Rachael Ray’s Veggie Chili


I love veggie chili. It’s great game day food, but even when it’s really hot out, it somehow still manages to be a great dinner choice. Maybe because it’s all veggies so it feels lighter than a meat filled chili would.

Anyway, one thing I haven’t been able to figure out with veggie chili is how to keep it from being kind of wimpy. You know what I mean. Somehow without the meat it just doesn’t feel quite like a chili sometimes.

That is, until now.

I was watching Rachael Ray’s week in a day and she happened to be making veggie chili. I have made a lot of iterations of a veggie chili, so I was like okay Rachael, what are you going to do? Surprise me.

And guess what?

She did.

She started out with sauteeing diced green and red bell peppers and an onion in some olive oil.


When those were softened, she added about a half cup of light beer and let that bubble for a bit.


Next a can each of black beans and red kidney beans, rinsed and drained, and a can of diced tomatoes, juices and all.


Let that cook for another few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You could stop there and be pretty happy, right?

Wrong! So so wrong. Here’s what Rachael did to transform this pot of veggies into a thick, delicious, complex veggie chili.

She added a can of refried beans!


Yup, refried pinto beans. I don’t know why I never thought of it, but as soon as she said it I was like, that’s genius.

Te refried beans warm up and melt into the veggies and create the thick sauciness around the peppers and onions and beans that you would get if you were using meat.

See that? Doesn’t that just look amazing?


Dish it up in big bowls topped with cheese or avocado or crumbled tortilla chips and click on the game.


Oh. It’s summer. There is no game?

Oh well. Crack open a beer and take your chili to the front porch and watch the world go by.

Kalamata Olive, Feta, Arugula Pizza



Friday night in my house has always been pizza night.

Which is very convenient during Lent when you need meat free dinners on Friday nights!

Now, pizza every Friday can sound a little boring.

But the thing about pizza is the possibilities are endless.

Mushroom ricotta, tomato basil, broccoli mozzarella…

Or, for something a little different, how about a Greek pizza?

Kalamata olives, feta and arugula.

Preheat the oven to 425.

Stretch out your dough and sprinkle with feta.


Add some pitted and chopped Kalamata olives


And then toss into the oven for about 10 minutes. We want to cook most of the way.

Then we’re going to remove form the oven, and sprinkle with arugula and add a drizzle of olive oil.


Back in the oven for another 4 minutes or so to wilt the arugula.


Then slice and enjoy.


A blend of Greece and Italy.

Hey, just like me and my fiance!

pasta e Fagioli

I missed E on the A to Z challenge. I got hit with a stomach bug and couldn’t manage anything more than channel surfing on the couch.

I’m going to cheat a little and sneak in the e here with the f. The first thing I was able to eat was scrambled eggs. Made by mom. You’re never too old to ask mom to come take care of you when you’re sick! And no matter what, mom’s scrambled eggs always taste better than mine.

So now I’m on the mend and I’m moving on to F.

Fagioli is Italian for beans.

Pasta e Fagioli is, simply, pasta and beans. It’s one of those amazingly simple Italian dishes that is really one of those poor man’s meals. I mean, it’s pasta and beans. Cheap ingredients. But those are the kind of meals that are the best.

Simple ingredients will always make the most delicious dinners.

There are two ways of making it. One’s in a red sauce and one’s in a garlicky white sauce. My family is partial to the red, so that’s what this recipe is for.

I’ve made it a couple times and have tweaked the recipe every time. But this time, I got it.

My fiance and my dad both told me to continue to make it this way. There are some times when you just don’t argue with the men in your life.

You will need:

  • 1 15 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2/3 cup tomato puree
  • 1-2 cups of water (depending on how thick you want it)
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni (or any other short pasta)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, drizzle some olive oil and toss in the onions. Turn to medium heat.


When the onions are translucent, add the celery and the garlic. (My garlic is green. I know. As a time saver, we crush a bunch of garlic cloves and put the crushed cloves in a container with some olive oil and store it in the fridge. This is a meme trick. If the garlic is young, it will react with the olive oil and turn green. It’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just the color of the stuff that turned the turtles into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.)


Let the celery soften, then add the can of tomatoes.


And the tomato puree and 1 cup of water. Season with salt and pepper and let the mix simmer for about 15-20 minutes.


Turn the burner off and, using an immersion blender (or a blender or food processor) blend the mix.


If, at this point, the mix is too thick for your taste, add in more water.


Turn the heat back to medium and add the rinsed and drained cannellini beans.


and your pasta and give a big stir.


Let this simmer for about ten minutes, until your pasta is cooked. You can let it go for longer on low. At this point, you can also pop it in the fridge for dinner another night.


Dish up a big bowl, add a piece of crusty bread and mangia!


Roasted Asparagus Over Spaghetti


Asparagus is such a spring-time vegetable, don’t you think?


Maybe it’s the vibrant green. Or its resemblance to blades of grass.

It just has me thinking spring.

Unfortunately, the weather here is still winter arctic freezing!

SO as much as I want to make light, vibrant dishes, I’m still in need of something to warm me up after the walk home in the biting wind.

And that’s where this dish comes in. The asparagus of sprint time gets roasted for the warm and peppery taste we crave in the cold, and then tossed over spaghetti for the comfort that only a bowl of pasta can provide.

This little dish straddles the seasonal line.

And the best part?

6 ingredients! Total.

  • Asparagus
  • Spaghetti
  • Ricotta cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 and cover a cookie sheet in foil.

Slice you asparagus up into bit-sized chunks, lay on the cookie sheet and drizzle with some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.


Pop in the oven to roast for about 15- 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your spaghetti.


When your spaghetti is cooked, drain the water and put the pasta back in the pot. Add a scoop of ricotta to the warm pasta and give it a stir until it melts in.


Top with the roasted asparagus and toss.


Dish up in big bowls.


And pray for spring.

Hey, you know how we wear pajamas inside out in hopes of a snow day?

Is there something to bring a Spring day?

Crepes with Mushrooms Onions and Gruyere

So we’ve done Italian and Irish this week, which covers my family. So I decided it was only fair to make something from his side.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but if I haven’t, my fiance is Greek and Armenian, but the Armenian part of his family lives in France. So a lot of the food he grew up with actually has some French influence.

One such dish? Crepes.

We ate our weight in crepes when we were in Paris!

I had only ever had a sweet crepe before, but while I was there, I fell in love with the savory ones. Melty cheese, salty ham, warm crepe wrapping it all up.

C’est Magnifique!

So I decided to bring us back to the streets of Paris with dinner.

Crepes are a tad fussy, but once you get into a rhythm, and break one or two, you’re fine. And they don’t have to be perfect! When you put them on the plate and they’re all covered with cheese and mushrooms and onions, no one will know!

Not having meme’s crepe recipe, I went to the webs and decided on Alton Brown’s. Because, well, he’s Alton Brown and he can do no wrong.

And because he made his batter in a blender.

And I’m always in for using a blender instead of a bowl and a spoon.

Plus, the blender makes it really really easy to pour out the batter.

I know. Alton Brown is a genius.

For the crepes you will need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter + extra butter for pan

For the filling, I used

  • sliced white button mushrooms
  • slice baby portabella mushrooms
  • 1 medium yellow onion, fine sliced
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
  • a splash of white wine
  • gruyere

To get started, toss all the ingredients for the crepe batter into the blender.


Give it a couple of quick pulses until it is smooth and combined.


Put the batter into the fridge for about an hour to rest.

While the batter rests, we’re going to make the filling.

In a skillet, drizzle olive oil and toss in the onions.


You really want to let these cook down and get nice and caramelized. It will give the filling a flavor sort of reminiscent of French onion soup and that combines two French food favorites in one dish!

When the onions are cooked down (Maybe 20 minutes) add a splash of white wine and scrape all the brown bits up from the pan. Then add the mushrooms.


Let the mushrooms cook down. Season with black pepper. I refrained from salting because the gruyere is rather salty.

When your batter has rested, it’s go time on the crepes.

You’re going to want a nonstick skillet or griddle. I used the griddle because I found it easier to flip the crepes.

First, melt some butter on the pan. You don’t want a pool of butter, just a nice layer. So take a paper towel and wipe the butter lightly. Hang on to the butter-soaked paper towel because you can use it if the pan needs some butter.


Carefully pour the batter onto the buttered skillet and swirl around into a thin layer. Don’t worry if it’s not a perfect circle. None of mine were. They taste the same.


Cook on one side for about 30 seconds. Then, with a spatula, very gently lift the crepe and flip.


Cook on the second side for about 20 seconds.

Remove from the pan and set on a plate to cool. Keep cranking out the crepes and stacking them up until the batter is done.

When you’re ready to assemble your crepes, toss one back onto the pan and sprinkle with grated gruyere.


Let the cheese melt for a few seconds and then scoop some of your mushroom and onion mixture on top.


Fold one side of the crepe over.


And transfer to a plate.


And repeat!


Pour some red wine and imagine you are sitting in a small cafe on the Champs Elysees.

Oh and if you have leftover crepes, they stay well in the fridge or in the freezer.

I have a great, quick lunch idea using some that I will share soon!

Spinach Artichoke Quiche

Spinach Artichoke dip is one of the greatest food inventions. Ever. Period.

However, it can’t be consumed in large quantities. Or with great frequency.

Especially not when your waistline is still recovering from the croissants and the crepes and the baguettes from your trip to Paris.

With Paris still on my mind, I started thinking about the fantastic foods we ate and I landed on quiche. My fiance’s cousin made an absolutely fantastic traditional quiche lorraine for us while we were there, loaded with cream and cheese and ham and a buttery crust. I knew my tummy couldn’t handle quite the same flavor bomb, but I thought I could lighten it up and mash it up with spinach artichoke dip.

And that’s how spinach artichoke quiche came to be.

This quiche doesn’t have a crust, which helps eliminate loads of calories right there, and is jam packed with spinach and artichokes, so the filling is more veggie than egg and cheese.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, drained
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • grated gruyere (I leave the amount to you)
  • parmesan cheese (again, I will never limit your cheese intake)

Preheat the oven to 375 and lightly butter a 9 inch pie pan.

In a large skillet, drizzle some olive oil and sautee the spinach and the artichokes. I just broke up the artichoke hearts into chunks with my hands. You can chop nicely if you wish.


When the spinach is nice and wilted, season with salt and pepper and then transfer the mixture to the pie pan.


In a large bowl, crack four eggs and toss in the gruyere and the parmesan cheese.


Using a fork, stir to combine.


Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the spinach and artichokes and add a sprinkling of parmesan to the top.


Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the eggs are set.


Slice it up and enjoy the mash-up of a quick Parisian meal with your favorite bar snack.


Moroccan Memory

Hello again blogosphere!

I’ve been away from you, traveling through London and Paris, and regaining my culinary verve!

In looking back at some of my last posts, I can see I was in a cooking rut. Making dinner had become a chore instead of the hour of relaxation and decompression it had previously been for me.

I was definitely in need of a break.

But now, I’m back in my itty bitty city kitchen with new culinary inspiration!

In London I stumbled upon a fantastic little Moroccan restaurant in the Leicester Square area. And I had one of the most amazing plates of food I have ever experienced. It could have been the charming waiter. It could have been the thrill of being to dinner by myself in a foreign city. Or it could have been the best darn cous cous I have ever had.

Whatever it may be, I was craving it when we got back. So I set to work to recreate the meal.

Moroccan food is my new obsession. The way the vegetables are roasted to tender perfection, the pairing of sweet and warm and savory spices, the burst of dried apricots nestled amongst the squash and sweet potatoes… Drool worthy.

This might not be authentic Moroccan, but it captured the essence of the meal.

This made enough for the two of us for dinner and extra for two or three lunches. The best kind of recipe!

You will need

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 yellow squash cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • a handful of shredded cabbage
  • a handful each of dried prunes and dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • couscous

Once all of the ingredients are chopped, it’s just a matter of layering all of the flavors in a big pot and letting them cook together.

Start by drizzling a big heavy bottomed pan with olive oil and tossing in the onion.



When the onion is softened, add the garlic, tomato paste and cinnamon.


Give a big stir and add about a 1/2 cup of water, stirring to combine the tomato paste.


Let this cook together for about 5 minutes, and then add the sweet potato, squash, carrots and cabbage.


Give the pot a big stir and add the apricots and prunes.


Give it another big stir to combine and then add about a cup and a half of water


Cover and let simmer over medium heat for about an hour, stirring twice.

After an hour, add the chickpeas and stir to combine.


Meanwhile, prepare the couscous. The chickpeas just need a few minutes to warm through. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Serve up big bowls of couscous and ladle the vegetable mixture over top.


Eating it I was back in the restaurant watching people walk around London…

Portabella Eggplant Stacks


This is a super easy, super light, super healthy dinner that was almost no effort at all.

I love eggplant parm., but boy can it be a process. If you don’t believe me, check it out here. Don’t get me wrong, on a lazy Sunday I have no problem hanging in the kitchen and frying up slices of eggplant.

But on a weeknight I just can’t see coming home from work and spending the time at the stove. Everything has its time and its place and the same is true for food.

So when I saw Giada making eggplant and portabella sandwiches on Food Network, I knew I had found the week night eggplant fix.

I eliminated the sandwich portion and instead made bigger stacks to make this a hearty and filling, yet healthy meal.

There is no frying. And the eggplant and portabella leaves you feeling full and satisfied, even without any meat.

For this recipe you will need

  • 1 eggplant sliced into 1/2 inch thick discs
  • 2 portabella mushrooms, stems removed
  • Italian-seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • flour (for dredging)
  • mozzarella cheese
  • marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 425.

Lay out your veggies.



And set up a dredging station. Flour, Egg, Breadcrumbs. Place a lightly oiled cookie sheet at the end of the assembly line.


Take a piece of eggplant and start by dunking it in the flour


then into the egg


then into the panko bread crumbs


Continue until all of the eggplant slices and the portabellas are coated and lined up on the cookie sheet.


Bake for about 20 minutes.

Plate up the stacks and top them with some mozzarella cheese and some marinara sauce.


Potato and Leek Bisque


So we’re getting ready for the polar vortex take two or the arctic blast or Mr. Freeze or Jack Frost or whatever it is that the weathermen are saying.

Which means I’m in soup mode.

I love soup. I could eat soup every night. I can even eat it when it’s hot out. But I especially love it on those chilly nights, ladled out in a coffee mug so you can curl your hand around the warmth as you eat and the liquid warms you from the inside.

This is one of those warming recipes.

It’s super simple too. Added Bonus

You will need

  • 3 leeks
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2% but use whatever you have)
  • olive oil
  • Salt
  • pepper
  • water

Start by cleaning your leeks really well. We fill a big bowl with water, split the leeks in half, cut them into chunks and then plop the chunks into the water. The sand and sediment will fall to the bottom while your clean leeks float to the top.

Drizzle olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and add the leeks. Cook over medium until the leeks are soft. About 10-15 minutes.


When the leeks are soft, add the milk and the potatoes to the pot, then add enough water to cover the potatoes and the leeks. The milk gives the soup a nice richness and creamyness, but thinning it out with the water keeps it from becoming too heavy.


Let this cook over medium, stirring, and checking that the milk does not boil. You want to keep it at a simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife.

Once the potatoes are tender, remove the mixture from the heat, season with salt and pepper and blend.


Spoon into bowls. To cut the richness, top with some sharp cheddar.


New Year’s Eve Vegetable Lo Mein


Did you know that eating noodles is good luck for the new year?

I was googling around for some New Year’s eve dinner inspiration and I came across this article on Woman’s Day about the good luck foods for the New Year.

In China, Japan and other Asian countries, it’s customary to eat long noodles, which signify longevity, on New Year’s Day. Since the noodles are never to be broken or shortened during the cooking process, the typical preparation for “Long-Life Noodles” is a stir-fry.

Well, I’ll drink to longevity! You can choose any combination of vegetables you like. You can add some pork or some chicken if you want to make this a meaty dish. Also, in some countries, pork is a luck New Year’s food as the pig symbolizes progress.

But as I always say, the beauty of cooking is the ability to adjust to your specific tastes. So have fun with it. Just don’t break the noodles!

So here’s my New Year’s Eve, Long-Life Vegetable Lo Mein.

You will need

  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 3 chopped scallions
  • white button mushrooms, sliced
  • snow peas
  • shredded cabbage (I like the coleslaw mix because it has cabbage and carrots all shredded and ready to go)
  • vegetable oil
  • soy sauce
  • stir fry sauce or teriyaki
  • noodles ( I used Japanese somen noodles which are wheat noodles that cook in like 2 minutes)

To get started, bring a pot of water to a boil. Then, in a large skillet, drizzle olive oil and add the ginger and garlic. Sautee for a few minutes.


Next, add the mushrooms and cook until they are browned.


Add a little water, maybe 1/8 of a cup, to the bottom of the pain. Then add in the snow peas. The water will help you scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pain and will steam the snow peas so they stay nice and crunchy.


After about 3-5 minutes, toss in a few handfuls of the shredded cabbage.



Add a few dashes of soy sauce and two tablespoons of teriyaki or stir fry sauce.


Add the noodles to the boiling water and let them cook while the cabbage wilts into the mix. When the noodles are done, drain and toss them into the skillet, stirring to coat them in the sauce. Top with scallions.



Serve up heaping bowls and toast to a new year!