp olive oil*
1 Tbsp lemon juice*
1 head broccoli florets

Boil pasta as directed on box, adding broccoli in the last 5 minutes of boiling.

Preheat oven to 325°.

Crumble tofu into an 8×8 inch baking dish until it resembles ricotta cheese. Add salt, olive oil, lemon juice, and stir.

Prepare the cheese sauce:
In a bowl combine the broth and the flour, whisking to dissolve the flour.

Preheat a small sauce pan over medium heat add oil and gently sauté the minced garlic for about 2 minutes. Add thyme, s&p, and cook a few seconds longer.

Add broth, turmeric, and nutritional yeast. Slightly increase heat and whisk constantly, about 3 minutes.

The mixture will begin to bubble and thicken. After about 2 minutes, add the mustard and lemon juice. Now the mixture should resemble melty cheese. If it does not, continue to simmer.

Combine pasta:
Add 1/4 cup of the cheese sauce to the tofu and stir. Add pasta to the tofu, reserve 1/2 cup of the cheese sauce and add the rest to the tofu+macaroni mixture. Stir well. Top with remaining sauce. (I found it easier to combine everything in the pot, transfer to the dish, then top with remaining sauce.)

Bake for 30 minutes. Allow the baked macaroni and cheese to rest outside of the oven before serving (about 10 minutes).

mac n cheese

This was great for a first timer using nutritional yeast. I’m going to experiment with other cheese sauces to see which one we like better.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chip Streusel

Every so often, I get a hold of some ripe bananas from work. I take them home, and in turn, I bring something yummy to work. I search my reader for something that used bananas, and I found this recipe on Cara’s Cravings.

This recipe turned out great. I reduced the amount of sugar in both the streusel and the cake. I can’t imagine using the full amount of sugar in this! I also substituted with plain yogurt instead of using buttermilk. The cake came out moist and super chocolaty. I had rave reviews from my coworkers.

banana coffee cake

Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chip Streusel
Adapted from: Cara’s Cravings, originally from

For the streusel:
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (about 8 ounces) 
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 1/3 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 large)
3 tablespoons buttermilk (I used plain yogurt)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan. (I just sprayed with oil)

Stir chocolate chips, brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon in small bowl until well blended; set streusel aside. Sift all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar, room temperature butter, and egg in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in mashed bananas and buttermilk. Add dry ingredients and blend well.

Spread half of batter (about 2 cups) in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with half of streusel. Repeat with remaining batter and streusel. Bake coffee cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool coffee cake in pan on rack.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dairy Free Strawberry Ice Cream

This recipe was so easy to make, and it was tasty too! I’ve always liked fruit sorbets and ice creams over chocolate or thick and creamy ice creams. This one is definitely the winner of the homemade non dairy frozen desserts so far! It has a great creamy, easy to scoop texture. It freezes very well and does not crystallize too much.

strawberry ice cream

Dairy Free Strawberry Ice Cream
Adapted from:

2 cups plain unsweetened soymilk, divided (I used Silk soy creamer)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2/3 cup honey
2 cups strawberries, either fresh or frozen (thawed, if frozen)

In a blender, combine 1 cup of the soymilk and the xanthan gum, pulsing for about one minute until the mixture is thick. Add the remaining 1 cup soymilk and the honey, blending until combined. Add the strawberries, blend until smooth.

At this point, if you’re using an ice cream maker, freeze per your ice cream maker’s instructions.

If you do not have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a flat nonstick metal pan and place it in the freezer for one hour.

After an hour, return the mixture to the blender and process until creamy. Return to the pan and place in the freezer for another hour. Repeat this once more, then return the pan to the freezer for at least 2 hours to overnight before enjoying.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

I’m used to eating veggie burgers, I’ve done so for many years. However, I’ve never tried to make my own. I’ve always bought the packaged frozen burgers and ate them at my leisure. It wasn’t until I saw the recipe on that I saw how easy it was to make these.

After I made it and took a bite, I thought to myself, I like this, but I’m not sure if Gary will. To my surprise, he liked it also! When I told him I was making this for dinner, of course he responded, “What, no meat?”.

I had a few alterations to this recipe. Instead of onion, I used dried shallots because I had none on hand. I used the whole bell pepper, added a carrot, added celery, used cayenne instead of hot sauce, and added extra panko. It came out wonderful. We don’t normally eat spicy food, and this wasn’t spicy at all. It had the nice kick to it without it being overpowering.

black bean burger

Black Bean Veggie Burgers
Adapted from:

1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and cut into pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges (I didn’t have on hand. I used 1 tsp dried shallots)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)

1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.

2. In a food processor, grind up the black beans until thick and pasty. Transfer to a medium bowl.

3. Add the pepper, carrot, celery, onion and garlic into the processor and finely chop. Add the beans back in and pulse until combined. Transfer back to the bowl.

4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper.

5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.

6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.
(I grilled this on my George Foreman grill for 5 minutes.)

Serve as you would beef burgers with all the fixings. We’re sort of minimalists with our burgers (meaning we didn’t have anything). We ate them on whole wheat pita bread with ketchup.