Vegan Comforts
January 2, 2011, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Main Dishes, side dishes and salads | Tags:

Today is January 2nd, 2011.  What that means is that it’s the day I remove all traces of Christmas 2010 from the Jones residence.  Taking down all of the festive holiday stuff, paired with the fact that all of the excitement of the season is now a memory sort of makes me sad.   It happens every year, and though I’m happy to have a living room that has once again seemingly doubled in size, it also makes me long for just a touch more comfort food.

Today I decided to try some vegan cornbread stuffing, some crunchy roasted potatoes with garlic, and a nice salad to round it all out.

I started with the roasted potatoes.

Crunchy Roasted Potatoes with Garlic

2 large baking potatoes

olive oil

Salt, pepper and cayenne pepper

6 cloves of garlic

Preheat oven to 375.

Wash and scrub two large baking potatoes and cut into cubes.  Toss them with olive oil and lay them in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sea salt, fresh ground pepper and cayenne pepper (to taste).

Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with a bit more olive oil, and add approximately 6 medium to large cloves of garlic, sliced into smallish pieces. 

Use spatula to turn potatoes to brown on other sides.  Add garlic to baking sheet and return to oven for additional 20 minutes or so.

The result should be some nicely browned, crispy potatoes and some delicious roasted garlic.  Mmmm…


Vegan Cornbread Stuffing

1 bag Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing

1 T. vegan margarine (Earth Balance)

1 T.  olive oil

1 small red onion

1 c. chopped celery

2 c. vegetable stock

3/4 T. poultry seasoning

salt & pepper

In medium to large skillet, melt vegan margarine with 1 T. olive oil.  Add poultry seasoning, celery and onion and saute until softened.

In casserole dish, put cornbread stuffing mix, celery and onion mixture and 2 c. vegetable stock.  Stir to combine and moisten all of the stuffing mix.

Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes.


Game Day Artichoke Dip
November 2, 2009, 1:27 am
Filed under: side dishes and salads

Today was a day to splurge on some serious game day less-than-fat-free chow, as I knew I was going to be able to celebrate my Vikes schooling the Packers.  Plus, my husband is a Packer fan, and I thought he might want a little something to eat while he cried in his beer.

This scrumptious, rich and delicious recipe was taken from the Food Network website here, and is Paula Deen’s Three Cheese Hot Artichoke Dip.  I made some very, very minor modifications for personal taste which I’ll list below.  Hit the link above if you want Ms. Paula’s original.


Hot Artichoke Dip 

8 oz. softened cream cheese

1 c. mayonnaise

14 oz. can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 small bunch of green onions, white parts chopped (about 6 onions?)

1/2 c. grated parmesan

1 c. shredded mozzarella

Approximately 6 shakes of Tabasco

1 dash of Worcestershire


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add mayo and again beat until combined.  Add all other ingredients and stir together until well combined.  Transfer to a pie plate or baking dish.  Bake about 40 minutes until bubbly and top is lightly browned.  Serve with crackers or veggies.  I served it with Triscuits, which was delish!


My Darling, Caprese…how I adore thee
August 24, 2009, 7:23 pm
Filed under: side dishes and salads

I think I perhaps mentioned an attempt this year to grow my own tomatoes.  We’ve gotten some, but truth is, I tried to container grow them, and having no clue what I was doing, I overcrowded.  The ones that are surviving are delicious, though, and I never understood the joy of growing my own food until this year. 

Yesterday Cooper picked a few small ones for me and I immediately thought they’d be enough for some vegetarian BLTs for tonight’s dinner.  Then I remembered the other scrumptious looking locally gown beauties I saw at our neighborhood grocery store last night, and I thought of the perfect side dish for our BLTs….a Caprese pasta salad. 

Yeah, I know…not overly original, but I can assure you that when I just had my first biteful of that basil, tomato and mozz, I didn’t care in the least!

Here’s what I did this time…

Caprese Pasta Salad

3 c. dry pasta of choice (I used whole wheat rotini)

4 to 5 med. tomatoes

10 large basil leaves

1 c. mozzarella pearls

salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic

2 T. olive oil

1 T. balsamic vinegar


Cook pasta according to directions.  Rinse and allow to cool.

In the meantime, chop tomatoes into bite sized pieces. 

Chiffonade basil leaves by rolling them up together and slicing thinly.

Add chopped tomatoes, basil shreds and mozzarella to pasta.

In small bowl, add balsamic vinegar, garlic cloves either finely diced or put through garlic press, and salt and pepper to taste.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil.  When whisked together, pour over pasta, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.  Toss gently and serve or chill to serve later.

Mmmm, mmmm.  I could never tire of this combination of flavors.  So simple and such a wonderful fresh taste of summer!


Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
August 23, 2009, 11:55 pm
Filed under: Main Dishes, side dishes and salads

This morning, Cooper, D.Jones and I walked to a local farmer’s market.  I have been trying to talk D.Jones into joining a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where you pay a fee beginning in February and throughout the growing season, you pick up a weekly 3/4 bushel box from a neighborhood drop site and enjoy locally grown, seasonal produce.

He thinks I wouldn’t use it all and we would feel awful for wasting any of it.  I’m trying to convince him otherwise.

So, when we went to the farmer’s market today, we picked up some gorgeous beets and I promptly went home and began looking up recipes with which to use them.

I found this recipe from Giada de Laurentiis and made a few minor modifications to come up with this….

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 T. honey

1/4 c. olive oil

salt and pepper

4 to 5 med to large beets, cooked and peeled and cut into bit sized cubes

4 c. mixed salad greens

1 handful walnuts and 1 handful almonds, toasted

1 oz. craisins (I used an individual snack pack)

1 ripe avocado, cut into bite sized cubes

crumbed goat cheese


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line baking sheet with foil. 

Whisk vinegar, honey and shallots in bowl.  Slowly add olive oil while whisking. 

Place cubed beets in bowl and drizzle with just enough of the above vinaigrette to toss to coat.  Place beets on foil-covered baking sheet and roast  for 12 to 15 minutes.  The beets will begin to carmelize. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Toss mixed salad greens, walnuts, almonds, and craisins with remaining vinaigrette.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Divide salad between 2 to 3 large plates.  Place cubed avocado and beets on top of salad and then sprinkle with goat cheese. 


The Tastes of Summer
August 1, 2009, 3:29 am
Filed under: Main Dishes, side dishes and salads

In an effort to make a meal that was not only organic, but seasonal as well, which I am sometimes bad about being mindful of, we enjoyed the heck out of some delicious and juicy summer tomatoes the other night. 

Roasted Tomato Soup with Basil with homemade croutons

3 lbs. tomatoes, halved

1 small onion, quartered

3 garlic cloves

1 T. olive oil

2 T. thyme

salt and pepper to taste

handful of basil leaves (10 to 12?)

Grease baking pan. (I used a paper towel with a bit of olive oil and rubbed the entire inside of a baking dish).  Place tomatoes, onion and garlin in baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with thyme and salt and pepper.  Bake at 400 degrees for half and hour.  Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.

In blender (for smoother consistency) or in food pro for a slightly chunkier soup, process until blended.  Transfer to sauce pan and heat through.  (at this point, I was thinking the soup was a tad thin for Cooper to enjoy, so I added 1/2 cup of soy milk…but it’s not necessary).

For croutons:

I took a fresh baguette and sliced it thinly.  Then cut each slice into small cubes.   While tomatoes in baking dish were cooling, I tossed the cubes with a small bit of olive oil, spread them on a cookie sheet, reduced oven temp to 350, sprinkled them with garlic salt (you can use any herb) and baked them until they were crunchy and turning slightly golden.


To round out our meal, I added a side of the following salad:

Onion, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

3 tomatoes, chopped

2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 med. onion, diced

1/4 c. olive oil

2 T. mayo

1 T. brown rice vinegar

1 T. dijon mustard

1 clove of garlic (put through press)

Crumbled feta for topping

Salt and pepper to taste

In large bowl, combine onion, tomatoes and cucumbers.  In small bowl, whisk together oil, mayo, dijon, vinegar, minced garlic, salt and pepper.  Pour over tomatoes, cucumbes and onion and then toss to coat.  When serving, sprinkle with feta.

Arugula Salad and Puff Pastry Pizzas
July 24, 2009, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Main Dishes, side dishes and salads

I’ve been eating a vegan diet for some weeks now and haven’t found it too difficult to maintain, honestly, until today.  Today I thought I’d make my cheesehead hubby a nice little treat before I had to run off to class and leave him with the wild child.  My husband hasn’t protested one bit about not having anything other than soy cheese  in the house lately, though I know it’s a hardship for him.  The man loves his cheese, and truth be told…I’m guilty as well.

So, in good faith I made these little puff pastry tidbits and next thing ya know, I was diving into the gouda.  I’m so ashamed.  Not really.  It was delish.

Anyway, I figure I’ll just limit that kind of stuff and still try to eat conscientiously for the most part.  Thankfully I never did place a title on anything I’m doing as far as eating and/or lifestyles, so I’m not a cheating vegan or anything, I’m just a girl who doesn’t want to do any harm, but can’t always give up the goods.  🙂

Kay, here’s what we had for dinner last night that caused my downfall.  The salad was good, but honestly, I prefer spinach to arugula, or a nice mix of both.  Arugula alone to me is just too much.

Arugula Salad

1 package of organic pre-washed arugula leaves

1/2 large while onion, thinly sliced

2 med tomatoes, cut in wedges


2 T. olive oil

1 T. lemon juice

1 T. white wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Combine arugula, onion & tomato.  Whisk dressing ingredients with a fork or small whisk and drizzle over salad.  Toss gently.


The salad was nice and light, and I love using the fresh, sweet, summer tomatoes.  Which leads me to “the” pizza bites.  Mmm…worth every minute of the cheese consumption.

Meditteranean Puff Pastry Pizza Bites

1 sheet of puff pastry dough (if frozen, thaw according to directions)

3/4 c. shredded gouda

1 diced tomato

1/3 c. kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1/2 c. crumbled feta

minced basil for topping, if desired

Unfold puff pastry and cut sheet into 16 squares.  Transfer squares to greased baking sheet.  Sprinkle squares with gouda, then top with tomatoes, olives and feta.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes or until beginning to brown on edges and bottom of puff pastry.

Sprinkle with basil, if using, and serve warm. 


Garlicky Tomato and Basil Couscous
May 3, 2009, 9:35 pm
Filed under: side dishes and salads

If you’ve read any of my prior posts, you probably get that I love couscous.  In particular, Israeli couscous.  So, with that in mind, I try to incorporate  couscous into many of our meals at home.  It helps that our three year old is also a fan.

You also may have read in prior posts that my husband is a pickier eater, at times, than said three year old.  He tries very hard not to criticize anything that I make, but sometimes it’s apparent that he’s not overjoyed….the other night being one of them.

The other night he announces that he doesn’t really like Israeli couscous.  Ooops.  Oh well.  He could have said something like a year ago….

Today though, he’s out of town, so out comes the Israeli couscous!  That, added with one of my favorite combos of tomato and basil, and I have one totally yummy salad for lunch.

Garlicky Tomato and Basil Couscous

1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous

2 cups water

15-20 grape tomatoes

fresh basil leaves (8 to 10 leaves or so)

1/3 c. pine nuts

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

olive oil (1/3 cup plus 1 or 2 T.)

1/2 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Cover bottom of medium saucepan with olive oil (1 to 2 T.).  Add 2 cups Israeli couscous and toast on med-low heat, stirring constantly until beginning to brown.  Add 2 cups water and increase heat to bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Let simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes or until water is absorbed.

Remove couscous from pot and let cool in large bowl.

While couscous is cooling toast pinenuts in skillet over low heat, just until warmed.  Then add to couscous.

Cut grape tomatoes in halves or thirds and add to couscous.  Wash basil leaves and tear into small pieces.  Add to couscous.


For dressing:

Whisk together 1/3 c. olive oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, 3 to 4 garlic cloves put through a press, and salt & pepper to taste. 

Pour over couscous, tomatoes, basil and pinenuts and toss.


I love the crunch of onion in cold salads, so I also added about 1/4 of a red onion, finely diced.  The salad is wonderful without it,  and some may find the onion overwhelming, but I like it with the onion.  Also, right before serving, I added a little bit of freshly shaved parmesan to the bowl.  I also found that to be a nice addition.