Easy Vegetarian Chili Dinner


I had some Soyrizo in the refrigerator–chorizo made from soybeans–and decided to try making chili with it. I sautéed one finely chopped onion in olive oil and added the Soyrizo after removing it from the casing and breaking it up into small pieces. After the onion was translucent, I added one deseeded and chopped red bell pepper and a deseeded and chopped poblano pepper. To this mixture I added one can undrained black beans and 1 small can chopped tomatoes. I let this mixture cook on low for several hours before serving. The Soyrizo makes it a little bit spicy, but if you want more spice add berbere, chili powder, etc. to your taste. I like thick chili but if you want it more like the consistency of soup, just add some broth or water.

The salad was made with a mixture of greens, chopped red bell peppers, dried bing cherries, and sliced leeks broken up so you can see the circles. These bowls have been in my family for decades. They were the everyday dishes my mom used when I was growing up.

Note: For those out there who question, and rightfully, some of the ingredients in meat substitutes, I do get it. However, once in a while I like to jazz up the food a bit.

Persian Rice with Chicken and Saffron


Per request from a friend who actually has recently harvested saffron and wanted recipes. No photos because I have not made this recently.

2 cups rice

4 cups water or enough to allow the rice to roll around freely in a large pot

salt to taste

1 large flour tortilla or chapati or a similar sort of flat bread

melted butter

onion and chicken breast

saffron

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Add rice to boiling water and boil until the rice grains easily break between your thumb and forefinger but not done. Rice should still be firm. Drain the rice in a colander. While rice is boiling, saute one finely chopped, medium sized onion in oil or butter. Add one large diced chicken breast to the onion and saute until tender. Do not overcook the chicken. After rice is drained, add the onion and chicken mixture to the rice. In the bottom of a large pot pour enough oil or butter to cover the bottom and place the tortilla/chapati on top of the oil. Scoop the rice and chicken mixture onto the tortilla forming a cone. Do not let the rice touch the sides of the pot. With the handle of a wooden spoon, punch several holes through the rice mixture all the way down to the tortilla/chapati. Add strands of saffron to the melted butter and pour over the rice cone. Place several layers of paper towels or a thick tea towel over the pot. Place lid firmly on top. Cook at medium low heat for 30 to 40 minutes. To test, place a small amount of water on your index finger and touch side of the pot. If it sizzles, the rice mixture is done. Turn onto a platter and serve. You will have this heavenly crunchy rice and tortilla/chapati mixture at the bottom of the pot. Serve with the rest of the rice and chicken mixture.

You must use long grain rice like Basmati for this dish. Do not use short grain or Jasmine rice. The goal is to have every rice grain totally separate when the dish is done.

Healthy and Fast Food–1


Since I like to know the source of food and never get take out when I am home, I create quick, easy, food that fits my personal health goals for food. Here is an easy recipe for one person. Just double, triple, etc. the proportions to fit the number of people for whom you are cooking.

Saute several chopped garlic cloves and cubed delicata squash–I used one half of the squash–in olive oil until almost tender. Add I filet fish (I used barramundi on which I had squeezed fresh lemon juice). When fish is 1/2 done, add 1/2 chopped poblano pepper and 1/2 bell pepper chopped. Saute until fish is done and peppers tender but still bright colored. Add whatever seasonings you prefer. I used basil essential oil. Serve over pasta or rice. I also grated asiago over the dish when I plated it. I prefer asiago over parmesan.

Note: You can also use butternut squash. Delicata has the advantage in that you do not have to peel it.

Moving 3–More Cooking with Paneer


As I mentioned in the previous post, I am left with one wok and one skillet. The wok seems to work better than the skillet for the sort of dishes I have been making. My previous Cooking with Paneer has been one of my most popular posts. Here is another edition of Cooking with Paneer.

For those who did not read the previous Cooking with Paneer post, paneer is a traditionally East Indian white cheese that does not melt when heated. It is a good source of protein for a vegetarian dish. I use it when a dish calls for tofu because I prefer it to tofu.

Here is a photo of my latest paneer dish.

The paneer in this photo is the white cubes. I sautéed chopped garlic, chopped onions, and purple potatoes in olive oil. Add whatever spices you prefer. Sometimes I use basil essential oil, sometimes the Ethiopian spice berbere. When these were tender, I added the broccoli and coarsely chopped poblano peppers. Saute just until these vegetables are tender but still bight green. Finally, add the paneer and saute just long enough so the paneer is heated through. Serve over rice or farro.

By the way, I did try the rice in a bag since I did not have a normal saucepan. I do not recommend it unless you are desperate for rice. It is extremely bland and boring.

Moving — 2 Cooking


For a few more weeks I am staying at my daughter’s house in Amarillo. A lot of stuff is packed and some of it is already in California. As a consequence I have to cook a bit differently. The usual pots and pans are gone. What is left is one skillet and one wok like pan. The other evening I decided to try one of my favorites anyway using the wok. It turned out great.

I chopped up some onion, garlic, purple potatoes, and Brussel sprouts. I poured olive oil in the pan, added the onion and garlic and potatoes. When they were almost done, I added bite sized pieces of chicken breast. When they were nearly tender, I added the Brussel sprouts with a touch of basil essential oil.

Since I had no pot in which to cook rice, I broke up some grainy bread into bite sized pieces, put the pieces in a bowl and poured the above over them. It was delicious.

Because I love rice but cannot cook it the usual way, I bought some basmati you can supposedly cook in a bag in the microwave. I remain skeptical about this but plan to try it tomorrow evening. I will let you know how that goes.

Two Healthy, Easy Dishes for Dinner


Easy Asian Style Main Dish

I rarely measure, I often experiment, try new flavor combinations. To create this dish I sautéed several cloves garlic, coarsely chopped, in oil–I use olive for just about everything. I peeled and cubed 1/2 sweet potato and finely chopped approximately two tablespoons fresh ginger. I added these to the olive oil. When the garlic and sweet potatoes were tender, I added 1/2 coarsely chopped red bell pepper and several handfuls of baby bok choy which I had sliced into large pieces. When the bok choy was tender, I added peanuts and Thai sweet chili sauce. I served this over Jasmine rice.

Purple Cabbage with Poblano Peppers, and Garbanzo Beans

I had some left over cabbage and decided to create a new dish. Once again I coarsely chopped several cloves garlic and sautéed them in olive oil. When they were tender and slightly browned, I added coarsely chopped purple cabbage and poblano peppers, sautéing only until they were barely tender. To this mixture I added basil essential oil. Then I added the garbanzo beans. Do not add them too soon because it makes them mushy. I served this over conchiglie pasta from Italy.

Note: I use several essential oils in cooking–basil, fennel, lemon, cumin, thyme, rosemary, cardamon. However, they are intense so if using essential oils, use only a little, taste, then add more if necessary. It is easy to over do it.

For more recipes like this, see my most recent book, “You’re Gonna Eat That?!” It is filled with many simple pescatarian and vegetarian recipes.

Cooking with Paneer


Although I did know what paneer is–a white cheese originally from India, I had no idea what to do with it. At the last trip to the grocery, I saw it there with all the other specialty cheeses and said to myself, “Why not try this?” I’ve made India dishes of various kinds off and on for decades but never used paneer.

My first experiment resulted in this:

Here is the recipe: sauté 5 to 6 coarsely chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil (I know you should use ghee but I did not have any). Finely chop fresh ginger to equal 2 – 3 Tablespoons. Add to the garlic. Stir in garam masala or curry powder–I used some of both which I had on hand. Add paneer which has been cut into cubes. After the above were adequately cooked, I added coarsely chopped arugula and when it was wilted, I added frozen peas and continued cooking only until they were warm. I served it over basmati rice which I cooked while making the paneer recipe.

I made this a couple of days ago. Today I am experimenting with another paneer recipe I created. This time I will mix what I have on hand, chopped onions, carrot coins, chopped beets, paneer, and chopped poblano peppers. I will use the same spices as before.

Both these recipes are vegetarian.

Quick and Healthy Vegetarian Dinner


This evening I needed to make something quick, easy and healthy with ingredients I had in the house. I covered the bottom of a skillet with olive oil, added some chopped onions and sweet potato. When they were tender, I added chopped red bell peppers, poblano peppers, and arugula. When the arugula was wilted, I added walnuts and great northern beans and basil essential oil. I served this over farro.

I never cook farro like the directions on the package. I find the result boring. Here is my method. Cover the bottom of a saucepan with avocado oil. Saute one cup of farro in the oil for a couple of minutes at high heat. Add three cups of water and some roasted garlic bouillon. Turn down to a lower heat so that it is boiling slowly. Cook for about 1/2 hour. Add more water if needed. I always cook it down so I do not have to pour off any of the broth.

Christmas Baking


Some years I do a lot of baking. Not so much this one because not going to see so many people because of Covid. Today I baked anyway, made pumpkin bread using Mom’s recipe. Many go out and buy new appliances. Not I. In this photo you will see the electric mixer my parents gave me decades ago. Yes, it looks a bit used and rough; it still works perfectly–metal, not plastic, but not heavy like the popular brands now.

Mom always baked her pumpkin bread in cans like this and gave some for presents. One can is just plain pumpkin bread, the other two have chopped walnuts. Mom’s recipe is on page ten in the cookbook, “You’re Gonna Eat That!?” I alter it a bit and here is the general way to make it:

Sift 3 cups flour with 1 tsp cinnamon–I used cinnamon from Ethiopia, 1 tsp grated nutmeg, 1 tsp allspice, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda. Set aside. Mix 2 cups sugar with 1 cup oil–I used avocado, add 3 beaten eggs and mix in the mixer until thoroughly blended. Add 1 tsp vanilla and a couple drops of clove essential oil. Add I small can pumpkin; mix. Gradually add the dry ingredients. Blend thoroughly. At this point I spooned the mixture into one of the cans. Then I added a cup of chopped walnuts to the rest and spooned that mixture into the remaining two cans. Bake at 325 for an hour or until tester comes out clean. Cool on rack and remove from the coffee tins.

Tomorrow I will make Mom’s pumpkin pie also in the memoir/cookbook.

Happy Holidays to all of you!!!

Wandering the World–Food


My travels have not only enlightened me personally, but also enabled me to create recipes from my food adventures around the world. Due to the recommendations of friends and family worldwide, I created a cookbook/memoir with stories and recipes. Len Leatherwood, new President of the Story Circle Network, says, “This is a cookbook after my own heart, filled with a wide range of healthy recipes from several cultures that will add flavor, color, and variety to any table.” Jennifer Archer, award winning writer and editor elaborated further, “A feast for the senses…combines colorful stories, poems, and mouth-watering recipes that inspire readers to experience new places, new tastes…from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Scandinavia, and America.”

This would make a great Christmas present for foodies and people who want worldwide food adventures. It can be ordered online from: http://www.dreamcatcherbooks.com and go to Angel Books.

Recipes for the food in the photos above are included in the book. More food photos follow:

Lemon pasta with mixed salad topped with grated asiago cheese.

Many of the recipes feature berbere, a spice used in Ethiopian cooking. The book also includes four different recipes for salmon and many vegetarian and vegan recipes using spices from around the world.