Sunday, September 27, 2015

Split pea stew

Split pea stew

This recipe was a last minute thing.  I didn't want to cook today, and I had to work again tonight, so I wanted to sleep.  Enter my Instant Pot® and some quick thinking, and 18 minutes later I had some great stew that my whole family ate.
I grew up on lentils and split peas.  My dad could eat split pea soup every day.  He loved the stuff, I did not.  It was not until years later that I started liking it more and more.  Now, I am like my dad, and could eat the stuff every day.
There are many recipes out there for split pea soup.  I think what set my recipe as different, was the addition of big chunks of portobello mushrooms.  It made the stew like meaty stew. They added a wonderful flavor on top of it all.  I used mushroom stock too, and I think that really added a great flavor too.  Once you make this, I pretty much can guarantee that you will make it again.  It is that good.  The fact that my wife and kids chowed down on this stuff is also a good gauge that it was the correct recipe to make. :)


1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, chopped fine
1 cup chopped carrots (about 2 medium) 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium russet potatoes, washed well and diced into 1 inch pieces
2 large portobello mushrooms, cleaned and diced into 1 inch pieces
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups green split peas, washed and sorted
5c mushroom stock (either homemade or from the store) (you can sub with veggie stock if you don't have access to mushroom stock)
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

Turn your instant pot on to saute, and let heat up for a few minutes.
When it has heated up, add the onions, garlic and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the carrots, potatoes and mushrooms.  Continue to saute for another 5 minutes, stirring the whole time.  Add the tomatoes and split peas, and stir well.

Add the mushroom stock and the remaining spices and liquid smoke.  Stir well and bring to a boil.
When it has come to a boil, turn off your Instant Pot and put the lid on.  Make sure nob is to pressure, and now set the IP for manual and 18 minutes.
After 18 minutes, you will do quick release.  Then, enjoy a wonderful, hearty bowl of delicious stew.  It should be nice and creamy and you will fall in love.

****Stove top directions*****

You will need a large pot with a good fitting lid.
Place pot on stove over medium high heat.  Add onions, garlic and carrots. Saute for 10 minutes, until the onions are starting to get translucent. 
Add the potatoes, mushrooms, and tomatoes.  Stir well and cook for another 5 minutes.  
Add the split peas, mushroom stock, all the spices and the liquid smoke.  Stir well and allow to come to a simmer.  
Reduce heat to medium low, and cover tight.  Let simmer for about 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, take the lid off and stir well, all the way to the bottom.  Check the potatoes and peas.  If there is anything not cooked, cover and let cook another 10 minutes.  
Serve hot.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Spicy Thai lettuce wraps

Spicy Thai lettuce wraps

I have been loving lettuce wraps lately.  First of all, they are so easy to make, and they are so delicious to eat.  You can get so creative with them too.  
This is the second type I have made.  My first one can be found here.
This spicy Thai lettuce wrap is really all about the sauce.  It is a spicy peanut sauce, and it is the star of the show.  Put as much or as little as you like, and make a double batch, because this stuff is so good.


1 head romaine lettuce, cleaned and broken into individual leafs 
1 lb. brown rice noodles, made according to package directions (after cooking, rinse with cold water and let drain)

(This is the brand of noodle I use)^^^^^

1 red bell pepper, sliced into long strips
1 large carrot, peeled, cut in half and sliced into thin strips
1 large zucchini, sliced into thin strips
2 green onions, sliced into rounds
Cilantro (I like a lot, you may like less, so no measurements)
Optional- 1/2 block extra tofu, cut into small cubes and browned in a pan.
1-2 limes, cut into 1/4's

For the sauce:
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use PB2 that has been mixed with water, but you can use all natural peanut butter too)
1/4c low sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons unseasoned, rice vinegar 
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, chopped fine
1 tsp. chopped ginger
1-2 tablespoons sambal oelek chili paste
Mix all together and set aside.

There really are no further instructions,  except assemble the wraps.
Start with a nice big leaf of romaine lettuce, spread some sauce on it.  Add some noodles and all the veggies you like.  Then sprinkle with green onions and cilantro, squeeze a little lime and eat.  Repeat.  Repeat again!!  I hope you enjoy these.  My wife loved them!!!

Wasabi lime potatoes

Wasabi lime potatoes

There are a few flavor combinations that go hand in hand.  One of those combinations for me is wasabi and lime.  I am a huge fan of wasabi, it makes me happy.  It burns just a little, then goes away just as fast.  But the flavor you are left with is amazing.  Well, add lime to that mix and the flavor you are left with is amplified.
So, It only makes sense to combine those flavors for breakfast.  But unless I am having sushi or some other Asian dish, how do I incorporate wasabi into breakfast?  Potatoes!  That is how.


4 medium russet potatoes, washed, cut in half lengthwise, then cut those halves into half and slice into 1/4 inch slices (see illustrations for reference)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced fine
1 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1/2 tsp. pepper (optional)
1 tsp. onion powder
3/4c unseasoned breadcrumbs (I use panko that I put in a blender)

1-2 tsp. wasabi powder (or wasabi paste if you have it pre-made)
                                              ( ^^this is the brand I use for wasabi powder^^)

1 large lime, cut in half
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro 

Preheat oven to 450*.

In a large pot, add your potatoes, salt and garlic.  Add about 6 cups of water, just enough to cover the potatoes by about 1/2 inch.  Place on stove and set to medium high.  Cover and let come to a soft boil.  Remove lid and boil for 10 minutes, or until almost cooked through.

Remove from heat and drain.  
Place back into pot, and add the soy sauce and stir carefully to coat. (you don't want to break the potatoes)  Add the pepper, onion powder, wasabi powder and breadcrumbs, then stir around and coat well, until all the pieces are covered in seasoning and breadcrumbs.  ***(If you are using wasabi paste, mix into the soy sauce until blended well, then pour on the potatoes as above)

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone pad.  Spread out into one layer.  
Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring about half way through.  You want to make them nice and crispy. (watch them as ovens vary)
Remove from oven and squeeze the juice from your limes all over the potatoes, and serve.  Sprinkle with your cilantro just before eating.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.  They have amazing flavor and these will be on my weekly menu now. :)


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Spanish omelet

Spanish omelet 

I got a request for this recipe a while back.  I was going to make it that week, and then life happened, and it got put on the back burner.  Yesterday the request was brought to my attention, and I am so glad it was.  I try to make requested recipes as quickly as possible, and can't believe I let this one slide.
I am so glad I made this recipe today for a Spanish omelet.  It was so good, I ate the whole thing.  I didn't even feel guilt.  It was just that good.  Crispy on the outside, tender, moist and fluffy on the inside.  Smoked paprika added just the right amount of smoky goodness and  really took it to the next level.
Now, a few words before you jump into this recipe.  It is not a speedy recipe.  It requires patience and time.  Also, a really good, nonstick pan is vital for this recipe.  Because you are not using oil of any kind, it needs to have a nonstick pan that is in good working order.
You cannot rush this recipe, the batter needs time to cook and set up, and if you rush it, it will turn into a Spanish potato scramble.  


3 medium sized potatoes ( I used russet, you could use yukon gold too) peeled cut in half, and cut into half moons about 1/4 inch thick. soak for 5 minutes in water. (keeps them from turning brown)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half.  Sliced into half moons about 1/4 inch thick
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper (optional)
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 cup water
4 oz. firm tofu (1/4 of a brick)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c unflavored/unsweetened plant milk (I used almond)
3 tablespoons maseca masa flour, (corn flour used for tortillas and tamales)
1/4 tsp salt

In a large, good, nonstick pan, add the onions, potatoes, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. 

Pour the 1c of water over it, and set on the stove over medium heat.  Stir around to mix the spices, and cover the pan.  Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked.

While they are cooking, make the batter.  Add the tofu, baking powder, plant milk, corn flour and salt to a blender and blend until very smooth.  Set aside.
When the potatoes are  are cooked, remove to a colander to drain.  
Wash the pan out.  
Turn the heat to medium low.
Place back on the heat, and add the batter.

 Then add the drained potato mixture and press them gently into the batter.

 Now this is where low heat and patience comes into play.  Make sure the heat is on medium low, and cover the pan.  Walk away.  This will take about 15 minutes on the first side.  Don't touch it or try to flip it.  Just let it do its own thing.
 After 15 minutes, use a thin spatula and run around the edges, and slowly around under the omelet.  If it starts to tear or seems wet, let it go another 5 minutes and try again.
Once you loosen the omelet, slowly tip the pan and transfer the omelet to a dinner plate.  
Wipe the pan out and turn the pan onto the plate.  Flip the omelet into the pan (I used a hot pad on the bottom of the plate so I didn't burn myself)
Now, let it go for another 15-20 minutes.  This time do not cover.  
 After 15-20 minutes, run your spatula around the edges again, and around the bottom.  If it still jiggles, let it go a little longer.
Gently remove from pan by tipping it and letting it slide onto a plate.
It will need to set up for about 10 minutes.  Do not cover.  This is best served warm, not hot.
 Cut into wedges and serve with fresh cut tomatoes.  
Like I said, it is a long recipe that is great for a brunch.  
I hope you try this and enjoy it. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Simple plum and apple jam

Simple plum and apple jam

This last weekend was great!  I got to visit with both sides of my family, which is always a treat.  Our families are getting so big, and so to see them all in one weekend is kind of rare. 
While we were visiting with my sister Heidi in her yard, I noticed she had lots of plum tree's.  All very full, and ready to eat.  She also has a big apple tree, full of juicy and sweet apples.
She asked me if I could come up with a recipe for plum jam.  I was happy to write one, because I love plums.  
I left Fairview without taking any of her plums.  Lucky for me, my sister-in-law Amy had a plum tree that was full of sweet fruit.  She was more then happy to let me take some too.  She also had a box of apples, and gave me some of them too.  I was so happy to have these fruit, because I really wanted to make jam.
This recipe is simple, no added sugar, and the taste is amazing.  Full of fruity goodness and just a hint of tart.

Ingredients (this is for 1 quart.  You can double and triple the recipe)

1 lb. red apples of choice.  I used fuji and honeycrisp (2 of each) cored and cut into quarters
1 lb. dark purple plums, cut in half and pit removed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 large medjool dates, pitted and chopped up
1 cup water, divided
1/2 cup chia seeds

After you slice up your apples, place into a food processor or blender with the lemon juice and 1/2 cup water.  Blend until smooth.  (do not take the skins off)
 Pour the apple mix into a large pot.
Next, add the plums to the blender with the dates and the other 1/2 cup of water.  Blend until smooth.

 Pour into the pot with the apples.  Mix well.
 Put the pot on the stove, and turn the heat to medium.  Stir well, and cover.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Stir every few minutes to make sure nothing is sticking.  When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium low.
After 20 minutes, remove from heat, and strain through a fine mesh strainer.  I have one that fits perfectly on my blender. 
Working in batches, scoop the mix into the strainer, and mash down with a rubber spatula.
 You can keep the leftover pulp for muffins and cakes.  Just put into a zip bag and freeze for later.
When all the mix is strained, add the chia seeds and mix well.  I mixed for about a minute to make sure it was all mix well.
Pour right away into a 1 quart jar or several smaller jars.  Screw on lids and allow to cool.  About 1 hour after, shake the bottle(s).  When it has cooled, set into the fridge for 24 hours.  
Then, enjoy with toast, pancakes, or whatever you want.  

Spicy baked green tomatoes

Spicy baked green tomatoes

This last weekend, I had the opportunity to go through my sister-in-law's garden and pick some super fresh produce.  I got fresh zucchini, plumbs, red and green tomatoes.  I was so excited to have all of this home-grown produce.  
I was super excited for the tomatoes!!  I love them on sandwiches, in pico, and especially just eating like an apple.  I was also way excited for the green tomatoes she had.  It has been a long time since I had "fried green tomatoes".  Now, since I am no oil added and plant based, I had to write a new recipe so these little green gems could be baked.
I am very happy to report they turned out even better than fried.  They were crispy on the outside and soft and almost creamy on the inside.  Spicy undertones also played a part in this wonderful lunch.  I realize this is a seasonal item, although I have heard some stores carry green tomatoes, and some produce people will order them in for you.  


3-4 medium to large green tomatoes, washed and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices (pink, under ripe ones will work too)
1 cup no oil panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2-1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper (optional)
1/4c Franks Red Hot® sauce
1/4c horseradish mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375*.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Combine the panko bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Place in a blender or food processor and blend until fine.  (about 20 seconds)
Pour into a large zip top bag
With a pastry brush, brush the Franks hot sauce on all sides of the sliced tomatoes.  
Place the slices into the breadcrumb bag, and zip shut.  Shake well until all the slices are well coated.
Remove the slices one at a time from the bag, shake off any excess crumbs and place on the lined baking sheet.
When all the slices are on the baking sheet, place into the oven.
Bake on the first side for 20 minutes.
Gently turn the slices and put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
While they are in the oven, combine the mustard and maple syrup.
After the last 20 minutes, remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
Serve while hot, and dip or dollop the mustard on each slice.
I hope you enjoy as much as I did, and let me know! :)

**This can be made gluten free by using cornmeal instead of bread crumbs.  You can also use your favorite hot sauce instead of the Franks. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Klunker's lettuce wraps

Klunker's lettuce wraps

This last week, I was asked to make lettuce wraps just like PF Chang's®.  That brought a flood of delicious memories to my head.  PF Chang's is my favorite Chinese restaurant.  I love all the food there.  I miss a lot of the food that I no longer eat too.  One of the recipes I just let go was the delightful, delicious, so damn good lettuce wraps.  
I had let the thought of eating those ever again go.  I mean, they had oil, they had meat, and both of those are off my menu.  But then the request came in, and I said yes before thinking about it.  Could I really make these good enough to mirror the great PF?  I had to try!  I had to give it my all, and I will admit now, it was not for anyone else but me!!!  I was doing this for my own selfish reasons.  
So I did!  I made these beautiful wraps and I loved them.  I almost ate the whole recipe.  I was full after just two, but I was willing to burst just to have a few more bites.  I was alone, but I am pretty sure I had a tear in my eye from joy.  
This recipe goes quickly once the tofu is done.  The tofu is the longest part of this whole preparation, but it is worth the effort.

1 16 oz. container of extra firm tofu in water.  Drained and rinsed off
4c water
3 tablespoons no chicken, chicken broth (you can buy or make)
3c mushrooms (cremini if you can find) cleaned and thick sliced (1/3 inch)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 can water chestnuts (drained and chopped to pea size pieces)
1 head butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce

For the sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (or whatever you use in it's place)
1/4c hoisin sauce (look for brand with no oil)
1 tsp. ground fresh ginger
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1-2 heaping tablespoons sambal oelek chili sauce
Mix together and set aside

As I said in the beginning, the tofu will take about an hour from start to finish, so lets start with that.
After draining and rinsing the tofu, cut into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes.  Place a medium sauce pan on the stove over medium high heat.  Cover and bring to a boil.  When it comes to a boil, add the chickenless powder (or you can just use a good veggie or mushroom stock too)  Mix well, then carefully add the tofu.
 Cover and bring back to a boil.  Do not stir, the tofu gets fragile.  When it comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.  Do not stir or bother it.  While it is doing it's thing, you can chop your mushrooms and water chestnuts and make your sauce.
Preheat oven to 350*.
When 30 minutes is up, drain carefully into a colander.  Let drain well.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone pad or parchment paper.  Place the pieces carefully on the baking sheet. (I had to use a fork because it was a bit hot)

 Bake in the 350* oven for 30 minutes.  No need to turn, but if you are using parchment, check and make sure they are not burning on the bottom.
So you have an hour total to prep the rest of your stuff.  Did you mix your sauce?  Did you cut everything?  Good, lets move on.
While the tofu is in the oven, lets saute the mushrooms, garlic and water chestnuts.  (a note here, if you don't have water chestnuts, you can use celery)
Saute in a large pan, over medium heat, until the mushrooms are soft, and they are not giving off any more water. 
When the tofu is done in the oven, remove and put the pieces on a cutting board.  Chop them up now into odd pieces.  You want the pieces to be small.
 Add the tofu to the mushroom mix.  Saute another 10 minutes, mixing and turning often.  You are just drying the tofu out a little more here.
Add the sauce all at once.  Stir well for 1-2 minutes, until everything is hot.
Serve in lettuce leaves that have been carefully removed from the head of lettuce.  Garnish if you want with cilantro or green onions.
If you want extra sauce, make a double batch.  
I hope you give this recipe a try and fall in love with it as I did.  Next time I am making a double batch so I can have leftovers for work.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Simple red curry (GF)

Simple red curry (GF)

I am just going to be honest here, I love curry.  I love hot curry, I love mild curry, I love when it burns your mouth all the way down to your stomach.  I just love it in whatever form it takes.  Oddly, I don't make it that often.  Mainly because my wife cannot stand the smell.  I personally love the smell.  It is so complex.  
I would love to be one of those people who makes all the spices and such from scratch, and maybe one day I will.  But I love to use many of the commercial brands to help me out.  The only thing I had to be creative with is my coconut milk.  Now, if you cannot eat white rice at all, you will have to somehow figure out the coconut milk.  For this recipe I do use white rice (just one cup cooked)
Here are some of the brands I used for this recipe.  I put the brands so you can find them at your local store or Asian market.

Both are compliant, and both are gluten free.


1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced in half, then into half moons about 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup veggie stock
1 medium sweet potato (about 2 cups when cut up) peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup baby carrots (you can use regular and just cut up)
1/2 red bell pepper, washed, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
2c cut cauliflower florets 
1 15oz. can of crushed tomatoes with juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons red curry paste
1 tsp. to 2 tablespoons sambal oelek chili paste (depending on how hot you want it
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper 
1 1/2c Klunker's creamy coconut milk**
**(1 cup white rice (hot.  I make ahead and just microwave) 1 1/2 c plant milk of choice (unsweetened and unflavored) 1 tsp. coconut extract, 1 tsp. maple syrup.  Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for 2-3 minutes until very smooth)**
1/4c frozen peas
chopped cilantro for garnish

In a large, heavy bottom pan, over medium heat, saute your onions.  Add a little water if they stick.  Saute for 5 minutes, or until they start to turn translucent. Add the veggie stock, sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and red peppers.  Stir in well and continue to cook.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are tender crisp.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, curry paste, chili paste, onions and garlic powder and salt/pepper.  Stir well and dissolve the pastes into the liquid.  After stirring, return the lid and simmer another 5 minutes.

Remove lid and add the Klunker's coconut milk, stir in well.  Bring back to a boil and keep stirring another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the peas and cilantro on top.  Check for spice.  If you want it more spicy, add more chili paste.
Serve as is, or over your favorite rice.  Mine is white jasmine. :)
I hope you give this a try and enjoy it as much as I did.  It made a lot, so use a big enough pan!