Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

My mom was about to eat cereal for breakfast, but I decided to make these breakfast tostadas. Although she loves cereal, I think she was happy that she decided to have my breakfast instead.


  • Corn tostadas. They look like this:

  • chopped onions
  • chopped green peppers
  • corn (I used canned)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • chopped tomatoes
  • eggs
  • shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
  • 1 lime
  • sour cream
  • guacamole

1. In olive oil, sauté the onions, bell peppers, and corn until they caramelize and slightly brown. Add minced or pressed garlic and season; I used Goya Adobo seasoning and a Southwestern blend. Season to your taste.

2. Beat eggs—I usually do two per person—with a splash of milk. I seasoned my eggs with adobo as well. Just scramble these however you like.

3. In the microwave, melt a layer of shredded cheese on the tostadas (about 30 seconds). Build the tostada by layering with eggs, onions and peppers, and chopped tomatoes, respectively. Squeeze some lime juice over the top. I garnished it with half of a lime slice, twisted. Sour cream and guacamole are the perfect condiments for the dish.

My parents ate this like a pizza, and I ate it with a fork and a knife. This is a satisfying meal without the need for sliced bread. All three of us loved it. Make this dish your own. If you like jalapeños, add them!

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I boiled beats for a beat salad that I will make with dinner tomorrow. I couldn’t throw away the ample amount of red-veined greens and found that they were definitely edible. Beet greens are very similar to spinach and are good substitutes. Like spinach, beet greens have oxalic acid, which can prevent the absorption of the calcium in the leaves. Cooking can slightly reduce the oxalic acid in the food. Thus, cooked spinach and beet greens are actually healthier than, for example, a spinach salad. For future reference, the addition of calcium is a great way to remove the slight bitterness of these greens because it reacts with the oxalic acid. Cooking with olive oil can also help reduce the bitterness.


  • 2 bunches of beet greens (about 8 small beets)
  • 1/2 can of Northern Beans, thoroughly washed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic sliced (depending on size)
  • 1/2 a large white onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • enough beef broth to coat the pan (You can substitute water… just adjust seasoning)

Just thoroughly wash the beet leaves, as they contain a sufficient amount of grit. Rip off the stems, and wash again. Then, roughly chop the greens (they do not have to be perfectly dry). Sauté chopped white onions in olive oil until they just begin to brown. Add three to four cloves of garlic, cut into slivers. After seasoning the onions with salt and pepper, add the greens: about two big bunches; they will completely fill a large pan. Also, add 1/2 a can of Northern beans and the beef broth. Round off the dish with some more seasoning and a tablespoon of soy sauce.

This is a great healthy side dish with lots of vitamin A and calcium. The greens are a little less mushy than spinach and the soy sauce adds a great savory flavor. Beans are a good match as well. This preparation suits escarole, swiss chard, and kale too!

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“Chai-Oh-Tay”  is a plant that belongs to the gourd family. It is also known as a Mexican squash. It is pear-shaped, green, and has a texture similar to water chestnuts or potatoes. Some say its texture is like cucumber. I disagree. Nonetheless, it has a great texture and can be eaten raw or cooked. It lacks substantial flavor and is usually marinated in lemon or lime juice. I found it at the market and had to try it, so I could put a taste to the name. I wanted to try it cooked and raw.

Chayote Salad:

I just julienned the chayote (very thin strips) with similarly cut celery and carrots. I tossed the vegetables with minced red onion—the one I grew—, olive oil, lime juice, fresh chopped mint, and minced ginger. A little salt and fresh pepper and you have a simple, light, crunchy salad.

Sautéed Chayote:

I sautéed Chayote cubes in olive oil—you could use butter—with garlic, my homegrown white onions, fresh parsley, lime juice, and Old Bay seasoning. I will admit, when cooked, chayote has the texture of a cucumber. I’m partial to the raw chayote. I will buy it again to add great texture to salads.

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It tastes a lot better than it looks in this picture

This dish materialized based on what ingredients I had in the fridge. You’d be surprised how much money you can save if you use what you’ve got instead of buying more ingredients or eating out. This dish was as tasty and hearty as any meat lasagna. The vegetables all have similar cooked textures, the hot sauce warms the body, and the cheese is ooey-gooey goodness.


  • 1 eggplant
  • panko (japanese breadcrumbs) or normal bread crumbs
  • zucchini and squash (Mine were enormous and I used half of each)
  • 3 eggs
  • milk
  • oil (canola or olive oil blend)
  • A bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 jar of tomato sauce.

1. Cut the eggplant into slices. If you are a perfectionist, somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch. Whisk the eggs with a splash of milk. First, dip the slices in the egg bath. Next, coat the slices in a mixture of panko or bread crumbs. My panko wasn’t seasoned, so I added garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme leaves. Fry in oil over medium heat until they brown. You may need to do these in batches; just add more oil when you need it. Degrease over paper towels.

2. Slice the zucchini and disperse on a foiled sheet pan. Use a pastry brush (very handy tool) to coat the slices with EVOO. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, flip the slices, and repeat. Similarly prepare the squash on a separate sheet pan.

3. Bake the eggplant, zucchini, and squash in the oven at about 400°.  Flip the zucchini and squash after 5-6 minutes. Remove them when they are tender, but not mushy. The eggplant may need more time. Few things are worse than undercooked eggplant.

4. I doctored up a store bought tomato sauce by sautéing pressed garlic in EVOO. You can also add thyme, oregano, or some wine.

5. In a casserole dish, layer some eggplant, some zucchini, some squash. Spoon the sauce and sprinkle a healthy coating of mozzarella. Parmesan cheese, on every layer, is imperative. Repeat about three times. Use the rest of the sauce on the top and completely cover with cheese.

6. Bake in a 400º oven, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and just beginning to brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

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My dad brought home four stalks of Rhubarb. I had never cooked it before, but found it in a lot of dessert recipes online. It looks like celery except twice as long and red-purple colored. I researched jam recipes and formulated something of my own. I cut down the ingredients a bit and the time dramatically.

Cook time: 30 minutes. Ready to eat in an hour and fifteen.


  • 4 stalks of Rhubarb
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 peach.

1. In a large sauce pan, cook the ingredients over medium heat for thirty minutes. I used a paring knife to peel a peach and added that as well (after I diced it).† Stir occasionally at the onset, but, gradually, stirring becomes more necessary. During the last ten minutes, the jam will probably require constant stirring to prevent sticking and the formation of dangerous bubbles. If the bubbles start spewing molten-hot sugar in the air, please turn down the heat for your own safety.

2. It is done when you can scrape the bottom of the pan and actually see the bottom. Also, take a heaping spoonful of the jam; if it falls to the bottom in one stream, it’s ready. Mine fell in a couple globs, but it looked spreadable and it continued to set in the fridge. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes♣.

The jam came out perfectly. It had a great consistency for only 30 minutes of cooking. Although it had no smell for some reason, it tasted fantastic, despite the fact that most things with this much sugar taste great. I would have never known that this was Rhubarb!

† You may also throw the peach in boiling water for 1 minute. this should make the skin come off with ease. Be sure to remove the pit! I added the peach because peaches have more pectin than rhubarb does. Pectin is a type of carbohydrate found in the cell walls of certain fruits. Fruits like apples and peaches have lots of pectin. Some fruits require the addition of Pectin to make a proper jam. You can find Pectin in some stores.

♣ you can store your jam in a glass jar. I filled a 6 oz jar. They are very cheap at Walmart!

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This salad was the second appetizer in our Sophisticated Soirée. I founds the combination of goat cheese, honey and thyme in another recipe. I decided to use the flavors in my own appetizer, involving puff pastry. This recipe couldn’t be easier and it apparently even sounds good when spoken. I guess titles are important parts of Dishes. I could have called them Cheesy Honey and Herb Pastry Discs. I guess that sounds a little less enticing.

  • I bought pre-made puff pastry. It came in a package of two. Allow it to thaw (it comes frozen) for 10 to 15 minutes or until it becomes malleable. Roll it with a rolling pin, on a well-floured surface, until it is even. I bought spreadable goat cheese that came in a fist-sized container and slathered it on. I suggest buying another container for two sheets of puff pastry.
  • Slather on a generous layer, covering the entire sheet. Drizzle liberally with honey and sprinkle with thyme leaves. Roll the puff pastry, forming a log, and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove it from the freezer and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Let the slices sit for about ten minutes and preheat the oven on 375°. Cook until golden brown and puffy. Try one. If it’s doughy, keep it in longer.

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This was the first course of a five course meal that I prepared for my friends. The theme was class, sophistication, and elegance. This dish embodies them all. Served in a Martini glass, this salad is colorful, light, and refreshing.

  • Cut the avocados, mangos and tomatoes into similar sized cubes. A good ratio is 1:1:1. This will yield mostly mango, some avocado, and a little tomato. This creates the best balance. They should be, at most, half of an inch in length, width, and height.
  • Make sure that the fruits are as ripe as possible. Ripe mangos are usually a bit yellowish in color, tender to the touch, and fragrant. The avocado flesh should give a little when pressed, yet should not feel mushy. After this test, take the stem off the avocado; if the flesh is a green color, you’re in business.
  • Make a dressing by chopping a large handful of fresh cilantro very well. Add 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of Extra-virgin olive oil and the juice of one lime (The zest is a great addition as well). Season with salt and pepper and, for sweetness, add 1-2 tablespoons of honey or agave syrup.
  • Slowly add the dressing to the salad, while mixing. It is important that the dressing only coats the fruits. Serve in an elegant cup and wow your guests. Heck, put some on a burger and eat it, alone, in your underpants.

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Stir frying is great because you can get a variety of vegetables in one meal and get to use a wok. Mine is composed of chicken thigh strips, carrots, broccoli, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, zucchini, and chinese noodles in a sweet and salty asian-style sauce.


  • 2 bags of stir fry vegetables including:
    • broccoli
    • carrots
    • snap peas
  • I used an extra bag of snap peas
  • 2 handfuls bean sprouts
  • 1 package (4 bundles) of asian noodles. Honestly, I don’t know the variety.
  • 1/2 white onion chopped in slivers
  • 1 can of water chestnuts
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • 5 eggs (vegans: just omit)
  • 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (vegetarians: simply disregard)

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (I used press)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger (I used food processor)
  • 2 teaspoon sesame seeds (toasting never hurts)
  • 1 teaspoon Tamari
  • 1 teaspoon Hoisin (Asian barbecue sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (thickener)
  • 6 teaspoons of sugar (you can use some honey too)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 a lime juiced
  • chopped scallions

1. Cut the chicken into slivers and the vegetables into bite-size pieces. Cook the chicken half way in a wok with some canola oil and some sauce. Remove the chicken and cook 1/2 the vegetables with more sauce. Save the bean sprouts for the end. Repeat for the other vegetables. Cook all the veggies and chicken, pouring in the remaining sauce.

2. Boil the noodles until tender, drain thoroughly, and dump in the wok. Scramble the eggs in a pan over high heat, but do not let the eggs brown or they will have a harsh, rank, eggy taste. Mix them in as well. I added more hoisin, soy sauce, and 1/2 cup of duck sauce to thicken and sweeten. Without corn starch, it is necessary. Add the bean sprouts, simmer, and serve with chopped peanuts for garnish.

Don’t be alarmed by the number of ingredients. You will need no side dish with this meal. This meal is a cornucopia of textures and tastes simple, notwithstanding the never-ending list of ingredients. Since asian food involves few spices, they rely on certain condiments for flavor. Many of these should be household staples because of their long shelf-life. This dish fed eight perfectly. Feel free to halve the whole recipe. Finally, it’s cheap and easy on your wallet, yet generous when it comes to your palate.

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No meat in the house! We did have spinach and ricotta cheese, the main ingredients in my ravioli. I immediately regretted making the dish. I have no mixer or pasta maker, so I had to make everything by hand. Soon enough, the dough was crumbly, the counter tops were cakes with wet, sticky dough, and my shirt was coated in flour. Eventually, I tamed the dough and made the ravioli. I’ll admit that I will never make ravioli again without a pasta maker.

Dough Ingredients (1 dough ball):

I made two dough balls. I suggest not making one big batch because the dough is easier to work with cold.

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Dough Preparation:

I made mine in an unconventional way, but I found that it worked the best. Whisk all except the flour in a large mixing bowl and slowly add flour. Switch to a mixing spoon and continue until a dough ball forms that is not sticky. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Filling ingredients:

  • Two handfuls of spinach chopped into very small pieces
  • A few roasted red peppers minced
  • About 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • A tablespoon or so of pesto
  • sprinkle of parmesan, salt, and pepper.
  • lemon wedge

1. Sauté spinach in EVOO with salt and pepper. Mix in the ricotta and other ingredients. Squeeze in the lemon wedge.

2. Flour the counter-top, the dough, and the rolling pin. Roll the dough thin and cut 1.5-2 inch squares. Roll the squares even thinner.

3. Use a melon-baller to place a ball of filling in the center of a square. Dip your finger in water and apply around the filling to create sealing agent.

4. Place another square over the filling, press the sides down, and reinforce by making pleats with a fork. Then cut away the extra dough. If you have a zig-zag cutter, use that. Flour the bottoms and place on a baking sheet, covered in paper towels. Refrigerate until dinner time. Boil in salted water until edges are tender (5-6 minutes).

Sauce Ingredients:

  • pesto sauce (1/3)
  • cream
  • butter
  • flour

Make a roux in a pan by heating and whisking butter and flour. Add milk and bring to a boil. Add pesto to taste. The sauce should have a green tint because it is mostly cream. Add salt and pepper or even parmesan. Understand that this is labor intensive without the proper equipment. I have a newfound respect for old-fashioned italian mothers; hours of work consumed in minutes.

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I whipped this dish up in about twenty minutes for my family. I had to go to bartending class, so I ate it later on. Gnocchi are small italian dumplings made with potatoes; some people don’t even classify it as pasta. Catherine De Medici brought spinach to France and, to honor her italian heritage, decided to call any pasta dish containing spinach, Florentine. Don’t let its difficult pronunciation stop you from ordering the dish. It can be pronounced Nah-kee and Nyah-kee (Don’t worry, I’ve been pronouncing it wrong too!)


  • 2 17.5 oz gnocchi
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (depending on size)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (maybe two tablespoons)
  • 1/2 bag of spinach (baby spinach is a good substitute)
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • white wine
  • 1/2 jar of tomato sauce (I just poured until it looked good)
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste (comes in a tube or can)
  • Some type of cream (I used half and half)
  • 2 teaspoons parmesan
  • fresh basil
  • 1/2 large tomato
  • garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper

1. Sauté minced or pressed garlic and diced onion in the oil over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper.

2. When the onions finish sweating (become translucent), add the spinach (roughly chop if the leaves are large). S and P.

3. Add the butter for richness and a couple “glugs” of white wine. After fully incorporating the tomato paste, add the tomato sauce and the chopped tomatoes.

4. Simmer and season with garlic powder and oregano. Add at least two splashes of cream. The color should be a little lighter, yet should still look like a marinara sauce.

5. Squeeze the lemon, sprinkle with parmesan, and add a generous handful of basil leaves, chopped.

2. Boil the gnocchi for about 2 minutes, strain well, and mix with the sauce.

7. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake. My parents just melted the cheese in the microwave. I have no problem with that. If you choose to bake it, all you have to do is melt the cheese.

I love this dish because one of my favorite things is spinach. Gnocchi have a luxurious, soft texture and the sauce is a little more than your average marinara, yet is not to heavy.

P.S. There’s no mozzarella cheese added in the picture.

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Baked Ziti Penne is a great hearty pasta dish that needs no accompaniment. Okay, maybe garlic bread.

Cook time: 10 minutes for marinara/ 45 minutes in the oven


  • 5 ounces of baby bella mushrooms (half a 10 ounce container)
  • 1 zucchini chopped chopped (small pieces)
  • 1 large stalk of broccoli
  • 1/2 a white onion diced
  • 1 cups spinach or two handfuls
  • handful of grape tomatoes cut in halves or thirds
  • 1/2 lemon
  • fresh parsley, fresh basil, oregano, garlic powder, 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 jar marinara (I used fire roasted tomato and cabernet sauvignon flavored)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of tomato paste
  • some red wine of choice (I used cabernet sauvignon to emphasize the flavor in the sauce)
  • 1 pound of fresh mozzarella shredded with grater
  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta (use skim milk ricotta if you want less fat)

What do I do first?:

1. Boil broccoli florets for 4 minutes. Drain and shock in cold ice water. Sauté the zucchini over medium-high heat (I used a wok) in Extra-virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper.

2. After 2 minutes, chop the broccoli and add it too. Salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon.

3. After 1 minute, add the onions and minced or pressed garlic. S and P. Add fresh chopped parsley.

4. After two minutes, add the mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, oregano, a pinch of garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

5. Add splash of red wine like cabernet sauvignon. Simmer with the marinara sauce. Add some tomato paste to enhance the tomato flavor. Finish with chopped basil. You can stack and roll the leaves. Then cut thin strips for a chiffonade. This would be a wonderful marinara sauce all by itself.

6. Boil penne or ziti (1 cup per person). This recipe will serve 6 people.  Strain well, mix with the sauce, and add the ricotta and 2/3 of the mozzarella. When checking for consistency, keep in mind that some sauce will evaporate and soak into the pasta. Flatten in a buttered casserole dish, cover with foil, and place in a 350° oven for 10 minutes.

7. Conceal with mozzarella cheese and cover with foil. Cook for 20 more minutes. Remove the foil, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and sprinkle with more basil. Finish uncovered for 15 minutes. If you want, you can also top with parmesan cheese or even use it in the filling.

Experiment with this dish. Try any vegetable you have on hand. If you have eggplant, throw it in. Instead of spending on extra pasta, use what you have on hand and splurge on better ingredients. Use leftover  mozzarella and ricotta for a lasagna or make home-made ravioli with ricotta and spinach. This dish could definitely be made ahead of time; you just finish it in the oven. Feel free to not include ingredients or add them. My final suggestion is to find someone to shred the  mozzarella cheese for you.

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Yes, you can grill pizza.


  • store-bought pizza dough.
  • fresh basil
  • 1 small mozzarella
  • grape tomatoes
  • fresh baby spinach

most pre-shredded mozzarella is dehydrated to increase shelf-life. However, this type of cheese barely melts on a pizza. Its certainly not ooey-gooey goodness.

  • tomato sauce or marinara (the former is usually plain, whereas the latter has herbs or garlic)
  • olive oil

How you do it:

1. Flour the ball of dough and the counter-top. Spin the dough with one hand while you stretch with the palm of your other hand. Begin using your fingers to shape the dough into a long oval shape. Finish with a rolling pin to create a thin, even crust. This is always best, but you will have to transport it without it ripping.

2. Turn the grill on high. Use a brush to coat one side with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and fresh pepper and place, oil-down, on the hot grill. Oil and season the other side. Take half an onion and slice (see photo). Oil, season, and grill. After three minutes, use a spatula to pick up the end (it should easily lift). I just flipped it with my hands (because I’m that tough).

3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spoon sauce on the pie and spread around. In olive oil, Sauté spinach and grape tomatoes and grilled onions with salt and pepper. Evenly disperse the veggies over the pizza and generously sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Top with hand-ripped fresh basil leaves.

4. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the cheese melts. Finish with a drizzle of garlic-infused olive oil. I strained out the garlic. Use a pizza cutter or a chef’s knife to cut. Thanks for helping Ashley!

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I wanted to make a side dish for penne vodka. We had tons of mini sweet peppers, so I decided to stuff them. I tried to stay with the Italian theme. The peppers are sweet and soft, while the filling remains moist with the subtle flavors of wine, mushrooms, and onions. They’re light and healthy to boot.


  • 1 cup minced white onions (about half a large onion)
  • 1 cup minced baby bella mushrooms (buttons are good alternatives)
  • 1.5 cups cooked brown rice (I used leftover rice Pilaf)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • white wine
  • 1/2 lemon
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
  • red pepper flakes
  • oregano
  • mozzarella cheese

1. Drizzle about two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic (smallest cut possible). Mince the onions and mushrooms and sauté. Mushrooms should be cleaned before cutting with a damp towel. Sprinkle with salt and fresh black pepper. Mix in the rice and add the wine. Add the rest of the ingredients. The pepper stuffing should be moldable, so not too wet. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cut the tops off the peppers and pick out the insides. Use a melon-baller or your fingers to stuff them, being sure to pack them densely. Try to lean them against each other in a casserole dish to keep upright. Add enough wine to cover the bottom. This provides continual moisture to the peppers. Scatter shredded mozzarella cheese over the tops.

3. Bake peppers with an aluminum-foil covering for 40 minutes. Take the foil off for the remaining 20 minutes so the cheese can brown.

Enjoy. The peppers won’t be the only things stuffed!

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I found two zucchinis in the fridge. They were certainly not fresh; dehydrated and spongy. Yet I knew better than to dispose of them. They just suffered from loss of moisture; something that is easily remedied by soaking them in water for about 20 minutes. I decided to make fried zucchini cakes.

Ingredients: (Optional additions include squash and carrots)


  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1/4 large red onion
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (absorb moisture)
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs (absorb moisture)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 2 large eggs (binder)
  • vegetable oil

Yogurt sauce:

  • 1/2 cup Greeks yogurt (simply strained yogurt)
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • t tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: There are two options. I used a mandolin to get the pieces nice and thin and then cut them into teeny-weeny pieces. After I did it all, I realized that I could have just used a grater, but it was much more fun using the mandolin! I just sliced them,  holding the zucchini vertical and then used a julienne cutting technique with my knife. Mandolins, besides the instrument, are flat planes used to make thin slices. Some food processors have settings for this cut.

Step 2: Cut the red onions as well. These should be grated, in the same manner, or used on the mandolin with a thinner setting. Add the eggs, the bread crumbs, the parmesan cheese, salt and fresh ground pepper. Mix well. Add more crumbs if there is unabsorbed liquid. Form small handfuls into balls and flatten into patties. Heat vegetable oil in a pan and let the cakes sizzle for about five minutes on medium-high heat. Do not move them until they move freely and flip when one side is browned.

I got Jerry’s approval too.

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So I get the feeling people want recipes that are uncomplicated and easy to follow. At first, I did not post this because it was too simple. I made it as a side dish and was pleased with the results. These fried plantains are bite-sized soft treats with a mellow sweetness compared to bananas. I used to think that plantains should be cooked green, but this results in a flavorless, tough plantain that is fibrous and bready. Green plantains can be used for savory dishes. It is used often like a potatoes. Black (extra-ripe) plantains can also be used for dessert dishes.

  • Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat. It should be 1/4 inch high.
  • Cut the plantains while it heats.
  • Use a knife to slit the plantain peel off. Then cut in half, creating to symmetrical pieces.
  • Cut into bite size pieces and fry on each side for 5-7 minutes or until well-browned and caramelized on each side.
  • rest on paper towels or a brown paper bag to rid the fruit of excess oil.
  • Immediately salt lightly with sea salt or kosher salt. About 1 teaspoon for 3 plantains.

The nutritional value of the plantain is extremely high. It is one of the healthiest fruits in the world, leaving bananas in the dust. What could be a better ingredient to fry?

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  • penne pasta (rigatoni or practically any similar-sized pasta will work)
  • heavy cream
  • freshly parmesan cheese
  • marsala cooking wine (real marsala wine will work as well, but I’m only 18 and couldn’t buy the real wine)
  • fresh parsley (It is as important in Italian cuisine as olive oil)
  • 2 containers mushrooms (I would suggest a crimini mushroom or any mild, tender, and small mushroom)
  • 1 vidalia onion

1. Start by chopping onions in half inch squares. I used vidalia, yet any sweeter onion will work. Cut the criminis in half, if necessary, to make bite-size pieces. Sweat the onions over medium-high heat in butter. After a minute or two, add mushrooms, garlic (using a garlic press), salt and pepper. You know you are finished sweating when the onions become clear. If the onions are browning, then you are caramelizing.

2. Add about one or two tablespoons of flour and stir to form a roux. A roux is just a thickening agent made, in this dish, with butter and flour. Add the wine and set the fire to a simmer. Cook the wine for a minute or two. Next, raise the heat to reach a boil. The boiling causes the roux to reach its full potential and thickening power. Add grated parmesan cheese, stirring constantly. I used a zester.

3. Boil the pasta until al dente (read container for instructions). Before draining the pasta, ladle in some starchy water to help reach the desired consistency. Note for the perfectionists: I cannot give exact amounts; one just has to trouble-shoot. Add more cream or wine until you have attained a good balance of flavors and the perfect texture.

4. To evade the mistake that I made, make the sauce looser than desirable; when the sauce comes in contact with the starchy pasta, it will thicken naturally. Similarly, as the sauce cools, it will thicken even further. I garnished with chopped parsley, some lemon juice, and salted to taste.

The moral of the story is: even a picnic’s no picnic. In other words, just because it’s a pasta dish, does not mean that it does not require the same meticulous care and attention that a soufflé or a beef wellington does. Serve with crusty italian bread. For this, there are no substitutions.

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Guacamole is a great appetizer. Nobody is shy about digging in to the creamy, vibrant dip. Better yet, it is easy to make home-made.

Ingredients: avocados, olive oil, canola oil (any frying oil), corn or flour tortillas, tomatoes, onions (red or white both work), lime, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley or cilantro.

Guac Steps:

Tips: the perfect avocado will give a little to the touch. At the grocery store, pick the stems off; If green, it’s ripe.

1. cut the avocados with one vertical cut all around the fruit. Twist gently and separate. Take a chef’s knife and lodge it into the seed, twisting gently to dislodge it. Use a paring knife to cut the halves, making a checkerboard pattern. Scoop the cubes out with a spoon.

2. Mash with some EVOO to make it silky, chopped tomatoes, onions, minced garlic, cilantro or parsley, and lime. To facilitate juiceage, pop them in the microwave or roll on the counter with your palms.

Chips Steps:

1. Cut flour or corn tortillas into quarters or sixths and fry in very hot frying oil. Flour tortillas will give a thicker crispy chip with layers. Corn tortillas will make a more crunchy and thin chip. When golden, allow to try on paper towels or paper bags. Sprinkle with salt.

Tip: always make a lot because it’s always a big hit. Guac stores terribly and oxidizes quickly so make t shortly before serving.

P.S. September 16 is National Guacamole Day

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