Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mushroom Shawarmas

Mushroom Shawarmas

Shawarmas are Middle Eastern street food. In Abu Dhabi they were usually just meat roasted on a spit, then shaved off into a pita with garlic paste, French fries, and pickles. So, the funny thing about this recipe, which I have spent years “getting right,” is that I should have known it would be way better with mushrooms than chicken. We went from starting out using chicken breasts in this recipe to chicken thighs because there was never really enough “juice.” Which is why, when I made these last night and my husband oohed and ahhed, and said they were the best I had ever made, I felt pretty satisfied. J

So, without further ado, my shawarmas. There is going to be a great deal of chatter and explanation because these are definitely NOT measured out and each time I make them, it just gets better.

What You Need:
A package of the thinnest pita bread you can find (in Arabia, it is suuuuper thin, and the teensiest bit sweet-ish), or make your own. Here is a recipe I have used before:

Cheap, frozen (crinkle) French fries, about 2 cups unless you want to eat them as a side too, which we normally do. Cook them separately according to package directions.

About a half a cup of thinly sliced pickles (dill). If you can find the real thing at a local Arab market, they will taste more authentic, but dill works just as well too.

For the Mushroom Filling:
½ white onion, chopped

1 lb of mushrooms, sliced (I used button mushrooms but after making it, I realized the sturdy, earthy nature of sliced portabellas would have been amazing as well.)

1 tbsp olive oil

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then the onions and sauté until they begin to appear translucent.

Ok, now here is where it gets tricky. The rest of this is by estimation/sight and has never been measured. 

This is the marinade for the mushrooms:
In a large bowl, whisk together the following:
3 TBSP olive oil
Juice of half a lemon (at least a tablespoon… use a press, or juice a whole one by hand)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp each: black pepper, cardamom, paprika, turmeric, garlic powder, and onion powder

Now, add a “dash”, like, legit not enough to even measure, just enough so you can see it sitting on the top of the previous addition, of the following:
Nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice (be SUPER careful with this one), and ground clove

Now whisk that up really good, it will be pretty thick. Add the sliced mushrooms to the bowl and toss until they’re evenly coated.

Add the mushrooms to the onions and cover. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are cooked through and have created a nice juicy sauce.

For the garlic paste:
3 bulbs (not cloves, the whole bulb) of fresh garlic, peeled
¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
1-3 cups of Olive oil (I buy a new container and depending on the success of the emulsion, you may use most of it.

Ok, this is the part that has taken the longest to get right. Add the garlic, lemon juice, and salt to a blender and pulse until the garlic is mostly chopped and the ingredients have combined. Now, turn on the blender to a medium speed and SLOWLY drizzle in the olive oil in a thin, continuous stream until about half of the bottle has gone in. If you are going slow enough, the mixture will emulsify and become a thick, white paste. If you rush it and pour too quickly, it will either be too runny (though still delicious) and it will likely separate. So again, slowwww pouring. If it gets too thick and won’t spin, that’s probably the best you’re going to get without separating it, so call it good and enjoy this heavenly mixture.

To assemble the shawarmas: Heat a pita so it is warm and pliable (just 15 seconds or so in the microwave), smear garlic paste on one side of the whole thing, add about a quarter of a cup of the mushroom mixture, as many pickles as you’d like, and top with the cooked fries. Fold in half so it is sandwich-like, and enjoy! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spinach Mango Avocado Macadamia Nut Salad

Long name, amazing yum. We will be having this OFTEN. The original recipe comes from Healthy. Happy. Life. I don't like arugula so I switched it for spinach and it was incredible. I ate it for lunch two days later and it was STILL amazing. Yum.

Spinach Mango Avocado Macadamia Nut Salad
inspired by Dole's Salad Summit - makes one giant bowl

1 large mango, cubed
1 avocado, diced
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, roasted/salted
5 cups fresh arugula

optional add-in's: sweet onions, diced apple, diced pineapple ... more

dressing (or use your own recipe):
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp agave syrup
dash garlic powder


1. I made a quickie salad dressing out of a few of my favorite flavors. Whisked it together and tossed it with the salad ingredients - except the arugula!

2. I tossed the avocado, mango and nuts with the salad dressing - then poured it right over the greens. I didn't toss the salad together until we were ready to serve the salad. Otherwise the arugula would get quite soggy.

3. Top with fresh black pepper! Serve!

Sweet Potato Veggie Burger

This recipe is from Healthy. Happy. Life. These were a pain to make because they handled weird and were hard to bread and get in the pan, BUT, when they did, they were awesome! I made a sweet mustard sauce with brown mustard and agave and soaked some chopped onions in apple cider vinegar and water to give the onions a little more bite. Otherwise, I made them as-is. The kids ate them easily and Kaden declared them to be "SO good!"

Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers
makes 7-8 large patties

2 cans cannellini white beans, drained
1 large sweet potato, baked/peeled/mashed (about 2 cups)
2 Tbsp tahini
2 tsp maple or agave syrup
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning OR Cajun seasoning (or another fave spice!)
1/4 cup wheat flour
optional: additional seasoning (whatever you have on hand - I used a few dashes cayenne, black pepper and a scoop of nutritional yeast)
salt to taste if needed

plentiful Panko crumbs
safflower oil for pan

burgers: avocado, Dijon mustard, grain buns, romaine, onion, olive oil, pepper


1. Bake sweet potato. Peel, place in large mixing bowl.
2. Add drained beans to mixing bowl. Mash beans and potato together.
3. Mash in seasoning, flour and any additional seasoning. Your mixture will be quite soft and moist. But you should be able to form a patty. Add more flour or a scoop of breadcrumbs - or dry rice to thicken the mixture if needed.
4. Heat 1 Tbsp safflower oil in a pan over high heat.
5. Form a patty from mixture and coat in Panko crumbs. Thick coating. Then drop the patty in the pan. Repeat until the pan is filled. Cook until browned on both sides. You could also bake. If baking, use less Panko.
6. Transfer cooked patties to paper towel. Cool for a few minutes.
7. Serve on toasted bun with lotsa toppings.

Note: yes this patty does fall kind of apart as you eat it. But that is OK because it tastes yummy. 

Quinoa Caesar Salad

This recipe comes from Post Punk Kitchen and is fabulous as-is. Mimi stopped by to see the kids and we were having this for dinner and she said it was good too. J We will definitely be having this again.

Quinoa Caesar Salad

For the Breaded Tofu:
3/4 cup fine storebought breadcrumbs (I use whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
14 oz extra firm tofu, sliced into 8 slabs widthwise
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
For The Briny Caesar Dressing:
1/2 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
1 head roasted garlic (about 10 cloves, see tip)
2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 cup capers, with some brine
3/4 cup water
Several dashes fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

For the rest:
6 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
8 oz chopped romaine
4 oz baby arugula (or chopped arugula)
1 avocado, cut diced into 1/2 inch pieces

Make the Breaded Tofu:
Preheat a large non-stick pan, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. On a dinner plate, use your fingertips to mix together the breadcrumbs, dried herbs and garlic. On a separate plate, pour the soy sauce.
Place a tofu slab in the soy sauce, and toss to coat. Then dredge them in the breadcrumbs, tossing to coat. (Use your dry hand to handle the tofu in the breadcrumbs, otherwise you’ll get a crumb mitten on your hand.) Put coated tofus off to the side of the plate and continue until all tofu is coated. Put a thin layer of olive oil in the pan, and then transfer tofu cubes to the pan. Let cook for a few minutes then flip, using a thin metal spatula so that you don’t scrape off the breading. Cook for about 7 minutes total, adding a little extra to the pan as needed, and flipping occasionally until browned on most sides.
Once browned, remove from pan and slice on a bias into 1/4 thick pieces.
Make the dressing:
Simply add all of the ingredients to a small blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Scrape down the sides every now and again to make sure you get everything. Thin with a little water, if necessary. Keep tightly sealed and refrigerated until ready to use. Keeps for up to 5 days.

Assemble the salad in a very large mixing bowl. Toss the greens with the quinoa, and then add the dressing. Serve topped with tofu and avocado!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Asian Fusion Salad

Asian Fusion Salad

1 head red leaf lettuce
1 cup snow peas
1 large cucumber
1 sweet red bell pepper
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
2 carrots
8 oz. flavored baked tofu of your choice (e.g., teriyaki, sesame, ginger, peanut, spicy Thai, etc.)
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. Thai chili paste (or other chili sauce)
1/2 cup bottled salad dressing of your choice (e.g., sesame shiitake, lemon tahini, cilantro lime, etc.)
• Wash and tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Drain thoroughly and place in a large salad bowl. 
• Trim the tips from the snow peas and cut on a diagonal slant into 1-inch slices. 
• Peel the cucumber and julienne (cut into thin, narrow slices 1 to 2 inches long). 
• Cut the red pepper in half and remove the seeds and pith. Cut it into thin slices and then cut the slices diagonally into thirds. 
• Rinse and drain the bean sprouts. 
• Julienne the carrots and blanch them by submerging them in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain. 
• Add the snow peas, cucumber, red pepper, bean sprouts, and carrots to the salad and make an indentation in the center of the salad.
• Cut the tofu into 1/4-inch slices and then cut crosswise to make bite-sized pieces. 
• Stir together the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili paste. Pour over the tofu and toss. 
• Add the tofu mixture to the center of the salad just before serving.
• Serve with the salad dressing of your choice tossed in or on the side.
Makes 8 servings

Read more:

Spicy Sesame Noodles

Spicy Sesame Noodles

2/3 cup (150 g) peanut butter
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 lb. (225 g) linguine
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
• In a saucepan, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, and green onion and mix well.
• Add the sesame oil and cayenne pepper. Heat slowly, whisking until smooth.
• Meanwhile, cook the linguine according to the package directions. Drain.
• Place the linguine in a large bowl, add the peanut sauce, and toss to coat. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.
• Serve hot or cold.
Makes 4 servings

Read more:

Scallion Pancakes.

These were amazing. We will definitely be having them again. This was from the PETA website as well. Find the original recipe here.

Scallion Pancakes

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cool water
3 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
Salt, to taste
2 bunches green onions, finely chopped
Vegetable oil for frying
Soy sauce, to taste (optional)
• In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the water until it forms a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes. Place it in a bowl, cover, and set aside for 30 minutes.
• Roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Spread a thin layer of vegetable shortening over the entire surface then sprinkle generously with salt. Top the entire surface with the green onions, pressing them lightly into the dough.
• Beginning at one edge, roll the dough into a long jelly-roll shape. Pinch or twist off (do not cut) fist-sized pieces of dough. On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll each piece to 1/8-inch thickness. If some of the green onions come out, just push them back into the dough.
• Pour vegetable oil into a skillet until it is about 1/4 inch deep. Heat the skillet over medium heat then add 2 or 3 of the pancakes. Cook for approximately 3 minutes on one side then flip and cook for 2 more minutes before placing the pancakes onto a paper towel-lined plate. Salt to taste and serve immediately with soy sauce for dipping, if desired.
Makes 10 to 12 pancakes

Read more:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kale Salad with Miso-Maple Dressing

Ok, so kale is so yummy, but my very favorite salad EVER, is this kale salad with this dressing. This recipe comes from Eat Your Greens. It is perfect. I had something very similar in Sun Valley while travelling for work and this is how I found her site, because I was trying to copy what I had up there.

Everyone must have this! But, because the salad featured is super time consuming, I make it a quick week-night side dish by only using the kale, dressing, some dried cranberries, and chow mein noodles. My kids especially love it and I am happy they are having their greens.

Rye Berry, Roasted Pumpkin, and Kale Salad with Miso-Maple Dressing

1 cup rye berries
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow miso paste
1 teaspoon Grade B maple syrup
2 tablespoons walnut oil
3 cups kale (about 1/2 bunch), stems removed, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped

Combine the rye berries, salt and 3 1/2 cups water in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and let simmer for 1 hour, or until tender. (I make a larger batch and then toss them in dishes throughout the week. They are amazing.)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the pumpkin on a sheet pan and toss with the grapeseed oil. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through baking.
In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, miso paste and maple syrup until smooth. Slowly whisk in the walnut oil. Place the kale in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Massage the dressing into the kale, until the leaves are soft and pliable. Add the cooked rye berries, the pumpkin and the remaining dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle the almonds over the top and serve warm or at room temperature.

Vegan Pesto Tortilla Pizza

This one is a cinch, but oh so yummy! I found this on the PETA website. It literally takes minutes.

8 small flour tortillas
1 cup vegan basil pesto (or make your own)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup pine nuts
olive oil, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spread pesto over the tortillas, top with tomatoes, sprinkle on the pine nuts. (We also added mozzarella flavored soy cheese, it was great!)

Bake for 10 minutes or until tortillas are crispy, drizzle with olive oil, if desired, and serve. Yummo!


So, because of Facebook, I don't blog at all anymore. Sad, I know. But I don't have much time for it anyway, so it's probably ok. :) However, I have been frustrated with my recipe storage methods and I keep forgetting amazing meals we have that should be "family favorites," but that I fully forget about and we never have again. I was toying with creating an online recipe collection somewhere that I can store and access them any time... then I remembered: I HAVE A FOOD BLOG. Idiot.

So, I am going to be archiving my favorite recipes on here now so I can easily access ALL of them, like I already do with 5 or so I repeatedly make off this blog. Most of them are not my recipes, so I will link the post where I found them, but some (ok, most) I have altered somewhat and I will note that as well. :)

Also, for some background (because it's going to become apparent otherwise)... we have switched to a vegan-style diet (I say vegan-style because people are fucking stupid and when you say that word, it creates a mindset where they want to "catch" you with an animal product, or hyper-focus on the products and choices you are making to show you where you're wrong. This isn't why I want to be vegan. More below.) as a family and so my recipes will mostly be animal-product-free and I am trying to eliminate as many preservatives and synthetic ingredients as possible from our diet.

So, this begs the question, "What the heck for?" Good question. Well, beginning in September of 2013, I got sick... your normal gross head and tummy stuff, just basic sick. Then a few days later, my Dad was paralyzed in a car accident which increased my stress level 10 fold, and from that point until the beginning of the year, I was sick almost exclusively (and I gained 20 pounds in two months)... I would get "better" from one sick and then a few days later, immediately get another sick. I had everything! Chronic bronchitis, sinus infections, colds, the flu, norovirus, and eventually, pneumonia. All in a matter of 3 months. I thought I was dying. I know this year has been tough on almost everyone in the sick department, but my hair was being limp and weird, I had the worst eczema flare up that I have ever had, that would not get better, regardless of creams that typically work fine. So I started to wonder if this was more of an issue than I thought.

This lead me to an embarrassing amount of research on immunity (70% of your immune response is directly related to the health of your gut, just FYI. :)), diet, and chronic illnesses. I watched dozens of videos and documentaries, I read even more research studies and meta-analyses of research spanning decades, and eventually, I came to the conclusion that I needed to change my diet. I was eating too much crap, and not enough "real" food. And then I watched a documentary called Vegucated. I would highly recommend it, but it was the final catalyst that made me decide that to make a true change for my health and my family, it needed to be to a fully plant-based diet. We have tried saying we will "eat less meat" in the past, but with all of the research I have done, I am convinced that animal products do not need to be in our diets as humans, and with the current state of big agriculture, industry practices in the beef, pork, and dairy industry are downright revolting and simply not nutritious. Antibiotics and genetic engineering are more prevalent than they have ever been and only history will be able to tell what we have gotten ourselves into as a culture and how it will impact our health.

As far as the health side, I have always been very concerned with what I feed my kids, and this has just reaffirmed why I care so much. There are correlations all over the place between dairy and meat consumption and health. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says vegans are less likely to develop a whole host of illnesses including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

And then there is the impact on the planet that meat production has. I could literally go on and on, but I will spare you. The point is, we decided this is the best choice for our family right now. I am not trying to live by a label and I certainly don't want to say "we don't eat _____". But I want to try to keep my family as healthy and happy as possible (vegans have lower instances of depression and anxiety than meat eaters, hehe). BUT, I have found a ton of alternatives to meat and dairy that we have easily implemented in our diet, and I am loving trying all the new recipes I am finding. So here's to this new adventure! (Also, I've lost 21 pounds a counting... I still have 40 to go, but I have been on a slow and steady course of weight loss since my birthday in the beginning of February so I am very happy with my progress so far). My goal is to be the healthiest I have ever been by my 30th birthday this coming year. Readyyyyy, set, GO!