Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Slow Cooker Veggie Chili

Now that the weather is getting cooler (even here in the South), it is time for some more stews and soups! The recipe below makes a ton so adjust accordingly if you want less or if you have a smaller slow cooker. To make the below, you need a 6 quart slow cooker. I like to make a lot and freeze some. I usually don’t have as many fresh ingredients as I did today so please know that the peppers, carrots and sweet potato aren’t necessary. The sweet potato does add a nice flavor that the kids like however. Sometimes I will use less beans and throw in some veggie burger crumble.

This is great to make overnight or while you are at work. You can also prepare all of the ingredients and throw them all in together in the morning. If your cooker shuts off automatically cook for 6 hours on high. If not, set to low and cook for at least 8 hours. If your cooker is new you probably don’t want to throw everything in and leave the house for 10 hours. You will need to get familiar with your particular cooker to gauge exact cooking times.


Cooking Spray
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots or 10 baby carrots, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small green and 1 small red pepper, diced
Garlic, 2 generous shakes
Cumin, 2 shakes
Turmeric, 1 shake
Cayenne pepper to taste
Chili powder to taste
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans diced tomatoes
3 ½ cups water

1. Spray the slow cooker bowl with cooking spray.
2. Turn the slow cooker to high and add the olive oil while you chop the vegetables.
3. Add the onion, carrots, sweet potato, peppers to the slow cooker bowl. Add the spices and stir gently to coat.
4. If you have time, let the vegetables cook for 20 minutes before adding remaining ingredients.
5. Add the beans, tomatoes and water. Cook for 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cheesecake, Apple Pie, Oh My!

I am so excited to write about some of the delicious dishes we have made the past few weeks. A few weeks ago we went to an apple festival in Western North Carolina and made a very tasty applie pie (Best-Ever Apple Pie according to Southern Living) with the apples we brought back. Then this past week it was VeggieDaddy's birthday so the girls and I made some pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes. Yesterday morning we made a Slow-Cooker Meatless Guiness Stew and another with beef for (Not So) VeggieDaddy. And, finally, I picked up some "County Seat Caraway" aged gouda at the Farmer's Market that we will have this afternoon with some of my favorite North Carolina wine from the Raffaldini winery (for me) and VeggieDaddy's blueberry porter. So, let's get to it.

Double Apple Pie with Cornmeal Crust

A few weeks ago we went to the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. We love going to this area for weekend or overnight trips because it is just a few hours away and there are some great little wineries tucked amongst the hills. I came across the apple festival after our friend Sylvia told us she wanted to go apple picking like she did in upstate NY when she was a kid. There was no actual apple picking at the festival but there was food (including homemade ice cream which Lillian loved) and multiple stages of performers. Our favorite was the bluegrass stage in the old train station. They had a piece of plywood on the floor with some sawdust for dancing and Lillian cut a rug for quite some time, after she got over her shyness. And, before we left, we bought a huge bag of Golden Delicious apples. We ate many of them whole and made apple sauce and this pie with the rest. The pie was the best apple pie we have ever had!

Cornmeal Crust Dough


  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 T sugar
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chilled shortening, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 8 to 10 T chilled apple cider
  1. Stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a mixer bowl. Cut butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles small peas (I used the dough hook in my mixer).
  2. Gradually add the apple cider one tablespoon at a time.
  3. Gather the dough into 2 flat disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill 1 to 24 hours.

Apple Pie Filling


  • 4 1/2 lbs. apples (the original recipe called for 2 1/4 lbs of Granny Smith and 2 1/4 lbs of Braeburn apples. We used the Golden Delicious and a few Granny Smiths we already had)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 T apple jelly
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Cornmeal Crust Dough
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 T butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 t sugar
  1. Peel and core apples. Cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges. Place in large bowl and stir in the flour, jelly, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and sugar. Let stand 30 minutes, gently stirring occasionally.
  2. Roll out one disk of dough on a well-floured surface to about 1/8 inch thickness, or 11 inches wide. (You can do this on wax paper so it doesn't stick to the counter, I didn't have wax paper when I did this one so I sprayed the counter with non-stick spray and then sprinkled flour).
  3. Gently press the dough into a 9 inch pie plate.
  4. Spoon the apples into the crust, packing tightly and mounding in the center. Pour all but one tablespoon of the remaining juices over the apples. Sprinkle the apples with 3 Tablespoons of sugar and dot with butter.
  5. Roll out the remaining dough disk and place over the filling. Fold the edges under, sealing to the bottom crust and crimp. Brush the top of the pie with the reserved juices from the apples. Place the pie on a jelly-roll pan. Cut 4-5 slits in the top of the pie.
  6. Bake at 425 degrees on the lower oven rack for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and transfer the pie to the middle rack. Bake for 35 minutes. Cover loosely with foil to prevent excessive browning and bake 30 more minutes until crust is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced through the slits in the crust.
  7. Let cool before serving.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes

So VeggieDaddy's birthday was last Wednesday. Don't you hate a mid-week birthday? But, it did work out well this year when he was out the night before at a work dinner so the girls and I could make his birthday cake. The girls wanted to make cupcakes of course and he wanted cheesecake (his favorite) so we did cheesecake cupcakes! They were delicious. And it is very hard for us to finish a cheesecake on our own so I took some of the cupcakes to co-workers who also had birthdays last week!

Graham Cracker Crust:

  1. Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in the microwave.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix 3/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs with 1/8 cup of sugar. (You can buy graham cracker crumbs already crushed up at the grocery store which saves some time)
  3. Add the melted butter to the graham cracker mixture and stir together.
  4. Press about one tablespoon-full into individual cupcake cups. Foil cupcake cups would work best but we did the regular paper kind with birthday decorations on them and that worked fine.
  5. Don't pre-bake.

Pumpkin Cheesecake:

  • 3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  1. Beat cream cheese, 3/4 cup of sugar and vanilla with a mixer until well blended.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, until blended.
  3. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, pumpkin and spices.
  4. Bake 30-40 minutes at 300 degrees, until firm but not cracking.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.
  6. Mix the sour cream, sugar and vanilla, and spoon this mixture over the cupcakes. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and cool. Makes 18-24 cupcakes.

Slow Cooker Meatless Guiness Stew

This beef version of this recipe appeared in our local paper last week and I thought it would be a nice treat for VeggieDaddy on his birthday. Our plans for his birthday changed and we ended up not making the stew until yesterday. Yesterday was a drizzly day here so this nice hearty stew was perfect - we made the beef version which VeggieDaddy shared with our good friends, and this meatless version, which the girls and I ate.

  • 1 package (8 oz) Veat Chick'N Free Nuggets (Seitan would be good as well)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup Guiness Extra Stout
  • 1 can vegetable broth
  • 1 t parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb red potatoes, halved or quartered depending on the size
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry, cut into quarters.
  1. If using the veat or some other frozen product, thaw in the microwave. Toss with the flour and some salt and pepper.
  2. In a 4 quart slow cooker set on high, cook the onions and garlic until softened.
  3. Stir the Guiness into the onions. Add the meatless chunks, reserving the remaining flour.
  4. Add the vegetable broth and spices, and stir.
  5. Add the potatoes, carrots, parsnip and rutabaga on top and sprinkle the remaining flour over the top. Stir together.
  6. Cover and cook on high for about 3 hours, until the vegetables are cooked. If the liquid has not thickened, remove the lid for the last 1/2 hour.
  7. About 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, bake the puff pastry at 400 degrees until golden brown. Split the pastry in half lengthwise. Place 1/2 in the bottom of a bowl, spoon stew over and top with the other half of pastry.

Shout Out to NC Wines and Cheese

I'll end this marathon post with a little shout out to our local cheesemaker and our favorite NC winery. After we went to the apple festival in Wilkesboro, we stayed overnight at a hotel with an indoor pool (one step down from DisneyWorld in our kids' minds even though it was in the middle of nowhere - they are so easy) and went to the Raffaldini Vineyards and Winery the next day. Their Sangiovese was the first North Carolina wine I discovered that I really enjoyed, and their new tasting room and building transports you to Tuscany. We sat outside on the patio and drank a tasty Pinto Grigio while the girls frolicked on the grass and checked out the vines, which were heavy with the grapes ready to harvest. It was heavenly!

And then there is our favorite local cheese company - the Hillsborough Cheese Company. They sell their cheese every Saturday at our Farmer's Market and we have become regulars. We have a constant supply of goat cheese and feta and I picked up an aged gouda yesterday that I am hoping to have this afternoon with a glass of Raffaldini Pinot Grigio while the girls play in the yard. We might not have any grapevines in our yard, but sunshine and good wine and cheese mixed with my kids' laughter will be perfect!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Best New Veggie Burger Recipe

My Aunt just sent me this great veggie burger recipe. She oftens send us recipes she clips from the paper and they are always good. This one is the best veggie burger recipe I have come across. Most recipes result in a patty that is either too moist or too dry and ends up falling apart. This one holds together very well and tastes great. The "steaming" after browning seems to be key. Anyway, I hope others try and enjoy.

Oatmeal Walnut Veggie Burgers

2 eggs
3Tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 Tablespoons fresh herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup water

1. In a small bowl, combine eggs and 3 tablespoons water and mix well.
2. In food processor, process oats and walnuts until well processed, but not fine.
3. In mixing bowl, combine oatmeal/walnut mixture with shredded carrot, onions, herbs and garlic.
4. Add egg mixture and stir until thoroughly moistened. If mixture seems too moist, add some processed oats; if too dry, add more water.
5. Pour about 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil into skillet and heat over medium heat. Form mixture into patties and cook about 5 minutes per side, turning as needed to brown both sides.
6. Add 1/2 cup of water to the skillet and cover with a lid. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes until water evaporates.

Serve on buns with condiments as desired.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Peanutty Stew for Fall

I made this last week for dinner and served it with some brown rice and BOTH of my kids loved it. It is super easy and reheats well.

Creamy Butternut Squash Stew

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 butternut squash, seeded, peeled and cubed
1 onion, diced
1 can chick peas, drained
2 heaping tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 cups vegetable broth
Cayenne Pepper

1. Cook the onion until it starts to soften.
2. Add cubed sweet potato, butternut squash, cumin and cayenne pepper (to your taste - I use about a tablespoon of cumin and about 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper). Cook about 7 minutes until squash and sweet potato start to soften but not brown.
3. Combine 1 cup of vegetable broth with peanut butter and stir together. Add the broth mixture to the pan and stir together.
4. Add the remaining broth and bring to a boil. Cover. Turn down to low or medium low and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
5. Add the chick peas and cook for 5-10 minutes with the cover off. The stew should be thick and creamy.

You can serve this alone or over brown rice.

Monday, October 6, 2008

My Never Fail Dish: Eggplant Parmesan

The one recipe I make that never fails is my eggplant parmesan. You can get eggplant at the Farmer’s Markets in the Southeast right now so this is a great time of year to make it. For me, the key to this recipe is baking the eggplant, not frying. For kids, I think the key is all of the cheese! In any case, 1 eggplant with some pasta or a green salad makes a complete meal for us. The cheese gives us a fair amount of protein and if I want to up the vitamin content of the dish I will shred some carrots into the tomato sauce.

Eggplant Parmesan

1 large eggplant
2 cups Breadcrumbs
3 egg whites
Tomato sauce
8 oz. Mozzarella, grated
1 cup Parmesan, grated

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Slice the eggplant thinly, about ¼ inch.
3. Separate whites of three eggs into a shallow bowl.
4. Put breadcrumbs on a plate or in a shallow bowl.
5. Coat both sides of each piece of eggplant with egg whites and then bread crumbs.
6. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with olive oil spray.
7. Bake until browned, starting to crisp, about 45 minutes, turning halfway through.
8. Lower oven temperature to 350°.
9. In a 2 ½ quart casserole or baking dish, spread tomato sauce in a thin layer over bottom of dish. Place eggplant in a single layer over the sauce. Put a thin layer of sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle grated mozzarella and parmesan. Add eggplant in a single layer and repeat with sauce and cheese. Finish with layer of cheese on top.
10. Bake at 350° for about 35-40 minutes until cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Veggie Chicken Fajita Pasta

This is a great dish to make ahead or to throw together on a week night. I made this dish on Monday night, while making and cleaning up that night’s dinner, and reheated it for dinner last night. It reheated well but it is super quick and easy to make if you have 30 minutes to make before serving. The girls loved it and so did we. We did kick up the spice for ours though – adding the crushed red pepper. For Lillian’s we separated out the veggie chick’n from the pasta as she seems to prefer her foods “separated” these days:)


12 oz. egg noodles
8 oz. low fat sour cream
½ cup adobo sauce or enchilada sauce (depending on how much heat you want)
2 T lime juice
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
½ t crushed red pepper (more or less depending on how much heat you want)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 Anaheim chile pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
12 oz. Veggie chick’n strips (like Morningstar Farms Meal Starters)


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. In large bowl, combine sour cream, adobo sauce or enchilada sauce, lime juice and spices. We added the crushed red pepper to individual bowls after so the girls’ wouldn’t be too spicy.
3. Sauté the onion and peppers in olive oil for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the chick’n strips and cook until lightly browned.
4. Stir together the pasta, sour cream sauce and veggies and chick’n and serve!

How to Make Cauliflower as Enticing as French Fries

This recipe is unbelievably easy and the kids love it!

Roasted Cauliflower
Southern Living September 2008

2 T olive oil
1 head cauliflower
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Drizzle a baking sheet with 1 T olive oil. Cut cauliflower vertically into 1/4 inch-thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared pan. Drizzle cauliflower with remaining olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Bake at 425° for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

You could also add other spices to change it up a bit – cumin, cayenne pepper, etc.

Labor Day Mac-n-Cheese

This post is a little late (today is actually October 1) but I'll try to catch up on some September recipes so we can dig in to some yummy fall recipes this month - I am so excited for squash and other fall vegetables at the farmer's market!

I made this Mac-n-Cheese recipe for a barbecue we had on Labor Day. After people left that afternoon, I found myself wondering when we transitioned from parties that lasted until 3 am to backyard barbecues with the kids that ended by 3 pm? Probably about the same time we started serving dishes like this one . . .

I have this recipe scrawled on a piece of paper and I have to admit I am not exactly sure where it came from. I thought it was from Celia Rivenbark's Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank (Hilarious book!) but I don't think that's right. It may be from The Sweet Potato Queens' First Big Ass Novel by Jill Conner Browne. In any case, if you are looking for a tasty way to step-up your baked macaroni and cheese, check this out.


12 oz. pasta (shells or rotini)
1 stick butter
1/4 c flour
2 c milk
Salt & Pepper
1 lb cheddar or monterey jack + 1 c cheddar, grated
1 medium onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Tater tots
Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta.
2. Sauté diced onions and sliced mushrooms.
3. Melt butter in the microwave and stir in flour.
4. Heat milk on stove until hot but not boiling and stir into butter and flour. Add a dash of salt and some pepper to taste.
5. Stir until thickens and gradually add the 1 cup of cheddar.
6. In large bowl, stir together the cooked pasta, onions and mushrooms, and cheese sauce. Stir in the remaining cheese.
7. Pour into 13x9 pan and cover with a layer of tater tots. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
8. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

The tater tots sound over the top but it is delicious!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Friday Afternoon Ladies Lunch

The girls had last week off, their usual one week break between the beginning of summer session and before the beginning of the fall session. As always, the break brought on the usual juggling of schedules to cover childcare. My husband stayed home with the girls on Monday, my mother-in-law came Tuesday – Thursday, and I stayed home on Friday. My friend, Louise, came over for a doggie playdate and a visit with the girls on Friday. I made a chilled noodle salad with mango, based on a recipe from the June 2008 Vegetarian Times magazine for all of us girls (which paired nicely with a chilled Prosecco for the adults). It’s a great recipe for a summer afternoon, both for the kids and the adults.

Chilled Noodle Salad with Mango
(Adapted from the Vegetarian Times recipe at http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/10643?section=)

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper chili flakes

12 oz. wide Lo Mein noodles (the VT recipe calls for 8 oz. dried rice-stick noodles but I wanted something more substantial)
¾ cups thin carrot strips
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leaf lettuce
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
3/4 cup roasted peanuts, crushed

To make Dressing: Warm all ingredients in saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Cool.
To make Salad: Cook noodles according to package directions.
Drain noodles and toss with a dash of olive oil to prevent from sticking. Let cool. Toss noodles with 1/2 cup dressing and carrots, lettuce, basil, mint and cucumber. Arrange mango slices on top, and drizzle with remaining Dressing. Sprinkle with peanuts.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fun with Veggie Dogs

Our good friends had an Olympics Opening Ceremony party last Friday. They made an awesome spread complete with handmade empanadas, G’s famous homemade hummus, a fruit salad featuring the Olympic rings carved from watermelon rind, and veggie pigs in a blanket. This was the first of three meals we would have last weekend that featured the wonderment that is a veggie dog.

I know that some vegetarians poo-poo processed vegetarian products that resemble meat products, but I personally love them. It’s not that I miss meat and I personally don’t like any product that is too “meaty” but who doesn’t love the concept of the hot dog? You put it on a bun and add all kinds of things to it so that you don’t notice the consistency of the strange tube like thing you are eating – how American is that? And, as I plan to set out in this post, they are downright versatile.

So, first up, we have veggie pigs in a blanket. These couldn't be easier. Just cut some veggie dogs into thirds, wrap in dough and bake until golden. Our friends used leftover empanada dough (maybe if we're lucky they will post a comment with the recipe for their empanadas). We have used the biscuit or crescent roll dough that comes in a tube in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Kids love them!

On Saturday, we went camping and had (you guessed it!) veggie dogs over the camp fire for dinner! The key to roasting veggie dogs is not to leave them on too long. The casing can get a bit chewy if left on too long.

And, finally, for Sunday dinner:

Vegetarian Corn Dog Casserole
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups thinly sliced celery
1-1/2 cups sliced green onion
1-1/2 pounds vegetarian hot dogs
2 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (8.5 ounce) packages dry corn bread mix
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

Cooking Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a shallow 3 quart baking dish.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, then saute celery for 5 minutes. Stir in green onions, and saute an additional 5 minutes. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
Cut hot dogs lengthwise into quarters, then cut into thirds. In the same skillet, saute hot dogs for 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Mix hot dogs into celery and onions. Set aside 1 cup of this mixture.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, sage, pepper, and corn bread mix. Stir well to combine, then stir into remaining hot dog mixture. Mix in 1-1/2 cups cheese. Spread mixture into prepared baking dish. Top with reserved hot dog mixture and remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

From http://recipes.kaboose.com/corn-dog-casserole.html

This was tasty and the kids love it!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Eggplant Bulgur Casserole

I love casseroles because 1) it’s all in one – easy to serve, easy to clean-up; 2) it’s a great way to get more vegetables in my kids' diets; and 3) I am from the Midwest – doesn’t everyone from the Midwest love a casserole?

This is a great recipe for mid-week. I made it the night before I wanted to serve it for dinner and then we took it later in the week for lunch. The eggplants and tomatoes are from the local farmer’s market. Bulgur is a great whole grain that has a slightly nutty flavor. It is available by other grains and flours in most grocery stores. Instead of the Indian spices, you could use Italian herbs. We served it with goat cheese sprinkled over the top. Yum!

Eggplant Bulgur Casserole

2 medium eggplants, chopped into 1 inch square pieces
4 tomatoes
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
1 cup bulgur
2 cups water

1. Add mustard seeds to 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot and sauté over medium high heat until the seeds start to pop.
2. Turn down to medium heat and add onions and sauté for a few minutes until they start to soften.
3. Add the eggplant, tomato, cumin, turmeric and coriander and continue cooking over medium heat for about 5 minutes – eggplant should be starting to soften and skin may be browning.
4. Mix in the bulgur and cook for a few more minutes before adding the water. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Monday, July 28, 2008


My niece and nephew were visiting this past weekend so we decided to do something fun for our Saturday night dinner - Fondue party! My niece and nephew had never tried fondue and it had been awhile since we have made fondue with our kids. My husband and his family love fondue and made it for all birthdays when he was growing up. So we have made it a tradition in our house as well. It sounds cheesy (no pun intended) but kids love fondue! You get to stab things with a fork and dip it into yummy cheese - how can you go wrong? We always do cheese and chocolate. Getting the right consistency is always key with fondue, but with kids, it's even more important to have the right foods to dip. This weekend we had:
• 1 loaf whole wheat french bread – strategically cut so that each piece has at least one side of crust
• broccoli (not in season right now so store bought bag of florets to save time), blanched
• small pickles
• mushrooms
• baby potatoes, boiled until just starting to soften and cut in half

You can dip just about anything that is firm enough - try cauliflower, carrots, olives, cucumber, peppers, and garlic cloves. The kids loved it! They had a great time dipping and trying different things, figuring out which was their favorite.

We used a basic fondue recipe:


• ½ clove garlic
• 1 lb. Gruyere cheese
• 8 oz. Emmentaler cheese
• 1 ½ cups dry white wine
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 4 teaspoons cornstarch
• pepper
• pinch of nutmeg

1. Grate the cheese and toss with the cornstarch.
2. Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the cut surface of the garlic.
3. Mix together lemon juice and wine and heat in the pot over medium heat.
4. Once hot enough to melt the cheese but not boiling, begin adding the cheese one handful at a time, stirring until melted.
5. Stir constantly and continue adding the cheese until the fondue is a smooth and creamy texture. Add nutmeg and a few dashes of pepper.
6. Remove from the stove and place over a flame.

This makes enough for 4-6 adults. It could easily serve 6-8 adults if you started with a salad.

Then, of course, we did some chocolate fondue (see pictures above). Just heat about 1/4 cup of milk in a pan on the stove and add about 1/2 bag of chocolate chips, stirring constantly and removing when smooth and creamy. Chocolate fondue is easy to experiment with - we often do peanut butter and chocolate. This time, we added a handful of chopped chocolate mint from our garden (yes, there really are chocolate mint plants). We have a very small ceramic fondue pot that sits over a tea candle that is perfect for chocolate. This time, we just dipped strawberries, blueberries (from the Farmer's Market) and pound cake (keep pound cake refrigerated until serving to help it stay together). It was divine! I have to admit, the chocolate was a bit messy for the four-year-old but well worth it!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kid's Choice: Goat Cheese and Banana Muffins

We started our weekend at the Farmer's Market, buying produce and some of our favorite local cheese. The cheese booth has become a favorite. On a previous trip, the owner let Lillian wear a Cheesehead hat and ever since, that booth has been her favorite. And, we recently discovered that our girls love their goat cheese - Lillian picked out her own package of goat cheese this week (she picked a ball rolled in herbs). I know, goat cheese for a one and four year old! My husband says that he didn't even try goat cheese until he met me, which was in his mid-twenties.

We also picked up some great green tomatoes and corn on the cob. For Saturday night dinner, we had fried green tomatoes with a goat cheese roasted red pepper spread, corn on the cob roasted on the grill, and grilled tofu (marinated in olive oil, garlic, fresh basil and fresh oregano, which made a nice crust).

After dinner we made some vegan banana muffins with some over-ripe bananas we had. They turned out delicious - very moist. Lillian and I made them together with a recipe from Better than Peanut Butter & Jelly by Marty Mattare & Wendy Muldawer:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
3 T unsweetened applesauce
2 bananas, mashed
1 T water
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
Dash Cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with vegetable cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until blended. Spoon batter evenly into muffin pan. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from pan immediately. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

I reprinted this here without permission. You can buy this great cookbook here: http://www.amazon.com/Better-Than-Peanut-Butter-Jelly/dp/1590131223/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1216086093&sr=8-1 This cookbook was given to me by a great mom who loves to cook, Maria Mangano.

Wonders from the Summer Gardens (of Others!)

Last week brought some wonderful surprises in the produce department, especially in light of last week’s post (and the further encouragement to eat local in light of continuing salmonella outbreaks). My co-workers shared cucumbers, tomatoes (yellow and red!) and purple eyed peas. We are new to purple-eyed peas – but, being vegetarian, we are always open to the wonders of the bean world. So, amidst our usual hurried weeknight meals, we tried some new things.

The week started with the free cucumbers. I made cucumber almond gazpacho. My one year old loved it, but our four year old refused to try it. Her tastes change on a daily basis these days:) I love gazpacho because it’s so cool and refreshing in the summer and you can get very creative with ingredients. We have done cucumber gazpacho before but the almonds are new (I had a delicious almond gazpacho in New Orleans last month that served as the inspiration for this recipe).

Cucumber Almond Gazpacho


• 1 cup whole almonds
• 4 medium size cucumbers or 6 small, peeled and roughly diced
• 2 T fresh dill
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 T lemon juice
• 1 T olive oil
• 2 T white wine vinegar
• 1 cup water

Put dill and garlic in food processor and process briefly. Blanch almonds and peel. Add almonds and olive oil in food processor, and process for one minute. Add remaining ingredients and process until desired consistency. You will want to add more or less of the vinegar and water, depending on your taste and how thick you like it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Lilly's Eggplant Stew

Last night we made an eggplant stew that was a combination of Indonesian and Moroccan recipes we have used in the past. We served the stew with pineapple rice. The whole family loved it. I am calling it Lilly's stew because my daughter, Lillian, picked out the eggplant at the Farmer's Market.

  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 2 medium size sweet potatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 t ginger
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 1 t brown sugar
  • Cilantro, as much or as little as you like
  1. Saute over medium heat onion, garlic and sweet potatoes with a dash of olive oil and the ginger and crushed red pepper, until onion starts to brown and sweet potatoes start to soften. [I didn't have any fresh ginger on hand, and my husband isn't a huge ginger fan, BUT, if you like ginger, fresh ginger would be good. I only used a few pinches of crushed red pepper for the kids.]
  2. Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk, soy sauce and brown sugar in a bowl.
  3. Add the eggplant and chopped tomatoes with a dash of salt and continue to cook over medium heat for another two minutes or so.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk mixture and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer about 10-15 minutes - until the eggplant is soft and the sauce thickens.
  5. Serve with cilantro and sour cream, if desired, over a bed of pineapple rice.

For the pineapple rice, I used basmati rice made with about 3/4 cup of pineapple juice (the amount of juice in a can of pineapple chunks) and 1 1/4 cup of water. You could also add some garbanzo beans to the stew for some added protein.

As a side note, the coconut cream and pineapple juice were left over from making the "Tropsicles" in the July/August 2008 Vegetarian Times Magazine.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Eating Local

We buy locally grown produce, eggs and cheese as much as possible. We are very lucky to have great Farmer's Markets in our areas. We go to http://www.carrborofarmersmarket.com/ (which has a playground) and http://southestesfarmersmarket.com/. The South Estes market just started this year but has already grown to over a dozen booths.

The kids love to go and try the samples and walk around the market. It also helps to have them help pick out the items and help cook with them later. I find that my 4 year old is more likely to eat vegetables she has picked out herself!

To find out about eating local in your area, visit www.localharvest.org.