Perfect popsicles

Ryan bought me a Zoku Quick Pop™ Maker for Christmas & I love it! It’s easy to use & I love that you can create your own recipes that are both healthy & dairy-free – it’s also nice to know exactly what’s going into your frozen treats…with the right ingredients,  you can be sure there are no artificial sweeteners, color, etc. Last night we decided to give it a whirl & made some delicious eggnog popsicles by combining soy eggnog, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, & sprinkling in some crushed cereal bits for crunch – yum!

The Zoku blog has recipes & there is a recipe book available for purchase as well. We decided to wing it for our first try & it turned out good; after all, Ryan is a master at winging it & having things turn out great.

by Valerie | 01.05.13 | Recipes | No Comments »

Christmas fettuccine

I am enjoying every minute of this joyous holiday season – holiday parties & get-togethers, delicious food & drink, & happy memories! We put together this “Christmas fettuccine” for a potluck & it was easy with only a few ingredients; I think it looks very festive with its red & green ingredients. We used al dente fiesta fettuccine, shallots, garlic, 2 packages of frozen spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, & salt & pepper to taste. Happy holidays!

by Valerie | 12.19.12 | Holidaze, Recipes | No Comments »

My heart on a plate & 3 g’s

I made this french toast for my sweetie this morning; I should divulge that this started out as toad in a hole, but since I used scrambled eggs it sort of ended up as more of a french toast. I like to think that by cutting the heart shapes out it made it taste better. Plus, he probably just appreciated that he wasn’t the one cooking for once.

And, for lunch – gouda & green apple grilled cheese; 3 g’s that make a perfect pairing, in my opinion! How about this for some grilled cheese inspiration?

by Valerie | 02.11.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

tamales tamales tamales

A few years ago I decided to buy a book on tamales because I was disappointed by the tamale selection here in Southeast Michigan. That is not to say that there are no places to find tamales, and even some good ones, they just aren’t as good as they can be or what I was used to growing up. A few weekends ago I had a little more time on my hand so I decided it was time to dig in and cook some tamales. I made two kinds but the fillings—nopales and roasted poblanos with corn; one would probably be enough for the masa that this makes we had quite a bit of leftovers which made for some delicious quesadillas. The masa recipe is a slightly modified version of Daniel Hoyer’s whipped masa recipe.


  • Several corn husks (about 24 or more)

Soak the corn husks for about an hour or more. They need to be pliable.

The Masa:

  • 3 1/2 cups masa for tamales
  • 2 1/4 cups hot water
  • 1 1/4 cups butter @ room temp (I used Earth Balance, we had some vegan friends coming over)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups veggie stock
  • 2 tbsp green chile powder

To make the masa mix the hot water and masa to make a dough. Set aside for about 30 minutes covered. Using a stand mixer whip the butter until smooth and fluffy. Add about 1-inch size pinches of the masa dough at a time, waiting for each one to be incorporated into the mix. Once you’ve added about 1/3 of the masa add some of the veggie stock and then start to alternate adding the masa and veggie stock until both are well incorporated. Add the chile powder and salt, mix until completely combined. You can test the masa mix by seeing if a small pinch floats in water. If it doesn’t add more veggie stock. Set aside until ready to use.

For the nopales:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used a chipotle infused one)
  • 3 large nopales (cactus pads) diced
  • 1 jalapeño minced
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tomatoes on the vine cored and deseeded and diced.
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt to taste

Heat a medium pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil; once the oil is heated add the garlic, jalapeño, and onion until they start to sweat. Add the nopales, Mexican oregano and thyme. Cook until nopales begin to soften, it will take a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to soften. Salt to taste. Remove from the pan and set aside.

For the roasted poblanos and corn:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 large poblano peppers
  • 1 small package frozen corn
  • 1 tsp butter (Earth Balance)
  • 1 tsp green chile powder
  • a sprinkle or two of granulated sugar to bring out/add to the sweetness of the corn
  • salt to taste

Pre-heat an oven to 375. Lightly coat the peppers in olive oil and place in the oven to roast. You’ll roast them until the skin starts to brown and gets puffy. Be sure to flip them at some point in time. It usually takes me 15-20 minutes in our oven to get them nicely roasted. While they roast, heat the corn up in salted water (we used a microwave, but you can use a pot if necessary). Drain and set aside. Once roasted put them in a brown paper bag to steam. Steam for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the bag, remove the skins, and then core and deseed. I usually like a little heat so I leave a few seeds in. Dice the peppers and mix in with the corn. Add the butter and green chile powder, mix until the butter is melted and well combined. Salt to taste. (Note you can add some good asadero cheese to this mix when you spoon it onto the tamale if you’d like (I did), or add some nu-yeast for a cheesy flavor (I did that for our vegan friends))

Putting it all together:

Prepare a pot or some sort of apparatus for steaming. Grab a well soaked corn husk, towel off excess moisture. In the upper half of it spoon some of the masa onto the husk and spread it about 1/4″ thick. Cover about 2/3rds of the top half starting from the center. Scoop a good spoonful or two of one of the fillings into the center of the masa. Fold/roll over the edges of the corn husk to form a tube. Fold the bottom half over the top half. Tie the tamale. Set aside. Once you have made all of your tamales place them in the steamer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Once finished remove from steamer and let rest for about 10-15 minutes. Serve however you want. We topped ours with some homemade salsa (below) and guacamole.

Extra special bonus green salsa:

  • 1+ tsp of olive oil
  • 4-5 medium to large tomatillos
  • 1/2 purple onion finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2/3 cup cilantro chopped
  • salt to taste

Lightly coat the jalapeño and tomatillos in the oil. Place in a pan over medium heat. Roast until the tops, bottoms, sides (if they will stay on their side) brown and become soft. Set aside to cool. Core the tomatillos. Remove the stem of the jalapeño, deseed if you desire, and mince. In a food processor or blender add the tomatillos, onions, garlic, jalapeño, and lime juice. Blend to a consistency you like (best to pulse blend if you have that option). Add salt and cilantro. Serve.


by Ryan | 02.08.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

wish I had got a bailout broccoli soup


Why “wish I had got a bailout broccoli soup,” simple because it has no “cheddah!”

So, yeah that was really lame. It is not that we couldn’t afford some cheese, the truth why this soup does not have cheddar started a few weekends ago when I tried my first attempt at making a broccoli cheddar soup. It ended in disaster because I added the cheese too early and it got stringy. This largely happened because of my refusal to actually use a recipe or read them all the way through. If I had done that I would have learned cheese likes to melt at low heat, and that there is actually a science to that. Lesson learned. This time around I was being patient, but right before I added the cheese I had Val taste test soup prior to adding the cheese. She liked it without the cheese so we decided to scrap the cheese (maybe use it as a topping) and leave it as is.


  • 2 tbsp butter (or Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 yellow onion diced
  • 1 carrot peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 orange bell pepper diced
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp course ground black pepper
  • 3 cups veggie stock
  • 1 russet potato peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 3 stems of broccoli (about 3-4 cups of florets)
  • 1 1/2 cups of soy milk
  • salt to taste

Heat a large soup makin’ pot up to medium heat. Melt the butter, add the onions, bell peppers, carrots, and garlic. You’ll cook these until they soften (about 10mins), as the onions begin to sweat add the thyme and black pepper. Err on cautious and add later than sooner as you don’t want to burn the thyme. Add the vegetable stock and potato, then bring to a boil. Once boiling add the broccoli, cook until the broccoli and potato are tender enough to stick a fork in (the broccoli should be bright green). Pour the soup in a blender or food processor, add the soy milk, salt to taste, and blend until smooth (or what ever your preferred consistency is).

You can add some cheese when serving it, or add some nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor if you want to keep it dairy free. It also makes for a pretty tasty baked potato topping.

by Ryan | 02.05.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

Penne with cherry tomatoes and fresh parsley

I am a sucker for a good pasta dish! It’s one of the foods I almost always crave. I find that, often times, the simplest dishes are the best & this one just further solidified that idea in my head – it was pretty amazing! So when I found this recipe on & shared it with my husband, who just so happens to be pretty amazing in the kitchen, he decided to recreate this for us for dinner last night. If you know him, then you know that he didn’t follow the recipe, line for line like I probably would have done if I’d made this myself; he read through the recipe earlier & then he decided to “wing it”. Pasta with fresh, cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley, kalamata olives (for me, at least, Ryan hates them & left them off his plate), the right mix of herbs & spices, & a little bit of fresh, grated parmesan cheese on top – what’s not to love?!?


1lb penne pasta
1-2 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic minced
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
2 pints grape cherry tomatoes (some halved, some quartered)
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 heaping tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp course ground black pepper
1/4 cup of fresh parsley chopped
salt to taste

Cook the pasta separately, drain, and set aside. Heat pan to medium heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil. Combine the onion and garlic in a pan and sauté with olive oil until onions are translucent. Add in the cherry tomatoes, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper and cook just until the tomatoes start to break down a bit. Add the pasta to the pan and remaining olive oil and toss together with the fresh parsley; wait until the last minute to add in the parsley as cooking it down wouldn’t give you the same fresh flavor. Serve and top with chopped olives and fresh, grated parmesan cheese.

We served ours with garlic bread and a nice Italian red wine. Buon appetito!

by Valerie | 02.05.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

spicy chipotle taco time

A while back ago I made a post about the Rick Bayless taco sauces. At that time I had made it a goal to try to replicate them by making the sauce myself. Since posting about them I’ve had several successful attempts at replicating some of the sauces, but due to my inability to write things down and remember what I did I never made good on the promise to post them. So after a year I’ve abandoned the mission to replicate and just made my own versions of taco sauces. So here are two version for a spicy chipotle taco sauce.

Número uno:

  • 2 chipolte peppers (canned) and a tablespoon of adobo sauce from the can.
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2 pan roasted tomatoes cored and deseeded
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt to taste

Número dos:

  • 2 chipotle peppers canned in a tablespoon of adobo sauce from the can
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tomatoes cord and deseeded
  • 1/3 bottle of beer (my Texan roots prefer Shiner Bock)

For the tacos themselves, we usually use some type of faux meat product (usually seitan). We start by cooking some onions (about 1/2 chopped, usually white or red), 2 cloves of garlic, and if we have them on hand some bell peppers either diced or sliced in some butter or olive oil over medium heat. We then add the meat and cook until heated all the way through, sometimes I let it brown a bit. Finally add the taco sauce lower the heat and cook for and additional 5-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

by Ryan | 01.29.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

2 c’s

cake & crepes:

Last weekend, we made this fluffy vanilla cake with classic vanilla buttercream frosting & Ryan took his first crack at making crepes (which turned out to be much easier to make that he thought, much to my delight). I had my crepes with almond butter, powdered sugar, & a squeeze of fresh lemon on top & Ryan had his with peanut butter filling & chocolate sauce on top.

While the crepes turned out well last week, I thought they tasted a bit too eggy or maybe just not quite sweet enough for my sweet crepes. So we tried out a different recipe today from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbook & they were delicious! Chocolate crepes with fresh strawberry filling (strawberries cooked in brown sugar & butter & fresh strawberries on top) for me & chocolate crepes with peanut butter & banana for Ryan. And, because I love potatoes so much, Ryan added a side of his yummy breakfast potatoes to my plate as well. As Julia Child would say, “Bon Appétit!”

by Valerie | 01.22.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

ringing in the new year with soup soup

Val has a cold, or something along those lines, I’m getting over a sinus infection I got for the Holidays so I figured a spicy soup was in order. This soup has several things in it but most importantly for the new year it has black-eyed peas. The tradition of eating black-eyed peas is recorded as far back as a Rosh Hashana in Babylonia times. According to wikipedia it was brought to the South by Sephardi Jews around the time of the Civil War. Supposedly eating black-eyed peas brings luck and prosperity for the new year. Whether all that is true or not, I don’t know. I do know however, Val grew up with the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on this day and we’ve continued the tradition in some form or fashion since we’ve been married.


  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (we used a chipotle infused olive oil)
  • 1 purple onion diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of dried thyme
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of Mexican oregano
  • 12 tomatoes on the vine cored and deseeded, cut into thin slices
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or more depending on when you plan on serving it see bottom of post)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 box of pasta shells
  • 1 can of kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of black-eyed peas drained and rinsed
  • salt to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Lightly coat the poblano peppers in olive oil (about 1/4 – 1/2 tablespoon should do it) place on a baking sheet and place them in the oven to roast. Roast them in the oven until the skin browns and pepper is puffed out. About 15 minutes. Place in a paper bag for a while to steam them. Once steamed core, deseed (some seeds are okay if you want them), and remove the skin. Dice them and set aside.

Get a large pot of water boiling to prepare the pasta. Cook the pasta al dente and drain and rinse. Set aside for later use. You can do these first to steps as you prepare the rest of the soup if you have multitasking/fast switching skills.

In a large pot over medium heat add the remaining olive oil. Once heated add the onions, garlic, Mexican oregano, and dried thyme. Cook them until the onions begin to become soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down. Add the tomato paste, water, veggie stock, and paprika and bring to rolling boil. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients (peppers, pasta shells, kidney beans, and most importantly for the new year the black-eyed peas). Lower heat and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Once finished eat some soup, get snuggled up on the couch, and watch the New Year’s day Twilight Zone marathon or any other TV series marathon of your choosing. And most importantly, feel yourself get zapped with good luck as your body digests the black-eyed peas!

UPDATE: After the soup sat several hours on low the shells had absorbed a significant amount of the broth. The moral of the story is, if you don’t end up eating it all once made you may need to be prepared to add in some more veggie stock, I added a couple more cups before storing it for later.

by Ryan | 01.01.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

Heavenly Eggnog Cake

What do you do when you have a full carton of Earth Balance Organic Soy Nog leftover from Christmas? You make Heavenly Eggnog Cake with Eggnog Buttercream of course – it’s delicious! We modified this recipe by swapping the milk for soy nog & adding in cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, & rum extract. And we used this recipe as a guide to make the Eggnog Buttercream.

by Valerie | 12.28.11 | Holidaze, Recipes | No Comments »

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