The Girl with the Pearl Onion

012 Pearl Onions TS

I woke to a cold and snowy day and considered the possibilities.

I had thoughts of stew, like when I was a child. The kind that came from a big pot on the stove which mom made in the morning anticipating children who would be stuck in the house all day; a snow day.

Well, since becoming a vegan it is dishes like these that I miss the most; the kind which come from big pots and are swimming in gravy.

Then I considered, “what was my favorite part of those meals?” The pearl onions!

I loved those sweet slippery gems. For that matter I loved all the veggies and remember pushing dark beef bits to the side.

The gravy would be the tough part. I’ve kind of avoided this kind of thing as I am not a big fan of “substituting” processed fake meat products for meat.

This was really easy, just a bit labor intense.

I started by boiling the pearl onions; skin and all, in water for about 3 minutes.

Remove them and run cold water over them then cut off the root end. Gently squeeze and the “pearl” pops out.

Set those aside and prepare the mashed potatoes and keep them warm until you’re ready to serve.

022 Stew PD


½ cup olive oil
6-7 carrots chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic sliced
4-5 cups of baby bella mushrooms halved
3-4 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp vegetarian stock / bouillon
5-6 cups of water depending on your desired thickness
1 cup of peas
1-2 cups pearl onions (depending on your preference)
Pinch or so of dried Tarragon


Put the oil in the pan and start adding garlic and carrots

Allow them to sauté, add the tarragon

Add the mushrooms and the pearl onions and allow to continue cooking

Mix the water and the cornstarch and add to the pan

Add the vegetarian bouillon

Add more water if necessary

Allow to cook until everything is tender and serve over mashed potatoes.

016 Stew PD

025Mashed Potatoes PD

019 Stew PD

Crispy Red Skin Potatoes with Tahini Sauce

008 red skin potatoes with tahini sauce PD

Having a recipe that you can make quickly and get right everytime is a great skill to master.

Red skin potatoes are a great side dish for so many dishes and these are great alone; as a treat.

I have made these for appetizers and as a snack to go with cocktails.

These are like a dressed-up version of potato skins minus the huge calorie count!

They take about 30 minutes from washing the potatoes to serving them. So you can whip them up in a jiff if need be.

011 Red skin potatoes with Tahini sauce PD

Tahini Sauce

Tahini sauce is made from tahini – a sesame seed paste. Tahini sauce is thinner and used in pita sandwiches, marinades, and dips. Tahini sauce is very easy to make. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and it will keep for about two weeks.

1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 gloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped (optional)
In a food processor or mortar and pestle, combine garlic and tahini. Add kosher salt.

Remove from food processor and add olive oil and lemon juice. If too thick, add a teaspoon of warm water until desired consistency.

012 Red skin potatoes with tahini sauce PD

I washed and quatered about 12 medium sized organic red skin potatoes

Saute in about 1/4 cup of olive oil

I added about 10 shakes of red pepper flakes and 4-5 pinches of dried rosemary

I let this cook until the potatoes became browned

I then removed them from the frying pan and wrapped them in aluminum foil and placed them on a cookie sheet in a 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Salt to taste

Top them off with the tahini sauce and serve.

015 Red skin potatoes with tahini sauce

016 red skin potatoes with tahini sauce

Meatless Monday! Refried Rice and Beans with Avocado, Corn and Tomato Salsa!

018 fresh salsa with avocado

This meal is more than just rice and beans.

For my daughters I will turn these into big fat burritos with cheese and serve the salsa on the side with chips.

I enjoyed the vegan version of just rice and beans with a dollop of the salsa on top.

What I like the most was the cold crunchy salsa on top of the creamy hot beans and rice.

The girls are going to love this tonight. It’s nutritious and festive.

Rice and Beans

I boiled 1 cup of brown jasmine rice in 2 cups of water

I used 2 cans of pinto beans and cooked them in a frying pan with 4 big cloves of garlic

That’s it for that part.


This also works as a salad;

2 avocados

3 medium sized tomatoes

The juice of 2 limes

A nice handful of fresh cilantro

½ of a medium sized onion

½ a cup of yellow corn

I wished that I had some olives on hand but I didn’t. I thought that would really make this pop.

For the burritos I use whole wheat flour tortilla and shredded Monterey Jack, or Manchego cheese.

027 burrito PD meatless monday

I roll the beans, rice and cheese together and bake in the oven for a bit then garnish with the salsa.

Of course, salt to taste

011 rice and beans

Spicy Peanut Veggies and Pasta

007Broccoli and spinach with crushed red pepper and peanut sauce

OK. I know that some of my posts will seem really boring. I eat pretty much the same thing every day.

I follow a vegan diet and my children are primarily vegetarians; eating cheese and eggs.

But I am truly on a mission to make vegan meals tasty and completely nutritious and enjoyable for everyone. I also, try to keep these meals as inexpensive as possible.

I realize that there is a big emphasis on inexpensive meals, but keeping them nutritious is the real challange.

Adding veggies to everything is a great habit to get into and you will find that your cravings for less than healthy foods will decrease if you’re meeting your nutritional needs regularly.

Today I have put together some of my favorite flavors; garlic, coconut, peanut , and crushed red pepper.

I simply steamed the broccoli, spinach, and garlic. When that was done I added the crushed red pepper and the peanut sauce.

It was fantastic.

You can boil whole wheat pasta and add more of the peanut sauce and toss in the vegetables for a great meal or a side dish.

Use the pepper to taste. I love things hot and spicy but you could modify this.

006 Broccoli and spinach with crushed red pepper and peanut sauce

Funny Beats Fancy Everytime!

IMG00058 Luxe chair PD

This restaurant was the scene of one of the funniest and best nights out that I have had in a while.

And this evening proved that an easy going guy with a great sense of humor is highly underrated.

Notice these chairs. My date was not a large man but definitely a man, none the less.

As we walked in and saw that these bar tables were the only available seating in the restaurant , we both shot nervous glances around the room and scanned the bar for empty stools; no luck.

So we sat, precariously balanced, on fancy “stools” designed for speed not comfort.

As we tried to maintain eye contact and to pretend that actively balancing oneself was quite normal and comfortable, my date started to descend, ever so slowly.

By the time the waiter came by my date’s chin was just inches from the top of the table.

Trying to maintain our composure took everything we had.

When the waiter arrived to take our order; also pretending that the scene was quite normal, we burst out laughing with an intensity that rendered us inaudible; silent, frozen, mouths agape, tears streaming down our faces.

An older couple at the bar, who had watched this whole scene with empathetic horror, motioned to us that there were two available seats; sturdy seats, at the bar.

We quickly maneuvered our selves off our perches and settled in comfortably offering thanks to the couple for rescuing us.

The rest of the evening went well. The bartender took care of us and made sure that our glasses were full of champagne all night long.

My date never lost his smile and enjoyed his meal of scallops and crab cakes with elbow room to spare!

IMG00057 scary chair at Luxe 2009

1231091934d scallop appetizer Luxe 2009 PD

Our Bartender
1231091935b bartender Luxe 2009 PD

Sunshine and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!

Oatmeal Raisin cookies PD

It was one of those mornings today; the Midwest in the middle of winter, early and I was outside with the dog.

The sun was shining and it was in the mid 30’s and I got a whiff of something that I hadn’t smelled in a long time. It was the smell of wet earth and green stuff; life just below the surface.

It caught me short.

I could hear birds.

It absolutely rejuvenated me.

This winter will not last forever, we will feel the sun on our faces again and there will be smells.

Baking oatmeal raisin cookies seemed the natural thing to do; chocolate chip, too.

The girls would come home from school to a house filled with the smell of freshly baked cookies and when they forgot to shut the back door I let it stay that way for a little while; the sun streaming in, just like it was Springtime or something.

007Oatmeal Raisin Cookies PD


½ pound (2 sticks butter)
1 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ Cup granulated sugar
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (the best that you can afford, it makes a difference)
1-1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
3 Cups of rolled oats
1 Cup of raisins


Heat oven to 350F
Beat together butter and sugars until creamy
Add eggs and vanilla, mix well
Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; mix
Add the rolled oats and raisins and continue to mix
Place rounded tablespoons full on cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Makes about 4 dozen

004Oatmeal Raisin Cookies PD

Green and Clean!

003Kale asparagus, avocado, pine nuts spinach basil pesto

I love kale and have become obsessed with it since discovering Dr. Alejandro Junger’s book, CLEAN.

Dr. Junger refers to green foods as the royal family of nutrition and kale is the king.

This dish includes all of my favorites; kale , asparagus, broccoli, garlic, spinach, basil, and a tablespoon of toasted pine nuts and half an avocado for garnish.

I steamed everything and topped it with a spinach, basil, and oilve oil pesto.

What I like about the pesto is that it incorporates spinach and garlic which are raw, thereby adding important enzymes to this meal.

These foods are great for the cleansing program, to be sure, however, I like to include these super foods into my everyday meals.

Making healthy highly nutritious foods a part of your daily diet ensures that you are are getting high quality, nutrient rich food and that you are functioning at optimal levels.

I am attemping to make these dishes easy for everyone to enjoy with recipes that don’t compromise quality and which satisfy the palate and the senses.

004Kale, asparagus, spinach pesto and pine nuts

Cheese Tortelloni with Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

002 sundried tomato tortellini

Active teenagers with busy schedules are hard to feed in the best of times but with a 15 minute window it’s almost impossible.

Thank goodness for frozen pasta.

I added fresh baby spinach to the last minute of the boiling pasta to wilt it.

I had a jar of sundried tomatoes in oil in the fridge. I put about 1 cup in a sauce pan and let it begin to cook then added about 1-1/2 cups of half and half.

I put the mixture in the blender and pureed it completely. Then returned it to the sauce pan to warm a bit more.

005 sundried tomato tortellini

I had this ready in about 10 minutes.

I always have a salad ready to go making this one quick meal.

008sundried tomato tortellini

Does chocolate have any health benefits?

Because chocolate is so good to eat, we assume that like the other foods we enjoy, chocolate couldn’t be very good for us. Wrong. Research over the last so many years has discovered that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has major health benefits in several areas. We often tend not to remember the chocolate is essentially a plant-based food.

Debra Miller, a chocolate expert with the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition, says “The main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa beans – the seeds of the fruit of the cacao tree, Because of modern manufacturing and the common form of the ‘chocolate bar’, most people today don’t associate chocolate with its natural beginnings, but chocolate is essentially food of the earth.”

Chocolates are packed full of chemicals called anti-oxidants which promote good health and recent studies show that the compounds can reduce the risk of many diseases from cancer to heart ailments. In fact, pound for pound, chocolates and cocoa pack more antioxidants than green tea or red wine. Your body can be damaged by unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals which are thought to be the cause of many diseases. Antioxidants neutralize the effects of free radicals.

In addition to the antioxidants that contribute to your general good health, many scientists believe that chocolate also specifically contributes to the health of your heart and your cardiovascular system. The health of your cardiovascular system and in particular your heart depends on the free and efficient flow of blood through arteries that have no blockage. The natural chemicals that are present in chocolate and cocoa may contribute to this process by reducing blood pressure and increasing blood flow. Dr David Katz of Yale University, who conducted a study of the effect of chocolate on cardiovascular health in 2005, has this to say “This clearly suggests that dark chocolate isn’t just good; it’s good for you.”

Meatless Monday! Spinach Fettucini with Garlic Parmesan Sauce

010 meatless monday fettucini with parm sauce

Easy and green Meatless Monday!

The cheese sauce starts with a simple roux of butter and flour to which I added about 1 cup of heavy cream and 3/4 cup of shredded parmesan.

I also added 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic while the butter was melting before I added the flour.

And anytime I use cream or spinach I add a pinch of nutmeg.

This was a hit with my teenage daughters who don’t always enjoy my vegan meals.

Add salad and you have an inexpensive, nutritious meatless monday!

011Meatless monday fettucini with parmesean sauce

I added aspargus and broccoli to this meal. Artichokes would work here, also.

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