Thursday, September 30, 2010

What What? I've never posted veggie hash?

Photo courtesy of Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton's photos via Getty Images (

I can't believe I've never posted this recipe! It's one of my favorites and when I made it the other night, I was thinking how I should post it, but then I was like, no, I already did that! This is one of our very favorite quick and healthy dinners. The vegetables are variable, but there's always some kind of potatoes, onions, and greens. Here's what I used the other night, but feel free to substitute to your heart's content and your family's tastes, too! It's a great way to introduce your family to greens.

Inez's Veggie Hash

2-3 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2” cubes

1 carrot, scrubbed and sliced

1-2 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 green, yellow or red bell pepper

4 veggie breakfast “sausage” links or 1/2 package of Gimme Lean veggie sausage (optional)

1/2 - 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 - 1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon or less cayenne pepper (if you like things a little less hot, use either white or black pepper)

1 teaspoon crushed oregano

1 large bunch  greens, washed and chopped

1 small tomato or a small handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup shredded white sharp cheese

salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a non-stick frying pan, add the potatoes and carrots. Cover and cook  until they are about halfway cooked through. You may have to add a little water to the pan to get them to steam through. Then add the onions, peppers and veggie sausage, if using, and continue cooking. When the onions are translucent, add the herbs/ spices and cook for another minute or two. Cover and cook until the potatoes are pretty much cooked through and then add the greens, the tomatoes, and about a tablespoon of water. Cover and cook until the greens are cooked. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir the mixture until everything is thoroughly combined, then add the cheese, put the lid back on the pan until the cheese melts. Serve. Serves 3-4 persons.

Almost any greens work in this dish. Good ones to start with are spinach, cabbage or dinosaur kale. Arugula, spicy Chinese greens, and harder varieties of kale are also good. have fun with this one. I'd love to hear the combinations that you have used!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Look what the UPS guy brought me today!

I'm so excited to get my new Blentec blender! That's right, I finally broke down and bought something powerful enough to actually blend smoothies, salad dressings, and all that good stuff. After almost a year of striving for a raw food diet and struggling with my old food processor - really asking waaaayyy too much of it (just look at that poor sad thing in the background!), I wanted to get just the right one, but the pros and cons of Vita-Mix vs. Blendtec had me in decision paralysis for the past few months.

But then I saw this. Ignore the creepy people and skip forward to 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the video and just watch for 30 seconds. My jaw dropped. This is the new Blendtec WildSide Total blender and it not only beats the pants off the older Blendtec model, but the Vita-Mix as well. Plus, it's easier to clean, lighter and shorter so it fits under my cabinets which means I can keep it on the counter and use it every day.

So what am I going to make first? I guess I'll try my super-duper deluxe breakfast smoothie first thing in the morning and hopefully I'll save some time by a) blending faster and b) not making a mess I have to clean up!

Super Duper Banana Smoothie
1 medium banana (peeled and frozen)
1-2 tsp. greens powder (I like the cocoa flavored stuff, of course!)
1-2 tsp. mesquite powder
1-2 tsp. protein powder
1-2 tsp. raw carob powder
2 c. cold water (I like mine a little more fluid than most smoothies)

Optional - one of the following:
1 Tbsp. peanut or almond butter
4 or 5 frozen cherries
Blend until smooth and enjoy!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Last week I started reading Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath who also wrote another favorite of mine, Made to Stick. I originally got Switch to help me out with some major changes at work, but as soon as I started reading it, I realized I needed this book to help me make the necessary changes to my diet. the basic premise of the book is that we are all of two minds: the first, the rational/ thinking mind is like the guy driving an elephant from the top. The second, our irrational/ emotional mind is like the elephant. While the driver may know where he wants to go and may even make the elephant go that way for a while, that elephant is so big, it'll go where ever the heck it pleases. I can totally relate to that! Making the switch to raw food has been a limited success because my emotional mind keeps getting in the way. I don't WANT to have diabetes, I don't WANT to have to only eat raw food, and I don't WANT to not be able to eat candy, cakes, and other carbs! So in the next few weeks, I'll be reading and experimenting with my emotional mind to see if I can change the path of this elephant :-)

In the meantime, here's a great recipe, my daughter Kara sent me from her Vegetarian Times a few months ago. I made it tonight for tomorrow's lunch and OMG, I WANT it now!!! LOL!

Vegetarian Times - Live Hot and Sour Soup

1/2 c. mung bean sprouts
3 Tbsp. nama shoyu or soy sauce

Mix these two together in a small bowl and set aside while you make the rest of the soup.

5 dried apricots, soaked in water until plump and drained
1-1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
1/4 c. sliced green onion ( I used a regular sweet onion)
2 Tbsp. organic raw apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. raw agave nectar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, to taste
pinch of sea salt

1/2 c. diced zucchini or cucumber
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and minced (I skipped this and just added more cayenne)
2 Tbsp.. chopped cilantro

Put everything except the last three ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth. (Oops! I just noticed I was supposed to put 3 cups of water with that! Maybe that's why mine tastes sooooo good. Skip the water if you like).

Transfer to a serving bowl and add the zucchini/ cucumber, cilantro and jalapeno. Top with the sprout mixture.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring treasures

One of the many things I love about spring is the arrival of several fruits and vegetables that, while they may be available now that there's commercial shipping, are at their very best in the spring. Two of my favorites are strawberries and asparagus. I've been enjoying the abundance of these in the past few weeks so i thought I'd share a few recipes - one asparagus, one strawberry and one strawberry and asparagus!

Last week, I spotted a line at the local farmer's market and, not knowing what to expect, I got into it. It could have turned out to be some meaty adventure, but it was purple asparagus! The farmer was selling it out of the plastic shopping bags he used to collect it and I have no idea how much I paid per pound for it. I just looked so beautiful, I couldn't resist piling more and more into my bag. Tonight I made a soup and topped it with freshly-made croutons and shaved Parmesan. It would be wonderful with a crisp Pinot Gris or chardonnay.

Separate the tough asparagus stems from the tender ones by snapping it in half. It will naturally divide the stalk into a tough lower part and tender upper part. Use only the tender upper parts to finish this soup. The tough parts are used to make the stock.

Cream of asparagus soup with seasoned croutons

1 lb fresh asparagus, cleaned thoroughly and separated by snapping.
1 medium onion chopped
1 T. EV olive oil
1 tsp. whole thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. saffron threads
2 c. water
2 T. white flour
1 c. half and half
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large pot, saute the onion in the olive oil and add the thyme leaves, salt, pepper, and saffron threads. When the onion is translucent, add the water and asparagus bottoms. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain out the stems and discard. Put the remaining stock in a blender or use a stick blender to make a smooth broth. Pour most of it into a measuring cup, but leave enough broth to cover the bottom of the pan about 1/2 inch deep. Add the upper parts of the asparagus cut into 1" pieces. Stem over medium heat until tender-crisp.

Once the asparagus tips are tender, stir in the flour and stir until it is incorporated. Then add the remaining broth and the half and half. Stir until the soup thickens somewhat. Leave on very low heat until ready to serve.

Seasoned croutons

4 slice whole wheat bread
2 T. EVOO or 1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the bread into large cubes. Melt the oil or oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook gently for 1 minute. Then add the bread cubes, paprika, and cayenne. Stir the bread cubes gently until they absorb all the oil and the garlic sticks to them. Salt and pepper as desired. Move the cubes around once in a while while they toast over medium to low heat. The point is to dry them without burning the bread or the garlic. When sufficiently dry, place them on some paper towels until they are cool.


Ladle the soup into the bowls and pile the croutons in the middle of the bowl. Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese. Yum!/

Raw Chocolate- Strawberry Pie

2 c. raw almonds, walnuts, pistachios (any combination)
1/2 c. Medjool dates, pitted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon or ginger

Chocolate layer
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 c. raw agave syrup or honey
2 T. water

Strawberry layer
1 qt. fresh strawberries, washed and sliced


In the food processor, combine the nuts, dates and spice until finely chopped and combined. The mixture will be moist and hold together when pressed. Press it into the bottom and sides of a 9" pie plate. Freeze 1 hour.

Mix the chocolate layer ingredients by hand until smooth. You may need to add more water to make it spreadable. Spread this on the pie crust once it comes out of the freezer.

Layer the strawberries on top of the chocolate and freeze for 1/2 hour or until set, but not frozen. try not to eat it all at one time!

Springtime salad

1 head romaine or red leaf lettuce, washed, dried and broken into bite-sized pieces
1/2 quart strawberries, washed, dried, and sliced
1/2 lb asparagus, washed, steamed until tender, cooled in cold water, then dried
1 c. walnuts, broken


2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. EV olive oil

Mix the first three dressing ingredients in a large bowl until combined. Add salt and pepper. Then add the olive oil while continuing to stir dressing until the oil is incorporated.

Add and mix the lettuce with the dressing. Add the asparagus, strawberries and walnuts. Gently toss once more. Adjust seasoning and enjoy.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

You've tried the rest..

Last night, after a long and exhausting day at work, David and I headed out for dinner. Neither of us were very hungry and we ended up just kind of driving east on 6th Street looking for a place to eat. I suggested Grimaldi's Pizza at 6th and Campbell mostly so that we would have a short ride home. As we were seated and ordered, I started thinking about pizza - how's it's become such a part of the American culture and where it's going.

I remember my mother telling me that she had never even heard of pizza until she was 18 or 19 and was dating an Italian guy who wanted to take her out for some pizza. She was a little resistant because he described it as "tomato pie" and the only tomato pie she knew was the green tomato pie her grandmother made which she didn't like all that much. However, once she got a taste of pizza, she was hooked as I guess most of America became in the 50's. According to A Slice of Heaven: A History of Pizza in America, the period after WWII brought pizza from the big cities into the smaller American communities. So it's really been only about 50 years that pizza has become popular among those without Italian heritage.

Growing up on the east coast, we mostly ate the hand-thrown thin crust pizza common in the mid-Atlantic states. A few of the good ones: Brother Bruno's in Mount Penn and the old Marti's pizza from the 9th and Spruce area - oh that sauce! It had tiny bits of tomato plus some of the seeds. I'm not even sure there was anything in Marti's sauce except tomatoes. It's a fresh clean taste I can't ever re-create. One of my fondest childhood memories was when my father's co-worker whose name I can't recall now, except that his first name was Ed (and we were NOT allowed to call him Mr. Ed) would bring a pizza or 2 over to the house for us all. Sometimes he would even get there so late that my parents would get us up out of bed to eat pizza! Now that was a party for four little girls!

When I first got to Tucson, I was hard-pressed to find good pizza. The pizza in Tucson is good, but it lacks that fold-able crust and oh-so-slightly-sweet, but garlicly sauce. Maybe it's the dry air, but the crust here is a problem. A decent pizza can be found at Brooklyn Pizza on 4th Avenue which has the added bonus of using solar energy to run their very popular joint. I swear the longer I live here, the better it gets :-P  If you check out the Tucson Shopper, you can sometimes find coupons for Brooklyn for $8.88 for a large plain cheese. Sweet! There's also a full moon special which is a pie for $9 and change.

For those that aren't that budget-conscious (and who isn't these days?), Grimaldi's is a very good pizza. They have a wood fired oven and a comprehensive listing of toppings. Small plain start at $13 and large at $15. Most toppings are $2 each. Last night, we ate the more expensive white garlic pizza with 2 toppings (kalamata olives and fresh mushrooms), I had a glass of wine ($9) and David had ice tea for a whopping $35. Yikes!

If you're in the mood for a thicker crust, Rocco's Little Chicago is a good pick. I like this place because it has an authentic Chicago feel to it with red-checkered table cloths and $1.50 cans of Old Style" beer (just like you get in Dad's refrigerator). They also are cool about making vegan pizza, a favor with some of my friends. I recommend the Fungus Humongous with portabello and white mushrooms. Take a few friends though because this pizza is very filling! Wait times for the pizza can be long, so don;t go when you're in a hurry, but DO get the Spicy Hot Sticks while you're waiting. They're basically pizza dough coated in cayenne and tomato sauce, twirled, baked and served with ranch or blue cheese dressing. OMG sooo good!

So what's in store for pizza in the future? I can't say for sure, but perhaps something...Indian? Chutney, curry, samosas... mozzarella?

What's your favorite pizza place and why? What kind of toppings would make your ultimate pizza?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Amereno's Little Italy

Wanting to use another of our gonga gift certificates, we headed out to a new (for us) place called, Amereno's Little Italy. Truthfully, David is no very fond of Italian food and tomatoes in particular so we don't eat at Italian places very much, but he was willing to give it a try.

When we arrived, we weren't even sure the place was open. So many good eating places haven't survived the economic downturn. It looked dark from the outside and there were only 3 cars on the entire parking lot. David checked the door and lo and behold, it was indeed open.

 We were immediately seated in a cute little booth and brought water. The setting was much nicer than the other Italian places we've been to in Tucson, including the place of 4th Avenue (Caruso's). The tables were set with white tablecloths and napkins. I kind of felt underdressed, but hey, this is Tucson, right?

First we got a few slices of some delicious homemade bread with a butter, chive (and sour cream?) spread that was addictive. They had a wonderful wine selection, including some nice "happy hour" specials. Unfortunately, they were out of the Chianti that I wanted, but our waiter made a wonderful alternative suggestion. Speaking of the wait staff, they were most friendly and attentive young men. Some of the nicest I've found here.

We ordered the pinzimonio antipasta ($9) which consisted of  roasted bell peppers, greek olives and imported sharp provolone cheese served cold on a bed of dressed lettuce with lightly toasted Italian bread. I added a light spread of the herbed butter to the toasts and was very happy with the taste of all of it! To my surprise, we finished it!

David ordered salsiccia sisca (fresh sausage with spinach and mushrooms sautéed in light olive oil and roasted garlic $18) for his entree. His first bite brought a big smile and a "pretty good" which is a great compliment from him. He loved the sausage.  Although his Chinese side tells him that noodles go with everything, but thinks he may prefer the potatoes next time.

I had asked the waiter for a preference between the lasagna and the eggplant parmigiana. I was inclined to go with teh lasagna until he told me that the eggplant was lighter and very thinly sliced.I then went with his recommendation and was very pleased that I did. The eggplant was tender and mild, the sauce was fresh and tomatoey and in just the right amount so as not to overpower the eggplant. I've not had such good eggplant in over a year and never in Tucson!

The final bill was a little pricier than we planned. I did have 2 glasses of wine and an 18% gratuity was added (I probably would have given more, but I get annoyed that they don't trust me to tip on the full bill and refuse to add more to the already charged tip), however, all in all it was well worth it! If you're int he mood for fine Italian dining in Tucson, forget the others and go to Amereno's. We will definitively be back!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

El Coqui Restaurant

Finally! El Coqui restaurant is open in Tucson! We've been waiting and watching for the opening for well over 6 months now and just today we found out they opened on January 16th. We scrapped plans to find a Mexican all-you-can-eat Sunday lunch buffet in favor of testing out the tastes of Puerto Rico. The restaurant is located on the northwest corner of Craycroft and 22nd in a somewhat barren strip mall.

Driving past every few weeks, we were surprised at the location since there were very few cars at any of the other shops and most of the mall is closed up. However, today, there were at least twenty cars in the lot and lots of people inside the restaurant even though it was 2:30 in the afternoon.

We were seated right away and given pan ajo (garlic bread) as we pondered the menu. Quite frankly, there wasn't a tremendous amount of vegetarian food available, but there was more than one choice, so YIPEE, I can go back again! We ordered a Surullo de Maiz con queso (corn "fritter" with cheese) for me and an Alcapurria rellleno con carne (plaintain "fritter" filled with beef) for David. I use the word "fritter" loosely since the fritters of my childhood usually involve a looser batter. These were more rolled, but very delicious. Mine tasted like a lightly fried corn cake with melted cheese in the middle. You know me and cheese! YUM!

For our entrees, we both ordered mofongo, a savory mix of cooked plantains, garlic and olive oil that is shaped and either baked or fried. The plantains were roughly chopped which is different than the way David and I make them and the way I've had them in PR, but they were just as tasty. Mine came with lightly fried onions around the mofongo and David ordered his with chicharron de pollo (fried chicken pieces). His chicken pieces came al ajillo (with garlic sauce) which was sweet and tender.

While we were munching, one of the staff offered us a bottle of vinegar/pepper/ garlic sauce that he said his mother made every day. It was the perfect accompaniment for the mofongo. It had a pleasant taste of peppers, but not really any hotness that David or I could tell.

The atmosphere was quite nice, except that it's got that modern restaurant feel where everything is overwhelmingly loud because there's not one sound-absorbing thing in the place - no curtains, no rugs, nada. I suppose lots of noise makes a place chic. The staff were warm, welcoming and almost too attentive. Hector, our waiter, must have checked with us 8 times on how everything was, but I'd rather that than being ignored.

For dessert, we shared a Tembleque or coconut pudding. It was smooth, buttery and just a little bit sweet. And then David told me it's made almost completely of coconut fat. Doesn't matter... we finished it anyway :-)

In all, I give El Coqui a very high recommendation if you want good traditional PR food, attentive staff, and cute little coquis on your tableware.

And for those of you who aren't able to make it to Tucson, here's David's favorite bean recipe. Don't let the list of ingredients scare you off. Most of it is spices which can be adjusted to meet what you have in the pantry. Sofrito is a mix of chopped onions, sweet red peppers, garlic, and cilantro. You can substitute the ingredients chopped separately if you don't have sofrito handy.

1 lb beans, canned (pinto beans, pigeon peas, kidney beans, or even navy beans work well)
3 tbs sofrito
¼ cup annatto oil (can be replaced with olive oil)
½ roasted red pepper (not hot)
½ can tomato paste or crushed tomatoes
12-16 stuffed olives (green Spanish olives would be best, but kalamata are good, too)
½ cup chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
1-½ cups vegetable broth (can be chicken if desired)
3 bay leaves
2Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

2 tsp crushed dried oregano
2 tsp crushed rosemary
2 tsp Spanish paprika (sometimes sold as smoked paprika)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground thyme

If using canned beans:
Clean and rinse the beans in a colander under running water until the water runs clear.

Put the oil in a 2 qt sauce pan and heat up on medium until a drop of sofrito sizzles in it, fry and stir in the sofrito, onions, red pepper, and olives; after 2 minutes add the tomato paste, the spices garlic and bay leaves, but NOT the fresh cilantro. Stir continuously for 1 minute. Add the drained beans and the vegetable broth to the pot. If the beans are not covered in liquid, you can put a little bit of water. bring everything to a boil, then turn down the heat and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Stir and add a little water if it’s too dry (please be careful adding water as the beans are supposed to be a little dry, too much water will make them mushed). About 5  minutes before you serve them, add the additional cilantro. Take out the bay leaves and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over white rice and enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Raw breakfast ideas

I'm finding that breakfast is the hardest part of my raw food day. After years of eating eggs & cheese, butter beans & cheese, grilled cheese, macaroni & cheese...well, you get the picture, it was really hard to kick cheese out of my morning. I never realized how much cheese I ate in the morning. I mean, I knew I ate a lot of cheese, but at breakfast?

So now I'm kind of floundering around for something to eat. I've always been hungry right away in the morning, so starting out with a smoothie keeps me going for about half an hour before I'm hungry again. Late in the summer, I hit upon the idea of "nutmeal" which is a combination of nuts & seeds (almonds, sunflower, walnuts), fruits (think an apple or pear), some spice (cinnamon and/or ginger), and a little water ground up in the food processor until it has an oatmeal-like consistency. The more you whirl it, the more like cooked oatmeal it becomes. This is great stuff!It's lighter and fresher tasting than oatmeal and, even if my diabetes were cured tomorrow, I don't think I could go back to that thick heavy oatmeal taste again.

While the nutmeal is great, it does take time in the morning to prepare, especially when I started to want it warm. Plus, with the cold mornings, I find I just want to stay in bed longer. I was finding myself heading out the door with a baggie of nuts and dried fruit everyday. It took me forever to eat them, plus I missed my nutmeal, so I tried dehydrating it into "crackers." Last week, I made apple, almond, flax seed and cinnamon crackers. They tasted really yummy - light, fresh and really filling without having to chew and chew and chew.

Today I got more inventive with the recipes and created Carribean breakfast crackers. Here's what I used (note: it's not much of a recipe due to the variant nature of the liquid inside the young coconuts. You'll have to add more or less coconut water to get the right consistancy for spreading):

Carribean breakfast crackers
meat from 2 young coconuts
1 ripe banana
1 c. raw almoonds
2 t. ground or fresh ginger
juice of 1 key lime

Process in the food processor until it's very finely ground and mushy. Add a little coconut water if the mixture is too think to process properly.

Pour into a bowl and add enough ground flax seed meal to make it thick enough to spread (oatmeal consistency). Then add 1 c of goji berries (soaked) or raisins (soaked). Spread the mixture onto trays and make marks for 12-15 squares. Dehydrate at 145 degrees for 2-3 hours and then turn them over and turn the temp. down to 115 degrees until crisp.

I haven't tasted these yet, but they smell soooo good!

I used the rest of the coconut water to made the Chai Spice wafers from the Rainbow Green cookbook I got a while back. They've got almonds, sesame seeds, Chai spice, and vanilla in them as well. I'm thinking I can make a little walnut butter to spread on them this week. can wait for breakfast!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010

Happy to report that the first bird of 2010 is a male Anna's Hummingbird at our feeder!

One of my resolutions again this year is to do more birding, but I'd also like to get back to posting to this blog more often. Wishing every reader a happy, healthy, and birdy New Year!