Tag Archives: vegetarian recipes

Whole Grain Double Apple Breakfast Cake & Parenting

17 Oct

You know you want this.

We have a two snack per day rule in our house (gasp!) and one of those snacks must be fruit (double gasp!).  We started this when the kids were very young and now that 3 of the 4 are old enough to be in charge of their own school or weekend snacks, they don’t protest (most of the time).  As a result, we have lots of seasonal fruit around which means I have more apples than counter space and when the rest of the world was freaking out about melons being the harbingers of disease thus resulting in cheap organic cantaloupes we had them lining the windowsills.

But back to apples.

Normally, I cook and bake with the kids.  When I don’t, I have that foreign feeling that brings back pre-motherhood days.  The biggest change after being a parent is that lack of singularity, isn’t it?  Once I was a person in this world who, while connected at various tether-lengths to family or friends or lovers, was free to snip those cords or wander or root at will.  Now, no matter where on this planet I find myself, I am always attached.  I don’t mean I’m weighted down by my kids or marriage, though certainly I have felt that at times.  I guess I’m talking more about responsibilities and knowing that parenting, like cooking, is a process in which the goal is change.

We start with a list of ingredients – in this case apples – and then make them not look like apples by peeling and coring and chopping them.  We add in powders and rising agents and, since we know the chemical reaction, are sure the dish we’re making will rise.  We know how this cake will taste (well, I do, you haven’t made it yet – get ready!).

Not so with parenting.

There’s some prep, there’s hands-on learning, but the results are ongoing.  The cake is every day and never.

Eat up this delightful whole grain apple breakfast-snack-dinner cake tonight.  And then do it all again tomorrow.

Whole Grain Double Apple Breakfast Cake

I’ll be honest – this is what’s for dinner tonight.  I’m a big fan of protein breakfasts and breakfast dinners.  7 year old Julia loves dinner leftovers first thing in the morning (hummus and avocado, etc) and looks forward to comfort at night.  This is best served warm with a dollop of yogurt or ice cream.  I make a plate of vegetables to shares and a platter of fruit served alongside this 1-bowl meal. The cake is moist and sweet enough to please without being too desserty (though it is a yummy dessert).

1 1/2 cups  yogurt  (Greek is great, all work well)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 whole eggs, 1 additional white

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp olive oil

2/3 cup applesauce

1/4 cup maple syrup

2-3 apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped

pinch salt

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup spelt flour (or other whole grain)

1/2 cup sorghum flour (or other combination)

scant tsp baking soda

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

dash nutmeg

Oven to 350.  Mix all wet ingredients including apples.  Add flours, baking soda, and baking powder.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan.  Add 1/2 batter.  Sprinkle with part of the brown sugar and some cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add remaining batter.  Top with rest of sugar cinnamon.  Bake for 50 minutes until a tester comes out clean.  Savor the passage of time and the passage of the cake from oven into mouth into stomachs.


Black Bean Burgers & Lime-Poblano Corn Salad & Waiting

14 Sep

I’ve kept you waiting, I know.  And you, unlike my children who can be amused by “find something in the doctor’s office that’s a square” or “would you rather meet Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day or Kevin Youklis from the Red Sox” or “list in order the five places you want to visit”…you are not waiting.  I love the emails and the requests.

But the truth is, my new website is not ready.  I’m working on it.  My designer is working on it.  My dog is working on it (he is in charge of lying on my perpetually-cold feet).  Soon!  So, to tide you over (my kids are big on ‘tide-me-overs’), I offer not one but two recipes AND a glimpse of the goods to come…

Black Bean Burgers

Obviously, if you have the time to invest, soak dried beans overnight and cook them and mash them.  But if the back-to-school rush has you hopping around like an extra in the Thriller video (or making outdated references to pop culture), then go with canned. You can prep this in the morning during breakfast and cook at night!

2 15 oz can Black Beans

3/4 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 pinch sea sealt

1 egg

1/2 cup diced red onion

olive oil or coconut oil for cooking

Drain and rinse the beans.  Mash one of the cans and keep the other whole.  Combine in large bowl and add rest of ingredients.  Gently fold together until well-mixed.  Let sit in fridge for 1 hour (or longer).  While you form the burgers into patties, heat 1-2 tbsp oil in skillet.  Cook each side for about 3 minutes, until crispy and got through.

Lime-Poblano Spinach Corn Salad

1-2 poblano peppers

2 cups corn (fresh or frozen)

juice of 1 lime

pinch sea salt

pinch sugar of any kind (honey, agave, maple syrup, brown sugar, etc)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 handful cherry tomatoes or other small tomato

1/3 cup cubed queso fresco

big handful baby spinach, arugula, or other tender green

Roast your peppers by sticking them directly into the flame on your stove.  When charred on all sides, stick in paper bag (this will steam them so the skins slide off).  Chop peppers.  Add all ingredients and toss well.  Keep in fridge for a few hours before serving.


Well-Cooked Life, the umbrella site for my blog, pantry & decor store, books, recipes, and writings, will be unveiled soon.  Here are some of the items you might find:

Tomato-Cheddar Cornmeal Crust Tart & Hurricane Pie

27 Aug

Q: What happens when you visit the in-laws for vacation but the East Coast shuts down because of Irene*?

A: You come home with four kids and a hairy beast and a soggy husband and scrounge.  The shelves look like Soviet markets circa 1982 or my older brother’s fridge that first year out of college (hint: mustard is not a food group).  We let the kids entertain themselves on the long car trip back by reading, taking turns kicking each other’s seat and/or annoying each other by chewing gum loudly or humming, and making up new lyrics for songs.  Now, you might be thinking, “Gee, I wish my kids were creative enough to a) know b-sides of Beatles’ songs well enough to change the words.”  If so, you were NOT in the car with us and thus didn’t get to hear the 9 year old and 12 year old compete for who could be grosser-slash-less appropriate (Dear Poo-dence was only the first step). But all four of them got along well and laughed and the rain was thick and my husband’s hand was on my arm.

I thought about posting the lyrics, but decided I’d post the recipe for Hurricane Pie.  I made two – one to cover tonight’s shitstorm and one for tomorrow’s.

Tomato-Cheddar Cornmeal Crust Tart (aka Hurricane Pie)

Our CSA gave (read: unloaded) about seventeen pounds of tomatoes in the past couple of weeks. I’ve canned sauce and frozen sauce.  I’ve dried tiny tomatoes and soaked others in garlic and oil for the jar I keep in the fridge.  I happened to have yellow tomatoes and red, but feel free to use whatever you like.

1-2 lbs tomatoes, cored and sliced
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup greek yogurt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup grated cheddar (sharp is best)
3/4 cup other (try Gruyere or Pecorino)
for the crust:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp coconut oil
6 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup very cold water
Oven to 375.  Salt the tomatoes and let drain while you make the crust. Mix flours and meal.  Add salt.  Cut the butter and coconut oil into the mixture.  Add the water bit by bit until dough starts to form.  Work into a ball and let rest in the fridge for about ten minutes.  Roll onto floured surface (this yields two crust bottoms or one full pie – up to you) and fit into tart pan.  Mix Greek yogurt, mustard, and lemon juice.  Using kitchen towel, pat tomatoes as dry as you can.  Fill the tart crust(s)with tomatoes and slather with yogurt mixture. Top with both cheeses.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes until crust is browning and cheese is bubbling.  Serve with garlic green beans or simple mache salad.
*Yes, I am am aware that hurricanes Emily and Franklin both graced us this year.

Extra Thick Garlic & Mushroom Soup

24 Aug

Advice and observations from my children:

Don’t let other people make you feel bad because most of the time they’re only saying that because they feel bad about it.

If you get kicked in the ballsack, it will hurt.  Especially if it’s your older brother who does it.

Save your candy until the movie starts.  Previews don’t count.

If Mummy says you can’t have something, you can argue with her and she might change her mind.  If Daddy says you can’t, you can’t.

Grandparents say yes a lot.

Salad is just another way of saying vegetables.

Your siblings are so annoying but the are also your best friends.

It’s not nice to say I don’t care. It’s also not nice to call someone fire engine poopy head.

It’s okay to say Bloody Hell in America because it’s not really a big swear.

Everyone was once a kid.

Mushrooms are one of those things that look like you shouldn’t be able to eat them but you can.

Extra Thick Garlic & Mushroom Soup

Is this complicated? It most certainly is not.  However, this soup is tasty, freezes well, preps in about ten minutes, and if you make it on the thicker side, can even serve as a spread on your toasted bread.

1 lb mixed mushrooms

1 onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tbsp olive oil

big pinch sea salt

3/4 cup vegetable stock

1/2 cup half & half or cream


Wash and cut mushrooms (don’t be picky about it).  Place mushrooms, onion, and garlic in pot with olive oil.  Heat on high-med until onions are sweating.  Add salt.  Add stock and bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer until mushrooms are just soft.  Remove from heat.  Add half & Half bit by bit until a liquidy as you like.  Served topped with watercress.


Warm Vegetable Salad with Beet Greens & Unplugged Parenting (The NYT is Wrong)

18 Aug

Ok, so the NYT isn’t wrong.  I just disagree with this article here in which the author describes his terrific “plugged-in summer.”

Now, don’t for a second start to think I’m going to rant about parents at the playground who are texting or reading blogs (ahem) instead of  interacting or at least enjoying watching their kids.  Because I’m not going to even though when I see this is makes me sad. (And yes, there IS a difference between the odd “Let’s meet at 5” text vs the obvious surfing and Angry Bird playing).

The article makes a decent point that we don’t need to disconnect entirely.  However, I was caught between chuckle and blech-face when I read that he was happy to have the new leaf-identifying app and the bird-sound app and all the other apps.

Here’s a thought: take a field guide to birds.  Or a guide to trees and have your kids – gasp! – open an actual printed book and flip through until they find the leaf.  What happens if you ask your kids to identify a leaf and they can’t…nothing.  There is great joy to be had (and lessons learned) from an adult who says, “I don’t know.”  And further joys from allowing children to make up names.  Ask them, “What would you name this leaf?”  Answer: “Pointy-tipped cloud.”  Collect the leaves if you like, bring them home and continue your summer by looking it up when you get back.

I imagine the campfire the author had and how perhaps they forgot the lyrics to “The Circle Game” or :This Land is Your Land” and before anyone could stumble or search the brain files, they swiped and clicked and found all of the lyrics and had the tune play, too.

I like the forgotten lyrics.  I enjoy the made up words we stick in when we stumble.  I like the mystery of leaves and the satisfaction of paging through bird books to see if we’ve spotted a warbler or a nuthatch.

Why do we feel that answers must come immediately?  Why do we pass this onto our children?  Let them develop skills.  Do I suggest we disregard technology?  I do not.  But virtual nature?  It’s like tasting a picture of a s’more.

Warm Vegetable Salad with Beet Greens (meal in a bowl)

This is a simple dinner in which you can slice all those vegetables you have from your CSA or market and with just a few minutes, make them seem like a collection of gems.  I like to add cheese (try Bucheron or Feta) but this is optional (for vegans) as are the sunflower seeds (for the nut-allergic).

2 1/2 tbsp olive oil

pinch sea salt

1-2 Summer squash, sliced

1-2 carrot, sliced

1-2 zucchini, sliced

1 bunch beet greens, washed but kept long

1 tsp best syrupy balsamic vinegar

handful of crumbled cheese (optional)

handful toasted sunflower seeds

Heat the olive oil and salt in a skillet.  Add squash, carrots, and zucchini and let still until seared.  Gently flip or stir.  Cover the vegetables with the beet greens and let cook for 2 minutes.  Drizzle with vinegar and remove from heat. Plate right away and top with cheese which will begin to melt.  Add seeds for crunch.

Labneh (Middle Eastern Yogurt Dip) & Loving Summer

14 Aug

Fall was always my favorite season.  Maybe it will be again but when I became a parent I realized the freedom of summer.  Do my kids miss homework?  They do not but I believe I miss it even less than they do.   I fit my work in where I can all year-round but in these warm days I want only pick berries with my kids, see them tear around the yard, come home form the beach with sand in their hair (sand that seems to stay no matter how many washings), and diners that start late and linger on the porch.

Last summer I had an intense book tour with a group of authors.  We formed a little pack of creative misfits and wandered a new town each day, shuttled from one plane to another, events and bookstores and little to no sleep, always in search of good food.  We found great stuff, including wonderful labneh in Kansas.

My kids love the creamy texture and the salty spread as a dip for carrots or cucumbers slices.  I’ve written about labneh before but I do so again to encourage you to try it.  If you don’t feel like letting the Greek yogurt drain overnight, don’t do it – it’s still thick.  See if you kids can make the whole things start to finish while you memorize the feel of bare feet on the porch or the pleasure of summer’s last few days.

Labneh (thick yogurt dip)

1 cup Greek yogurt

1/4-1/3 cup oil oil

sea salt

Drain the yogurt in cheese cloth overnight (or don’t).  Stir in olive oil and add salt, stirring to dissolve.  Chill in fridge and serve on bagels or toasted pita points or with vegetables.  Try labneh with your veggie burgers or in your fish tacos.




Semi-Sweet Breakfast Loaf with Carrots and Zucchini & A Threeway

11 Aug

I’m the kind of baker who likes the load a bunch of foodstuffs in a bowl and see what happens.  This is the School of Anti-Baking.  Sometimes this results in oven explosions or brownies that resemble moose turds but most of the time I have enough of the science down to have it work.

“What’re adding?” Julia wants to know.

“I don’t know yet.”

She watches me and then, out of nowhere says, “Can I have a threeway?”

Huh? If I were the kind of parent who cursed in front of her kids I might have said, “What the fuck did you just say?” But I am not that kind of parent so I thought that and said, “Excuse me?”

“A threeway,” she rolled her eyes as if I should of course know what she means. “Like, cranberries, chocolate chips, and carrot shreds?”

“Oh.  Sure.”

And so the Breakfast Loaf began to take shape as I lost a year or two from my life.

Sweet Breakfast Loaf with Carrots and Zucchini

This is the time to use up the stray carrot sitting in the fridge or the lone zucchini that didn’t make it into your lasagna.  Also, please feel free to substitute flours that work for you – sorghum, brown rice, etc in order to make this gluten-free or wheat-free.  Add seeds, nuts, or other dried fruit as desired.  This is sweet enough to appeal to kids but also great with cream cheese or smashed berries on top.  Add more sugar if you must or other chips for a fourway.

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup coarse bran

1 cup leftover cereal, brown rice flour, or any flour you like (or just use more of above)

2 eggs plus one additional egg white

1/2 cup applesauce

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp salt

1tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup grated zucchini

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 white sugar

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Oven to 350.  Spray or grease two loaf pans.  Mix everything in a giant bowl.  Pour into loaf pans.  Bake for 1 hour or more until set through.



Baked Italian Eggplant Polenta with Parmesan & No Place like Om

9 Aug

It is an unwritten rule that if your partner or spouse goes away for any period of time, the children and animals will give you trouble.

Today is no exception.  5am? Cue the dog vomit.  5.30am cue the daughter hunched over the toilet.  5.45am cue the dog again along with the worried Daniel who slept in the hall outside my room and has been trampled on by the dog and his sister.

The good news?  I had to cancel my dentist appointment.

That, and polenta with narrow Italian eggplant from our farm share.  This dish is a great way to use up whatever leftover cheeses you have – parmesan or cheddar or fontina or a mix.  If you want to do vegan, drop in some caramelized onions for extra flavor. The result is a crisp-edged, comforting cheese-enhanced easy dinner that you can enjoy by yourself if no one else is feeling up to it.

I’ll enjoy mine after a hour on my yoga mat this afternoon.  I often find myself dreading going to yoga because it takes effort to get there, and more than that, effort for me to switch my brain off or give myself permission not to worry about everyone else and my daily routine.  But in the hot room with everyone breathing and my body stretching and working hard, I know I’ll find some peace and energy after this crazy morning.  There’s no place like home for love and for chaos and no place like the yoga mat for a much-needed respite.  Om.

Baked Italian Eggplant Polenta with Parmesan

4 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1 pinch sea salt

1 1/2 cups polenta

2 Italian eggplants, ends trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick and SPRINKLED WITH 1 TBSP SALT FOR 30 min

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup parmesan

1/3 cup shredded/crumbled other cheese of choice (think about chevre or cheddar or gorgonzola for depth)

Oven to 350. Boil stock and add salt.  Pour in polenta in a steady stream, stirring with a wooden spoon as you do so.  As the polenta cooks for 15-20 minutes, stir.  At the 15 minute mark, add the parmesan and stir just once or twice (too much will make the cheese stringy).  Meanwhile, use a 1 tbsp butter and 1 of olive oil in skillet to briefly cook eggplant slices.  Don’t fuss with them too much, just cook them in a single layer and when they brown, remove them from heat.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil and mix gently.

Butter casserole dish and place a layer of eggplant on the bottom.  Sprinkle with a bit of the cheese.  Add most of the polenta.  Add the rest of the eggplant slices and top with remaining polenta.  Sprinkle cheese on top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve with salad or mixed garlic mushrooms.


Twice-Cooked Beans with Smoky Paprika Onions & Laziness

3 Aug


Some recipe are borne of genius.  Some, like this one, are borne of sheer laziness.  What, you’ve never been enamored of Jacobs Cattle beans, their marble-like texture and splotches of brown and white, so taken with them you keep them cloistered away in a jar just to ogle them?  Well, I have.  And then I realized I was hoarding them so I poured a cup into my enamel pot and let them sit overnight in some water.

Then I forgot about them.

Then I remembered them but felt too lazy to cook them.

Then I forgot about them again.

Then I realized they would go to waste if I didn’t cook them soon so I did.

Then I forgot about them for a few hours.

So I cooked them again. And they turned out so well I recreated that dish a few times until it became a recipe.

Twice-Cooked Beans with Smoky Paprika Onions

Today, these are my lunch, on a bed of greens alongside Heidi Swanson’s simple and lovely corn salad.

1 cup Jacob’s Cattle beans (or other large bean)

2 cups vegetable stock

2 red onions

2 tbsp olive oil

pinch sea salt

1 tbsp paprika (smoked, bittersweet)

1/4 cup water

Soak the beans in 1 cup water overnight or however long until you forget about them.  Add 1 cup of stock to pot and boil for 20 minutes, covered. Turn heat off and let cool completely (this is a good time to forget about them again).   Cut onions in half and then into slices.  Add last cup of stock to beans and boil for 30 minutes. Heat oil in skillet and drop in salt and paprika, cooking on med-low until paprika starts to smoke just a little and becomes fragrant.  Drop onions into skillet and do not move them.  Once onions begin to caramelize, turn gently to avoid breakage.  Add1/4 cup water to onions when they are glazed and paprika is sticking or forming paste.  Add beans and stir together until liquid is absorbed. Don’t forget to eat it.


Black Olive and Caper Tapenade & Proportional Happiness

25 Jul

When I go to Mexico to visit my old friend, Cristina, I like to help her milk goats, eat the cheese she makes from those goats, and wander into the market to buy hand-made blue gorditas and cactus for salad.  But what I really love is buying spoons.  They are made locally, don’t cost much, and are easy to travel with.  I use them for stirring risotto, scraping coconut oil from the jar, tasting jam as it boils.

Sometimes, I just look at my spoons.

These spoons provide a lot more happiness than they should.

This gets me thinking about proportional happiness – that is, what makes you happier than it should for the cost or effort.

Another example: Thursday afternoons I am in great spirits.  I go to pick up my farm share.  The reality is, I already paid for it, I could get vegetables at the market near me, and it’s not the most convenient time.  And yet.  I go, I stand in line, weigh my beet greens or pluck my bunch of kale or slide fresh ears of corn into my bag and all the while I have a huge grin on my face.  Why?  I guess I feel like part of a community, that I’m part of a farming cycle that I respect and value.  And I’m getting organic, local food for my family which makes me feel good about being a provider.  I also get  a burst of creativity – where I had no idea what to make before, and began to dread dinner, I always get ideas.  What will I do with this giant bag of baby spinach?  I flash to the olive in the fridge, the half-full jar of capers.  Dinner.  Tomatoes and sweet onions and we’ll make soup for tomorrow, serve it in glasses to avoid spoons.

Oh, spoons.  I do like my wooden friends.  I collect them wherever I go – I have spoons from four continents.  Some have cracked from years of use.  Another chipped when the kids formed a band and the spoons were the drumsticks.  It happens.

What are the things that make you happy?  Not the first class all-expenses paid trip.  I mean the 6$ beaded shoes I got in Brooklyn with my best friend that make me ridiculously happy – they make me think of her and how we switched shoes because I had a blister and about the lovely beading that sparkles.  I mean the pasta that is so tiny I hate to eat it but I do and it’s delicious.  I mean the way my mom smells and how, even as a grown woman, I like to hug her and sniff her neck and, when she was far away from me in college I would go into the perfume section of Bloomingdale’s in NYC and pretend to be interested just so they’d let me smell the bottle.  Just a smell, nothing more. And a smile that lasted all day.  I mean the feel of getting into bed at night, with y body sore from being outside and working hard in yoga, and sliding my feet on the clean sheets and finding the person I love next to me.

Ironed tea towels.  There.  I’ve admitted it in writing.  I really, really like how they look all stacked up, how I can fit more in the drawer, how soothing it is to iron something easy.

Wearing my oldest son’s clothes when I can’t be bothered to grab mine – his jackets fit me now, his shoes are too big but fine for walking the dog. Way more happiness than the Land’s End kid fleece warrants.

I could go on.  I think it’s important that we notice small moments, small items that bring us joy, music or mint leaves or brand new thumb tacks.

The best?  Well, probably how my kids sigh in their sleep, and sort of fling their arms around me or how their small chests dip and rise as though just being checked on brings them tons of joy.

That, and spoons.

Black Olive and Caper Tapenade

1 cup black olives, pitted

2 tbsp capers

1/4 cup olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic

big pinch salt

*if you are not a vegetarian, I suggest adding an anchovy or two or some anchovy paste

Put olives and capers in blender (mini one is fine) and pulse, adding olive oil bit by bit.  Add garlic and salt and pulse until blended well.  Adjust for seasoning.  Serve on crusty bread or on pasta.  The above photo is with baby spinach, peppers, and shredded cheese, a family favorite.  Use your favorite spoon to dish it out.

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