Sunday, April 4, 2010

Weekly Menu Recipes

Chickpea Wrap
Sea Salt
2 tbs. Olive Oil
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Onion, finely diced
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne
Freshly ground pepper
1 15oz can of Chickpeas
1 White Potato
5 whole oil packed sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
Naan or Tortillas

1. Place a large saute pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the bottom with salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and heat for another minute, do not let it smoke.
2. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic to the pan and saute for 5 -7 minutes. Add the cumin, red pepper, cayenne, and black pepper to taste and saute for 1 minute.
3. Add the chickpeas and their liquid and 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Add the potato and tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes soften. Serve wrapped in tortillas.  Makes 4 wraps.

Skewers of Squash, Seitan in Pineapple‐Ginger Marinade with Brown Rice


1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice (from the pineapple or the can)

1/4 cup minced cilantro

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 tbs soy sauce

2 cloves of garlic, minced


1 pkg. seitan

1 cup of uncooked brown rice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large red bell pepper

1 1/2 cups peeled and cubed pineapple

Wooden skewers

Combine the vinegar, pineapple juice, cilantro, ginger, soy sauce, and garlic to a shallow dish. Add the squash, seitan and toss gently to coat, cover and refrigerate.

Preheat the grill to medium-heat. Place 2 1/4 cups of water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to boil. Add the rice and salt, cover, reduce the heat to very low, and cook for about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the bell pepper into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Just before grilling, evenly distribute the squash, seitan, pepper and pineapple among the skewers.  Reserve the marinade. Place skewers on the grill and cook for 4 minutes then turn and grill about 4 minutes longer. Mount the rice into the center of the serving plate, place two skewers atop each serving. Strain the reserved marinade and pass it as a sauce. 

Crunchy Chinese Salad

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tbs. dark sesame oil

2 tbs. canola oil

2 tbs. soy sauce

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp salt

6 oz. dried ramen noodles

1 1/2 lbs cabbage, shredded

2 cups of bean sprouts

1 medium bell pepper

3 oz unsalted cashews

In a small bowl combine the vinegar, oils, soy sauce, chili powder and salt. Use your hands to break up dried ramen noodles. Combine the cabbage, noodles, sprouts, and bell pepper in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the mixture and combine. it's best to refrigerate for 6 - 8 hours (make the night before). Meanwhile, toast the cashews in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Once they are golden brown, removed them from the pan, place them in a bowl and pour 1 tablespoon of soy sauce over them. Toss to coat and set them aside at room temperature. When the salad has marinated, toss with cashews then serve. 

Mixed Mushrooms and Tofu Pasta

1 lb. Mixed mushrooms (shiitake)

4 garlic cloves

1 large onion sliced

3 tbs. olive oil

2 tbs. freshly torn basil leaves

2 tbs. chopped thyme

2 tsb. parsley

1 block firm tofu

juice of 1/2 lemon

14 oz. pasta of your choice

salt and pepper

Slice the mushrooms into chunks, put the mushrooms, garlic, and onion in a food processor or blender and process into a chunky paste. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the mushroom paste and saute over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the herbs and cook for 5 minutes. Put the tofu in the blender and process enough to make a coarse puree - it must not be too creamy. Add the tofu and the lemon juice to the mushrooms. Stir well and cook, covered over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package (they should be al dente). Drain the pasta, toss with mushroom sauce and season with salt and pepper. 

Red Bean and Quinoa Chili


2 cans of red beans (adzuki or kidney beans)

1 cups of water

2 tsp. ground cumin, divided

1 tbs. olive oil

2 tsp sea salt

2 cloves of garlic

1 large green or red pepper, chopped

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. cayenne

2/3 cup quinoa

1 cup frozen corn

1 to 2 cups organic tomato sauce

grated cheese (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, 1 tsp. of salt, garlic and green pepper, the remaining 1 tsp of cumin and the rest of the spices and saute for 5 - 10 minutes. Add quinoa and stir in. Add corn, tomato sauce and water to the onion/quinoa mixture. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the beans and a second tsp. of salt, simmer another 10 minutes. 


  • 1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth. 

Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus.
Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley (optional).

Salad Dressing (Use the following ratios)
1/3 Balsamic Vinegar
2/3 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper, Oregano

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What's for dinner 1/25/10 - Black Bean Burgers

I decided that I really wanted a good burger but didn't want to have to rely on Irene's to fill that void. They turned out wonderfully, but I forgot to take a picture (they looked perfect) and by the time I thought of it they were all gobbled up.

2 cans of black beans (rinsed and drained)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 of a large onion, chopped
1 egg
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic salt
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup prepared salsa
1/4 cup dry roasted almonds
Olive oil

1. Place black beans in food processor and mix until smooth. Add almonds and pulse until mixed in.
2. Add in garlic, onions, cumin and garlic salt. Pulse.
3. Add in egg, and and mix while mixing in flour, corn meal. (If the mixture is runny, add more flour until you can form stiff peaks)
4. Mix in salsa.
5. Form with heaping spoonfuls (about the size of a large hamburger patty) of mixture on a hot and oiled pan or griddle. If you are going to grill them, place formed patties in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
6. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until both sides are browned and firm.

Place burgers on whole grain buns and top with tomato, avocado, onions and mustard. 

They're delicious, enjoy!

Since I forgot to take a picture of my burger, here's a link to another black bean burger recipe. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's for dinner 12/22/09 - Russian Salad

Our winter CSA box usually gets me a little depressed. I'm not a big fan of root vegetables and as of lately we've been getting tons of them (beets, turnips, carrots, potatoes, and the bane of my existence: rutabaga). In the passed 2 years of subscribing to our CSA I have never used my rutabaga, it usually sits in the fridge, giving me the stink eye until I throw it in the compost. But this year, I decided to do my best to use it all up. After looking through Moosewood Cooks for a Crowd, I stumbled upon a recipe that I thought might just work. And, I must say, rutabaga and I are getting along quite well now. Here is the adapted recipe, so for those of you who have no idea how to get rid of all of those root vegetables - here's how in one fell swoop. 


    3 medium sized fresh beets, peeled and chopped
    2 medium peeled potato, chopped
    1 large rutabaga, peeled and chopped
    1 large peeled carrot, chopped
    2 dill pickles (all we had were slices and they worked fine)
    1 leek, chopped
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 or 2 sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
    salt to taste

Boil the potato, rutabaga and carrot until they are soft but can still hold their shape. Take out potato, rutabaga and carrots and set aside, while chopping the leek and pickles. Boil the beets until soft. Once you can get a fork in and out of it with ease, it's ready to take out and cool. Once the boiled vegetables are cooked and cooled then mix in a bowl together with pickles and leek. Add dill and olive oil, a dash of salt and mix well.

Moosewood suggests serving with hard boiled egg or sesame crackers.

Day 3 of vacation and I've conquered rutabaga, I feel like I'm king of the world. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Four Favorite Foods of 2009

As 2009
 progressed I have become more and more vegan (well except for the occasional slice of cheese and pat of butter) and have tried to find more ways to get protein into our meals. Macrobiotics has also been  an interest of mine, due in part to my strange acquisition of optic neuritis. It's amazing how much food affects you, so I've tried to use as many whole, organic ingredients that are packed with the nutrients that I most desperately need. I also stumbled upon a fantastic cookbook at the library which has been an inspiration in nearly all of my meals. 

Adzuki Beans - I LOVE these beans! They're packed full of fiber and protein and are delicious in everything. My favorite meal using adzukis is Cynthia Lair's Vegetarian Chili (I substituted adzukis for kidney beans) which is founded upon using quinoa, beans and corn. It is absolutely delicious and packed with protein. It will make it into my cookbook. 

Lentils - Another nutrient that I typically lack is iron and 1 cup of these babies will give you 40% of your daily iron, over 100% of your daily intake of molybdenum (which fights certain types of cancer, cavities, and metabolizes fat, iron and carbs) and has lots of dietary fiber. Lentils can help sooth digestive disorders and can help to prevent heard disease. My favorite way to eat lentils is in soup or in a quick majadra (lentils, brown rice and caramelized onions). 

Chard - I started buying Swiss chard last year at the Vineyard Farmer's market and I can't stop buying it now. First inspired to make sauteed chard by a video of a chef at Nutshell (RIP) in Portland and now I put it in anything and everything I can. I substitute it for spinach whenever possible; in soups and my personal favorite vegan enchiladas with sauteed potatoes, garlic and soy or almond cheese. Swiss chard is jam-packed with vitamins such as K, A, C, E, iron, magnesium, potassium calcium, B2, B6, protein and fiber.
Popcorn - ok ok, not exactly the most nutrient rich food but gosh darn it, it's delicious. It is high in fiber which aides in digestion, can prevent colon cancer and kidney stones. Jeff Halsey has perfected air-popped popcorn. He uses coconut oil to get it going then drizzles it with olive oil and sea salt. This could possibly be the best snack ever created.

Coffee - I used to be a soy cappuccino drinker, but this year I have discovered the beauty of a well brewed cup of coffee. They are very rare to come by, so I have discovered this year. It all started with a trip to Danville and a stop at Sideboard who brews Blue Bottle Coffee, one cup and I was in love. I am officially and addict (hello my name is Ali, and I can't stop drinking coffee). Studies have come and gone about the health benefits of coffee. A recent study has shown that drinking 4 cups of coffee a day can help reduce your risk of diabetes (but will give you a horrible stain on your teeth) and coffee contains anti-oxidants that help minimize the sign of aging. Overall I would say coffee is amazing, why have I not realized this sooner?


I'm thinking of writing a cookbook. Well, not really writing but compiling one to give to family and friends. As I am thinking about what to include, I am thinking about what I cooked this year and to be honest I haven't cooked as much as I would have liked. The year started out busy, as it typically does. Back to school, back to life, back to AP, swimming, History Day, Acadec and a new program Link Crew. Last winter I made a lot of soup and I found the beauty in freezing soup. I also realized how easy it is to make beans from scratch in the Crock-pot. In the spring I came down with a bizarre illness and food was not in the forefront of my mind. I didn't enjoy cooking or eating much so spring's recipes we mostly out of necessity. Jeff  learned how to cook a few great dishes (tempeh tacos and pasta) which as really helped out a lot this year. In the summer we ate lots of salads, corn and vegetables from our garden. This was the first year since I was a kid that I had my own vegetable garden and it was awesome (and economical) to make my meals from what I found in my backyard. One way to try to get rid of my illness was to relax, and I found gardening to be extremely rewarding and relaxing. Summer was spent reading books in my hammock, taking naps and gardening. This winter it's been all about lentils and beans. I can't get enough of them. We now have central heating so I can enjoy my house even on the coldest of days and can cook up a veritable storm. I'm back to my normal self again (with a little less vision but a much greater understanding of life) and ready for 2010. 

Next goals: write a kickbutt cookbook to share with family and friends, finish reading some books that have set unfinished for months or years, keep working on the house (the never ending story) and enjoy life's adventures. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Summer Camp

If you were like me growing up, summer camp was the paramount part of every year. Hartland rocked my socks off every summer for 9 years in a row. Some of my best friends are people that I met at Hartland and I have so many wonderful memories of all the fun we had. Last week I went to a conference in Southern California that was so summer campy, I loved it. It was extremely busy, hilariously entertaining and ultimately changed my outlook on teaching, my life and my school. For those of you who are educators, you know that the majority of conferences we attend are a waste of time, just some new jargon to get us through this years observations. But this conference was different. It's hard to put my finger on just what made it so good, but the only concrete example that comes to mind is the enthusiasm of the presenters. The information was good, the program was well thought out but the presenters and the "coaches" made all the difference in the world. I guarantee that you haven't walked into a room full off teachers singing "come on girl, ride that pony" and dancing with complete strangers without some sort of alcoholic libation involved, but it happened on multiple occasions at this conference. As educators we get so bogged down by the system and by other negative forces surrounding us, we forget that one of the key reasons we entered into the profession was to influence people, and it's very difficult to do that without enthusiasm. To conclude this post, I drank the kool-aide and I'm totally in support of this new program. I'm excited to get it started; it's rare to come across a program that I feel this strongly about and I'm stoked! So again, I have committed myself to yet another cause and I know it will work out. But now it's go time, Acadec super quiz this week, History Day, Swim season starts, AP is winding down, I'm taking an online class and now link crew. It will be nice when I don't have a big sticker on my forehead that says "untenured sucker", but until then I will try to stay afloat.