Vegetarian Biscuits and Gravy
September 30, 2009, 1:59 am
Filed under: Breakfast, Main Dishes

Cooler weather arriving, and a bizarre taste in food that can only be blamed on the March addition to our family has had me craving rich, homestyle meals.

This evening I decided to whip up some good old biscuits and gravy.  I gotta say, for a first attempt at both, it went pretty well.  Okay, okay, I realize that it doesn’t get much easier than baking powder biscuits, but cut a girl some slack.  Especially a girl who is on a roller coaster of exhaustion, nausea, grumpiness and hunger.

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 c. flour

3 T. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. shortening (I used vegan shortening, but any can be used)

2/3 c. milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using a fork, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Use same fork (or pastry cutter) to cut in the shortening.  Add milk and mix in just until mixed.  Drop by rounded tablespoon (or slightly larger) onto greased baking sheet.  Bake about 20 minutes or until beginning to lightly brown.   Remove from oven and set aside.


Vegetarian Gravy 

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

1/4 c. butter or margarine

2 1/2 c. vegetable broth

2 T. soy sauce

1/4 c. flour

1/2 T. sage

1/2 T. thyme

freshly ground black pepper to taste

In large skillet, saute diced onion in butter over med-low heat until onion starts to soften.  Add vegetable stock, 1/2 the can of mushroom soup, and soy sauce.  Slowly add in flour one tablespoon at a time, whisking with a fork the entire time to prevent lumps.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low again, adding sage, thyme and black pepper.  Allow to cook for remaining 10 minutes or so, stirring periodically and allowing gravy to start to thicken. 


The finished product, served with some vegetarian bacon and some wedges of a fabulous cara cara orange…one of my new favorite fruits.  Delish~



A Friend’s Delicious Chicken and Fried Rice…sort of
September 28, 2009, 3:21 pm
Filed under: Main Dishes

My friend Jae and I have some pretty similar taste in food, and when I talked to her the other night and she mentioned that she’d just made tumeric and salt fried chicken and some fried rice, my mouth was watering and I was ready to head for the store.  She reminded me that I don’t really eat meat, and believe me, at that moment, I needed reminding.  I did tell her, however, that since I am nauseated most of the time, I have been eating whatever sounds appealing and I fully intended to attempt to make her recipe, that she kindly listed on her awesome food blog here….

Until I went to the store and started perusing chickens, that is.  I couldn’t do it.  So, instead, I bought some extra firm tofu and decided I’d give her recipe the old college try anyway, with some minor subsitutions.

I pretty much followed her chicken recipe to the “t”, but with the extra firm tofu.  Then I started on the Thai fried rice recipe she’d listed and realized the tomato I’d purchased spcifically for this dinner had seen it’s better days by the time I actually got around to making the dish.  So, out it went and I instead subbed what I had, which were peas.  So be it.  I also had 2 bunches of green onions and no regular onions, so I used all of them.  Turned out just fine and as I was cooking up my rice in the final steps, I threw in my cooked tumeric and salt tofu.

It was very, very good.  Catch her original recipes as listed above, or give it a shot with tofu…either way it’s delish and my husband has already declared that I can make the fried rice as often as I’d like…


September 15, 2009, 1:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have always liked apples.  For years in college I went through a ridiculous amount of Granny Smith apples, enjoying the tartness and crispness of the apple.  I hadn’t delved far enough into my love of apples to experiment much with others, because the few times I did, I found ones that were too soft, too grainy, too flavorless, or any number of other defects.

I am lucky enough to live in close proximity to the University of Minnesota, though, whose new developments in apples have been news for years.  In the 90’s, they introduced me to the Honeycrisp.  The Honeycrisp quickly booted the old Granny Smith out of my life, and I had a new obsession.  Scouring the fall apple orchard reports for the best weekends to pick Honeycrisps, I went crazy every Autumn, using them for apple pies, apple crisps, caramel apples, and eating them by the bushel.  Don’t get me wrong, there are other varieties out there that are pretty good.  I love a nice crisp Pink Lady out of Australia, but the hometown success story was clearly my fave.  It explodes with crispness and sweetness

I have sad news to report to my long time friend the Honeycrisp, though…there’s a new kid on the block.  My mom has been talking for weeks about this new apple coming out.  She couldn’t ever remember the name of it, though, but insisted I must try it when I got an opportunity.  I half listened.  I mean, orchard weekends in Minnesota are coming up, and I’ll have my pick of tasty Honeycrisps any time now….and my second favorite, the Zestar.

So yesterday while I was at Kowalski’s, wandering the produce aisle, I glanced over the apples, thinking I would pass by and plan a trip to an orchard this coming weekend.  Then I noticed a sign with a name I didn’t recognize.  Could this  be the new apple in town?  SweeTango was the name.  Could my mom really forget the name “SweeTango”?  I grabbed 3 and kept shopping.

Later in the evening I was hungry for a snack and remembered my new found fruit.  I went to the kitchen, gave one a quick rinse and cut off a big slice.  Oh SweeTango this apple is good!!  I hurried to my laptop to look up the history of this sweet and tangy little darling.  Turns out, U of M researcher David Bedford created this beauty from the two best apples known to man.  What else but the Honeycrisp and the Zestar!?

It is just slightly tart, juicy as all heck, and a thing of beauty.  I’m sold.  Ahhh happy apple season to me!


Easiest Stuffed Shells
September 13, 2009, 5:57 pm
Filed under: Main Dishes

I’m going to begin by telling a story I shouldn’t.  At least, not if I want to retain any semblence of pride and/or dignity, but I’m going to anyway. 

When I first met D.Jones, I knew how to cook a little.  Okay, mac & cheese was about the extent of it.  And frozen pizzas.  Oh, and veggie burgers.  The latter of which, I never wanted to actually dirty a pan for, so I made them in my toaster.  Gross with a capital G.  I’m surprised I never got food poisoning.

I’m sure all of the above was because my mom is an absolutely fantastic cook, who also enjoys feeding the masses, so if the longing for a home-cooked meal would strike, I needed only drive the short distance to my parent’s house, or make a call and food would miraculously appear at my doorstep.

I wanted D.Jones to think I knew what I was doing, though, so one day I decided I would make my mom’s stuffed shells recipe.  After numerous attempts and some major frustration, I ended up sitting on top of my kitchen counter crying into a cheap bottle of chardonnay, ready to throw in the towel.  I made a last phone call to my mom to try to pin point what was going so drastically wrong and she said something to the effect of “Kristin, this is a pretty easy recipe.  Did you get the mixture in to the shells?”  And I replied “No!!  That’s part of the problem!  They keep breaking!”  There was a pause from her end of the extension and then she said “Umm…you cooked them, right?”

Huh.  Never saw that part in the directions….

I am happy to say that I’ve sinced figured out that to stuff shells, one must cook the pasta first, so my skills have improved significantly, no?  In fact, I’m so adept at stuffing pasta shells, that I made up my own vegetarian version of my mom’s recipe.  It’s so easy that I think I could have mastered this one on the first try, even so many years ago….

Easiest Stuffed Shells

20-22 pasta shells, cooked and drained!

1 small glass jar of Pace Picante sauce

1 can of tomato sauce

1/2 T. olive oil

1 bag of Boca or Morningstar meat crumbles (or whatever brand you like.  For this recipe, I prefer the morningstar sausage crumbles)

1/2 med. onion, diced

1 small cannister of french fried onions

1/4 to 1/2 frozen bag of corn

1 bag of pre-shredded Mexican cheese (2 c. I think?)

1 ripe avocado, diced (optional)


In a skillet, heat the olive oil and the onion.  When the onion begins to soften, add the corn and heat through.  Then dump in the meatless crumbles. (of course, you could make this with hamburger or ground turkey if you prefer…just obviously cook it ahead of time and then re-add it at this point) Stir to combine and heat through.  Then, stir in a large handful of the french fried onions and a large handful of the shredded cheese and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix the picante sauce and the tomato sauce, stirring together.

Use a measuring cup to remove about a cup to a cup and 1/2 of the sauce and add it to the meat/corn/onion mixture.  Stir together until blended.

Scoop enough of the remaining sauce into a glass 9X13 baking dish to just cover the bottom with a small amount. 

Begin stuffing the cooked pasta shells with the meat/corn/onion mixture and then laying them in the bottom of the baking dish.  My 9X13 dish holds exactly 20 nicely stuffed shells, which should use all of your mixture.

Once they are all in the dish, ladle the remaining sauce all over the top and then cover with cheese, and then the remaining french fried onions.

Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for about 30 minutes.  Remove cover (I just use a sheet of tinfoil) and bake a few more minutes until the cheese is nicely browned and yummy looking.


I serve mine with the diced avocado on top, which is fantastic!  I love this dish because the leftovers are just as delicious as the first night you make it…


Easy Tortellini Soup
September 3, 2009, 12:44 pm
Filed under: Main Dishes

Last week we had a stretch of a few days that had highs around 70 and lows in the 50s.  Not cold, by any stretch, but a cool reminder that fall is on it’s way.  It made me long for a nice, hearty soup dinner, but honestly, my usual energy level is missing in action lately.  A quick Google search brought me to this recipe, so with a few slight modifications and not much time, I had a that delicious, warming soup dinner that I wanted.

Easy Tortellini Soup

2 T. olive oil

3 to 4 cloves of garlic, diced or put through press

6 c. vegetable stock (or so…doesn’t need to be exact.  I used about 1 1/2 boxes of pre-bought organic stock)

9 oz. pkg refrigerated Buitoni 3-cheese tortellini (or the equivalent in any brand of frozen or refrigerated tortellini)

1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, chopped

5 to 6 oz. baby spinach leaves (I used about a 1/2 bag of prewashed leaves, which I simply rolled in bunches and sliced thin in a chiffonade.  You could also tear it or chop it…just make sure it’s washed and stemmed)

10 basil leaves (again, I prefer to chiffonade, but you can tear or chop if you prefer)

fresh cracked pepper

fresh parmesan for shredding on top


Add oil to stock pot or large saucepan on med heat.  Add garlic and saute until beginning to brown.  Pour in vegetable stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Stir in tortellini and cook until tender (or according to pkg instructions), it should only be a few minutes if refrigerated.   Add spinach, basil and fresh ground black pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes.  Then ladle into bowls and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

So easy and so delicious!  



Bailey’s Cheesecakes
September 1, 2009, 3:02 am
Filed under: Desserts

I was looking around online today and came across this wonderful recipe for beautiful little individual cheesecakes made in a muffin tin of all things!  I thought it was a fantastic idea and couldn’t stop thinking about them all day, until finally I gave in and made a quick trip to the neighborhood grocery store to pick up some things to make my own version.

Here was my inspiration over at The Way the Cookie Crumbles, and the following is what I came up with, really, because I’m not that big of a fan of peaches.  The recipe is essentially the same thing, but with Bailey’s substituting for the Amaretto, and strawberries for the peaches.  Oh, and I inadvertently forgot to add the heavy cream, and they still turned out perfectly…go figure.  I guess I lightened them up without even trying to….

Individual Bailey’s Cheesecakes

For the crust:

3 T. softened butter

1/3 c. sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg

3/4 c. all purpose flour

For the cheesecakes:

4 8oz boxes of cream cheese, room temp

1 1/3 c. sugar

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs

1/3 c. Bailey’s liquer, plus additional Bailey’s for serving

2 tsp lemon juice

fresh strawberries

1 dark chocolate bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin thoroughly with nonstick spray. 

For the crust;

Beat the butter with hand mixer until smooth.  Add in the sugar and salt and beat until creamy.  Add the egg and mix well.   Add in the flour and ditch the mixer for a spoon.  Stir until well combined.   Divide the mixture evenly between 24 muffin tins and spread over the bottom of each muffin cup.  Bake 7 to 9 minutes until they begin to brown around the edges.  Remove from oven and place muffin tins on cooling racks.   Reduce your oven temp to 325 degrees.

 Meanwhile, begin making the filling:

Beat all 4 blocks of cream cheese with hand mixture until very smooth.  Add sugar and salt and continue mixing.  Add eggs one at a time, throroughly mixing between eggs.  Add 1/3 c. Bailey’s and the lemon juice and mix until well blended. 

Pour batter into the muffin cups, filling them evenly to the top.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 150 degrees.  Remove muffin tins from oven and place them back on the cooling racks until they come close to room temp.  Then carefully remove the cheesecakes from the muffin tins and refrigerate until cool. 

Top with sliced strawberries, chopped dark chocolate and a splash of Bailey’s. 

(Truth is, my husband and I couldn’t wait for them to cool and ate 2 of them warm.  I also took the photos while they were still warm, so you can see they stood up pretty well, even before being refrigerated.)

Oh, and speaking of…I hear him going for round #2 right now!  Who can blame him!?  They really are beautiful and they taste even better than they look…


These may just become my new favorite homemade dessert, so a huge thank you to The Way The Cookie Crumbles for sharing….