Category Archives: Entrée

Hekka

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To this day, I still get excited when my mom pulls out the wok.  When the wok comes out, I know to expect something good for dinner.  My favorite thing she would make (and still makes when I come home) was Hekka.  Hekka is a Japanese Hawaiian stir fry.  Mom used to make it with strips of steak.  Now she veganizes it for me.  We  just nix the steak and feast on the awesome veggies.  I add portobello mushrooms to help mimic the meatiness.  So here is how to make the best stir fry (and one of my favorite meals) in the world. And psst, don’t tell anyone but it is REALLY healthy!

Hekka:

  • Broccoli
  • Napa Cabbage (cut into strips)
  • Matchstick Carrots
  • Shitaki Mushrooms
  • Portobello Mushrooms (cut in strips like steak)
  • Spinach
  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Shōyu or Tamari
  • Corn Starch

In a wok with oil stir fry veggies.  Add broccoli and spinach last, so they don’t over cook.  When thickening and to season, make a slurry of  Shōyu or Tamari with the cornstarch in order to add to stir fry.

Serve over Steamed Jasmine Rice.  Asian Cucumber Salad makes a great starter to this meal.
 
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Spaghetti Squash with Chunky Homemade Al Fresco Tomato Sauce

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Today, I decided to give cooking spaghetti squash a try, and it turned out marvelous!  I also had on hand some beautiful fresh tomatoes out of my friend Vivica’s garden.  (Thanks Vivica and Sasha!)

Preheat Oven to 375 F.  Get big @$& knife (or hatchet or whatever means necessary).  Cut (or hack)spaghetti squash in half length wise.  This process takes serious muscles, perseverance, and a good knife.  Scoop out seeds and stringy stuff and discard.  (Think similar to a pumpkin.)  Put halves on sheet pan, cut side up.  Dollop tablespoon of Earth Balance in each half.  Salt and Pepper each half.  Bake for about an hour.

While spaghetti squash is baking get out large skillet.  Use a garlic press to press about 4 cloves of garlic (peeling cloves first, of course).  Cut up a lot of fresh tomatoes (I think I used about 8 to 10 medium sized ones).  In heated large skillet add canola oil, pressed garlic, fresh tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.  I did not measure.  I just added seasoning until it tasted right.  Simmer chunky tomato concoction until tomatoes break down.  I cooked mine on low to 2 or 3 simmering until the spaghetti squash was done, which gave it plenty of time for the water to cook out and the flavors to fuse.  (This sauce would be wonderful to add some fresh basil to toward the end of the cooking process.)

Once the spaghetti squash is done baking use oven gloves to remove pan, and so you can hold onto the squash halves.  Use fork to gently string the spaghetti squash from the peel, incorporating the Earth Balance, salt and pepper.  Divide spaghetti squash into  2 bowls.  Spoon on sauce.  Voila!  Serve.  This is great with a glass of red wine.

For kids (and picky husbands), I would recommend boiling up some whole grain pasta in salted water.  Give them a mix of half pasta and half spaghetti squash with the above sauce.  Chris and I both ate this sans pasta and it was lovely and flavorful.

15 Bean Soup with Savory with Savory Corn Bread

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Just under a week ago, friends of mine Jacki and Mike welcomed to their family a newborn baby boy, Eli.  I am taking them dinner, tonight.  Menu:  15 Bean Soup, Rice, and Cornbread, and for dessert Oatmeal Cookies.

15 Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • Bag of Hurst’s HamBeens 15 Bean Soup
  • 1 can of 14.5 oz organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • Fake Ham Seasoning that comes in the Bag
  • A dash or two of Liquid Smoke
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Celery
  • Vegetable Better than Boullion
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Place Dry Beans in a large pot.  Cover with 2 quarts of water.  Allow beans to soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.  In other words, put the beans in the pot.  FIll with water cover with a lid.  Leave it on the counter while you sleep.
When you wake up:
In a blender put onion, garlic, celery, and 4 tsps of better than bouillon dissolved in 4 cups of water.  Puree.  Drain water from beans that you soaked over night.  Dump beans into crock pot, which is set on high.  Add pureed mixture.  Add can of tomatoes, cayenne pepper, fake ham seasoning, juice of lemon, liquid smoke, salt and pepper.  Stir.  Cook on High in Crock Pot for 4 to 5 hours (or until beans are tender).  Turn crock pot to warm until ready to eat.  You could also do them on low for 8 or 9 hours.  Stir occasionally and check to make sure you have enough salt and pepper.
Serve over rice with a side of savory cornbread.

White Rice:

  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 tbsps. of Earth Balance (Vegan Butter)
  • Salt

Put all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  (Make sure your bowl leaves enough room for rice to expand.) Leave uncovered.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Then microwave for 17 minutes on 1/2 power.  Fluff with fork.  Then serve.  Serves 2.  This recipe might serve more in your family, but in our family this serves 2 ;o)

Savory Corn Bread
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg worth of Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray a 9 inch round pan OR a muffin pan that can hold 6 large muffins) In large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder.  Stir in wet ingredients (egg replacer, almond milk, and vegetable oil).  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  You will know when it is done when you stick a toothpick (or knife) in, and when you pull it out it comes out clean.

A Happy Accident, which I am calling Pizzadillas

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Last night we were going to make pizza, but when we went to open the pre made crust it was already moldy.  Instead a new creation was birthed.  This dish can be made in many ways.  It has a choose your own adventure feel.  So feel free to adapt this recipe and be creative.  When we realized the pizza crust was out, we opted for whole grain wraps that we had on hand, and this easy yet yummy creation emerged.

  • Vegan ground sausage
  • Fresh Spinach
  • Fresh Mushrooms (sliced)
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Vegan Mozzarella
  • Whole Grain Wrap

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Sauté sausage in a pan (according to instructions).  On a baking sheet place a whole grain wrap.  Spread pizza sauce on half the wrap.  Add toppings:  sautéed sausage, spinach, mushrooms and vegan cheese.  Fold over wrap like a soft taco/quesadilla.  Use toothpicks to hold together if necessary.  Put in oven for 10 minutes.  And Voila you have a scrumptious yet healthy dinner.  The wraps crisp up nicely and act as a great canvas for your favorite pizza toppings.

 

Bistecca all Pizzaiola (“Steak” with tomatoes and garlic)

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A few years back my husband and I went to share a romantic dinner in a restaurant in Ocala, FL called Felix’s.  As you walk into the first floor of this beautiful old home, the lights are dimmed.  There is a very old world feel.  This place was one of those places that still served table side Banana’s Foster.  One of their specials that night was Bistecca all Pizzaiola. Bistecca all Pizzaiola is simply a really flavorful cut of steak with a chunky tomato and garlic sauce.  This recipe is inspired from that.  Chris and I made this last night.  Did not manage to get pics this time.  I just could not wait to dig in, and it surely did not disappoint.
Ingredients:
  • Vegan Steak Strips
  • Olive Oil (or grape seed oil)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cans of tomatoes
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
Directions:
For the Pizzaiola:  Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Remove from heat and add the cloves of garlic.  Cook for about 30 to 45 seconds.  You are infusing the olive oil with the garlic.  At this point you can opt to leave the garlic in or remove the garlic.  I choose to remove it because I love the flavor of garlic but not the texture.  Now add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper.  Return to medium heat and cook down for about 5 minutes.  Put pizzaiola in bowl in warming drawer.
In same skillet heat a little more olive oil to medium heat.  Add vegan steak strips.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Brown steak strips.  This takes about 3 minutes.    Plate the steak strips with Pizzaiola drizzled on top.
This meal is really good served with Haricots Verts with Pizzaiola added on top of these French Style Green Beans and served with oven roasted Italian style potatoes.  See my other recipes.

Fritto Misto with Vibrant Mustard Dipping Sauce

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The first time I remember encountering and falling in love with Fritto Misto, I (as a college student) was sitting in a Venetian cafe on the Grand Canal, in view of the Rialto Bridge with my mom and dad.  It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies.  We were there celebrating Mother’s Day, watching the gondolas and water taxis pass by.  Then it was a heaping plate of beautifully fried seafood.  It was one of the best meals of my life.  I have had it since then, but none quite as good.  Tonight, my husband and I decided to try it out at home.  Instead of frying a mix of seafood, we decided to to a vegetable Fritto Misto.  This recipe would work with any mix of vegetables.  We did zucchini, carrots, and potatoes.  We took an Emeril Lagasse recipe and veganized it.

Batter:

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 3 eggs worth of Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • Water (for thinning out the batter)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Canola Oil for Frying
Mix first 3 ingredients together; add water to thin till good batter consistency.  Season batter with salt and pepper.
Vegetables:
  • zucchini
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • summer squash
  • or whatever vegetable you want

Heat Canola Oil to 350 degrees.  Once oil is hot dredge vegetables through batter and gingerly drop in the oil.  Fry till golden brown.  When you pull them out of the fryer.  Place them onto of a plate with a paper towel to drain grease.  Sprinkle with salt.  Serve immediately.  If you want, you can put them in a warming drawer until you have fried up all the veggies.

Dipping Sauce: 

  • Yellow Mustard
  • Creole Mustard
  • and a touch of vinegar
Whisk together and serve.
Marinara also makes a nice dipping sauce for Fritto Misto.

Tetrazzini

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Company is coming.  So, what do you do?  Serve them tetrazzini.  My best friend and goddaughter came for a visit recently, and this is what I served them.

Today’s recipe is rooted in my childhood.  I loved whenever we would have company over because it meant there was a good chance of getting tetrazinni.  Mom usually made it with chicken or turkey.  A while back I figured out how to make it with baby portobellos, instead.  I served the portobello version to my Board for Grace Works Studio and it was a big success.  Now, I have taken it one step further and veganized it.  This is a wonderful meal for company because you can make it all up ahead of time and then just have to throw it in the oven.  If you serve it with a nice salad, it means you can hang out with your company and not be stuck in the kitchen the whole time.  Mom would do a whole loaf of garlic bread, too.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance (Vegan butter)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or soy milk would work)
  • 2 cups vegan sour cream (16 oz)
  • 2 tsps. of better than bouillon vegetable base
  • 1/3 cup of white whine (optional)
  • 2/3 cup vegan Parmesan cheese
  • 2-8 oz pkg cooked spaghetti
  • 2 cups of chopped vegan chicken, like Gardein Chick’n Scallopini (optional)
  • 1 pint of sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1 cup vegan mozzarella, like Daiya

Directions:

In a large skillet, melt Earth Balance.  Blend in flour, salt, garlic and pepper, making a roux.  (When I say large I mean as big as you have — the bigger the vessel the easier to incorporate all the ingredients.)  Add almond milk, vegan sour cream and better than bouillon.  Cook stirring constantly until you have a thick and smooth sauce.  Blend in wine and 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese.  Then add cooked spaghetti, chick’n, mushrooms, and mozzarella .  Stir carefully.  Pour into large casserole dish plus one smaller one.  Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.  Bake at 3750 for 20-25 minutes until hot and bubbly.  I make this dish up the night before and just bake it longer in order to get it bubbly hot all the way through.  If you take from refrigerator and bake (CAUTION, IF IT IS NOT CORNING WARE, PUT IN OVEN BEFORE YOU PREHEAT!!!), it usually takes about an hour or a little more in order to let it cook through.  This casserole is great served with a side salad and bread or a vibrant green vegetable like broccoli, garden peas or green beans.