Vegetarian Borscht

borscht3My mom stopped at a farmer’s market the other day and picked up some beets. She likes the boiled and then in the fridge for salads.  I took several of them and made borscht. When my mom tried it – she kept telling me how much it reminded her of a meal my grandfather used to make called boiled dinner, and how much she enjoyed it. This is a great comfort food dish for the cooler days that are coming in, and is easy to make. It make a lot (easily feeds 6-8).

4 large beets, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 large turnip, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 cup cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
3 tablespoons dill if dried, about 1/4 cup fresh
salt and pepper, to taste
sour cream (a scoop on top before serving)

borsch5Over medium high heat, place the vegetables and liquids in the pot, then the herbs. Bring to a soft boil (about 20 minutes) then reduce heat to low and let simmer. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 40 minutes. I let it simmer for a couple of hours and let the vegetables absorb more liquid. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, and enjoy!

borscht4Notes – I like my soups thick. If you prefer a bit more broth add another 2 cups of water. This will work in a crock pot on low heat as well, cook for 4-5 hours.


Spicy Black Beans and Rice

rice1It’s football season and on Sundays I want to make something easy so I can relax and enjoy the games. Today I made a tasty and healthy rice meal with Mexican spices. This will serve 4 adults, and reheats well if any is left!

1 cup rice (uncooked)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 large stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (can add more cumin instead if you don’t have seeds)
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

rice4In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the onion, pepper, celery and spices. Saute for 3 minutes and add the rice. Stir together for another 3 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, add the broth and cover. Let simmer for about 20-25 minutes, the rice will have absorbed all the broth.  Add the beans and lemon juice and let them cook into the rice for a couple minutes. Serve right away.


Wild Rice and Roasted Vegetable Salad

salad11With the weather becoming cooler, I wanted to make a satisfying warm salad for lunch. I rarely use wild rice in recipes since it takes so long to cook, but I had other things to do around the house so starting the rice and vegetables and giving me time to do other things while they cooked was good today. This salad has lots of different textures, good flavors and even though we had it warm right away, it was delicious cold later on.

1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped
2 cups wild rice, cooked
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon olive oil

wildrice5I started with cooling my wild rice first since it takes about an hour of simmer time, following package instructions to make 2 cups.  When that has about 30 minutes left, preheat the oven to 400F and mix together the broccoli, cauliflower, olive oil, thyme, and basil. Spread them on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes  or until the vegetables are turning slightly browned.

wildriceWhen the vegetables are nearly done, place the pine nuts in a small skillet on medium high heat and toast for 3-4 minutes. Place the rice, vegetables, pine nuts, balsamic,  and half the feta cheese in a large bowl and mix together. Use the other half of the feta for sprinkling on the plates. Serves 4 as a smaller main dish or lunch and 6 as a side dish.


Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate

brussels3Brussels sprouts are an underrated vegetable. We only have them here a couple times a year – usually because when I serve them, no one even wants to try them. I also love pomegranates and was excited when I saw them at the store, and 1 had to come home with me. We were making some small steaks on the grill and instead of the normal salad or grilled asparagus we often have with them, I decided to put this together instead. The texture contrast and the bit of sweetness really made the dish pop, and for once, the brussels sprouts were eaten!


1 lb brussels sprouts
1 pomegranate, seeded
1 tablespoon balsamic vinagrette
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

brussels2Preheat the oven to 375F. Wash the brussels and remove any extra leaves, then cut in halves.  Place on a baking sheet, cut sides down and put the olive oil, salt, and pepper on top. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. They’ll just be starting to brown. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate and mix in the balsamic. Place the brussels in a dish and mix the pomegranate seeds in. Serve right away. Will make enough for 4-6 as a side dish.

Mahi-Mahi with Spicy Cilantro Sauce

sauce2I’ve said it before – I’m not a huge fish eater. I try to eat it for the health benefits, but I end up finding it boring and not filling enough. This however, has changed my view on fish and how to make whitefish taste delicious! It was also very easy to put together, and could be made a couple days in advance.

2 Mahi-Mahi filets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced without seeds
salt and pepper, to taste

sauce3Place the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, jalapeno, and cumin and cook until caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Next add the heavy cream and cilantro. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes before placing in a blender or using an immersion blender (I really need to get one of them). Place back in the pan over low heat and add salt and pepper if desired.

sauce4I cooked the mahi-mahi on the broiler in the oven – however cooking on the grill would work just as well. I set it to high and let it heat for about 10 minutes before placing the fish inside. Cook the fish for about 3 minutes, then flip over and cook another 3 minutes or until the fish is firm and opaque. Plate the fish and place the sauce on top and enjoy. I really could eat fish several times a week with a delicious sauce like this.

Notes – This makes a good amount of sauce and would easily work for 6 larger pieces of fish. We’ve decided that the leftover sauce will be used on salads tomorrow.  Despite having jalapeno I didn’t find it to be “hot”, however I was told it has a little kick.


Veggie Fried Rice

rice4I can’t believe how cold it got outside so fast. I’ve already brought out all my sweatshirts and sweaters and ready for fall.  Also, I’d gotten some vintage pots and bakeware from my family to sort through, so I haven’t had a lot of time to cook over the weekend. I wanted to make something simple, warm, and tasty without having to run to the store to pick up ingredients. This really hit the spot and the leftovers will be eaten up later.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 eggs
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 cups peas (fresh or frozen both work)
1 green pepper, chopped
4 cups cooked rice

rice2I didn’t have rice already cooked, so I started with getting that started and simmering. Then add the olive oil, onions, and green peppers to a large skillet or wok and cook for about 5 minutes. Next add in the peas and carrots, and cook for another 5 minutes. Whip up the 2 eggs in a bowl gently – and add the sesame oil, and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce. Mix until they are blended with the eggs.

Push the veggies to 1 half of the pan and slowly spread the eggs on the other half of the pan.  As the eggs are cooking, keep breaking them apart until they are in small pieces. Once the eggs are cooked, mix them into the veggies. Add in the rice when it’s done cooking and the rest of the soy sauce. Once all combined it’s ready to be eaten. Serve with more soy sauce on the side if desired.

rice3This made A LOT of food. It will easily feed 6 adults, or makes for good leftovers. The sesame oil really gives the dish more depth.

Note – Most “normal” soy sauces have gluten. We get several brands at my normal store that are gluten free however.


Mushroom “Pizza”

mushroom1At the grocery store the other day I spotted these big beautiful Portobello mushrooms. They looked so delicious, I had to bring them home with me. I made them into some personal “pizzas” for lunch. They were a huge hit, full of fresh veggies and parmesan cheese – and they only took about 20 minutes to make!

4 large portobello mushrooms
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup + parmesan cheese, shredded

mushroom2Preheat the oven to 425F. In skillet place the diced peppers, onions, and garlic and cook together for about 5 minutes. Clean out the insides of the mushrooms as best as you can gently with a spoon. Lay them on a baking sheet and fill them with the pepper and onion mix. Place the diced tomatoes on top, sprinkle the cheese and basil over the tomatoes and place in the oven for about 7 minutes. We sprinkled more cheese on top when they came out of the oven, but we’re cheese lovers here! Serves 4.


Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake

cheesecakeI’m celebrating the cooler weather with cheesecake. I love fall and all things about the season so what better way to welcome it than with a delicious cheesecake. The leaves changing colors is one of my favorite things, along with all the great fall foods. This cheesecake is easy to make – besides letting it sit in the fridge overnight. Knowing it was there drives me nuts!

crustFor the crust:
2 cups crushed gluten free graham crackers (I used an 8 oz box)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375F. Put the graham crackers in a large plastic bag and use a rolling pin to break them down. Combine with the butter and cinnamon and line a 9″ springform pan. (Now that I have one I swear by it for making cheesecakes – makes things so much easier) Press it up the sides of the pan a bit place it in the oven for 8-10 minutes, when the edges of the crust are starting to brown. While it’s cooling, prepare the batter.

cheesecake3For the filling:
2 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup apple cider
3 eggs

For the topping: (make this shortly before serving)
2 tart apples, peeled and sliced (gala and granny smith work well)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup apple cider


Preheat the oven to 325F.Place the softened cream cheese in a large bowl and mix until smooth. Next add in the condensed milk and cider. Add the eggs and slowly mix them in. The filling will look a bit thin – but this is ok. Place the springform pan with the crust in it on a baking sheet and carefully pour the filling into the crust. Bake for 45 minutes until the middle of the cheesecake is nearly set. Place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. If you aren’t using a springform – run a knife around the edge of the pan to help loosen it. Place into the fridge overnight and hopefully you won’t be thinking of cheesecake all night like I was.

cheesecake2For the topping, take 1 small sauce pan over medium high heat and cook the apple cider,cornstarch, and cinnamon together. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and stir occasionally, letting it thicken.Set aside and let it cool while preparing the apples. In a small skillet cook the apples in the butter for about 5 minutes. The apples will still be a bit crisp. Let them cool just a bit, then cover the top of the cheesecake. Carefully cover the apples with the cider sauce. You should let it sit in the fridge with the topping for a half hour – but we didn’t wait. I was ready for cheesecake right then and there, and it was delicious.

Notes: Apple cider and cornstarch should be gluten free. I got the cider locally and they assured me they have no gluten cross contamination. Cornstarch can also be produced in facilities with gluten – so you might want to check into the brands.



Palak Paneer

paneerI love Indian food and I crave it. Often it’s the hot and spicy food I crave, but on occasion I want a more mild dish, and this delivers great taste and a healthy dinner that everyone enjoys. I made my own paneer for it, which I think made it taste even better, although it’s time consuming. I enjoyed making something I’d never made before and even happier that it turned out right. Buying pre-made paneer works just as well for the dish.

paneer2For the paneer:
8 cups whole milk (1/2 gallon)
juice of 1-2 lemons

Use a large sauce pan and bring the milk to a slow boil over medium heat. Carefully stir it every couple of minutes so the milk doesn’t curdle or burn. This took me around 35 minutes to get it to this stage. Once it’s at a slow boil reduce the heat and slowly add the lemon juice. Add from about half a lemon at a time and carefully stir it. You’ll see the milk starting to combine together. I ended up using the juice of 2 whole lemons.

Once most of it has changed to curd – carefully strain it into a colander double lined with cheesecloth. Run a little cool water over the top to rinse off the lemon and let it sit for a couple minutes to let the water run out. I then took it and tied the cheesecloth together and hung it from the faucet for another 5 minutes to get more water out. After I got most the water I took the paneer and made it into a square brick – placed a plate with some weight on top of it and stuck it in the fridge for a couple of hours. After cool I was able to slice it into nice squares, and fried it in olive oil for just a couple minutes before adding to the sauce.

paneer3For the sauce:
1 pound spinach
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil

Over medium high heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion, and both the turmeric and cumin. Cook until the onion is turning translucent and then add the diced tomato. Cook together for a couple of minutes and add the spinach. It will take about 5 minutes to wilt most the spinach. Next use a blender and pour the whole mix inside and puree until it’s completely mixed together. Slowly pour it back into the pan and add the pieces of fried paneer. Turn the heat on low, add the heavy cream and let it simmer together for about 10 minutes.

paneer4I served it over rice, and should feed 3-4 adults. If you want it to be a bit more traditional, skip the heavy cream. My family doesn’t seem to like it as the thicker green sauce so I choose to lighten it up.

Tomato and Asparagus Quinoa Salad

quinoa3I wanted to make a light and refreshing lunch before the football game, and use up more of the tomatoes coming out of the garden. This warm salad really hit the spot with the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and salt from the feta.

1 cup of dried quinoa cooked to package directions
2 cups of asparagus, cut into larger pieces (1/2 a bunch)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon pepper

quinoa2Cook the quinoa to package directions and when it’s done place in a large bowl. While that’s finishing up, cook the asparagus pieces for about 4-5 minutes over medium heat with just a touch of olive oil. Just enough to cook it while keeping it crisp. Add the olive oil to the quinoa and give it a couple stirs to mix it together. Then add the asparagus, tomatoes, feta, and pepper and mix well. This is fantastic excellent warm or cold. Will make enough for 3-4 for lunch.