Tag Archives: vegan

Lemon Cucumbers and Peanut Sauce

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I’m curious…  Have you ever heard of or seen lemon cucumbers before?  The reason that I ask is that I have to tell you that lemon cucumbers are my all time favorite variety of cucumber.  Every year I grow one or two plants in my little garden and for about 4 months during the summer, I get big handfuls of tennis ball sized sweet little cucumbers.  This year, due to lack of garden space, I had to grow my lemon cucumber plants in a pot.  They did surprisingly well and I will be sure to try that method again next year.

One of the ways I like to eat lemon cucumbers is to slice them into thin slices and dip them into a creamy homemade peanut sauce.  I could eat lemon cucumbers and peanut sauce all day if I could… I first was introduced to peanut sauce by my grandmother many years ago.  She always seemed to have a small bowl of peanut sauce on the table at family barbecues and meals.  I loved to drizzle it on many Indonesian dishes such as pork satay, nasi goreng and gado gado.   Many years later, I’ve taken peanut sauce a step further and put it on pizza, tofu tacos and turkey burgers.  Peanut sauce is so versatile and delicious!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALemon Cucumbers

Lemon cucumbers resemble lemons with the yellow color and oval shape.  What I like about lemon cucumbers is that you don’t have to peel them for the skin is paper thin and you can eat them like an apple.  After picking them, you will notice that the cucumbers have a bit of a rough exterior.  All I do is wash them well and rub off the small little stickers or spines with a damp cloth that grow on the outer skin of the cucumber.   Once cleaned up, the skin is smooth and the cucumber is ready to eat.  Lemon cucumbers are delightfully mild and delicious.  Lemon cucumbers have a short shelf life as compared to the green cucumbers that you see in the store.  Once picked you have to eat them within a day or two.  Maybe that is why they are hard to find except if you grow them yourself or visit a farmers market.  Lemon cucumbers taste great sliced up in salads, on sandwiches or in a pickle.  If you get a chance to purchase or grow lemon cucumbers, be sure to make some of my peanut sauce for dipping!  Enjoy!  Tessa

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1 Tbls. Indonesian soy sauce
  • 1 Tbls. sweet chili sauce
  • regular soy sauce (optional, to taste)
  • sambal oelek or red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Lemon cucumbers (regular cucumbers can be substituted)

Grab a medium sauce pan or saucier.  Find a whisk.  Add all ingredients to the pan and cook on low heat for 20 – 30 minutes, whisking constantly.  You want the flavors to marry and the sauce to thicken.  Taste it.  If it is too sweet for your liking, add some soy sauce.  If you want it spicier, feel free to add some sambal oelek or some red pepper flakes.  Remove from heat and let it cool.  Pour into a serving dish.  While preparing the peanut sauce, wash and slice the cucumbers.  Serve cucumbers with the peanut sauce.  Makes nearly 1 1/2 cups.

Bean Salad and the Little Applegate River

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Yesterday morning Bruce and I took a drive to the Little Applegate River here in Southern Oregon. Bruce wanted to go on a 5 mile run along the Sterling Ditch Mine Trail.  As for me?  Oh heck to the no!  I had no interest in running. All I wanted to do was spend my morning in a leisurely fashion and exercising my camera…

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While Bruce was out running along the trails, I made my way down to the Little Applegate River.  The water was ice cold and crystal clear. The trees and plants growing along the banks were green and lush.

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What a lovely place to spend part of my morning. The sound of the water and the wind through the trees was so relaxing…

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Across the river from where I was standing was the remnants of a gold mining operation that took place over a hundred years ago.

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A branch of an Oregon Ash tree.

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Bruce on his way down the trail and towards the finish line.  Once he cooled down, we hopped back into the truck and headed back home.  I needed to get back in order to make my bean salad to share at a barbecue later on that day with family and friends.

My bean salad is a riff on a bean salad recipe that my mother had jotted down in the back of an old cookbook decades ago.  I made my salad a bit simpler and left out the green beans and Worcestershire sauce.  The reason for leaving out the green beans?  The recipe called for canned green beans…  Nope.  That was not happening.  I don’t buy canned green beans.  I won’t eat them.  I can’t stand them… And as for the Worcestershire sauce.  I was out.  No big deal.

My bean salad is a simple mixture of three kinds of beans, kidney, black and chick pea.  It’s tossed with red onion, red bell pepper, parsley and a sweet red wine vinaigrette.  It’s easy, delicious and a perfect side dish for a Memorial Day barbecue.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can kidney beans
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans
  • 1 15 ounce can chick peas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • seasoning salt and black pepper to taste

Begin by rinsing and draining the beans.  Add to a medium sized bowl.  Add red bell pepper, red onion and parsley.  In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients to make the sweet red wine vinaigrette.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Add vinaigrette mixture to bean mixture and toss to coat.  Refrigerate covered for at least 4 hours before serving.  Makes about 6 servings.

Snow Pea Slaw

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Early this morning, barely after finishing my cup of coffee, I grabbed my metal pail off the pot rack and headed straight out the back door to my little garden…  My reason?  My snow peas are finally ready to pick!  Every spring I plant snow peas in March and by mid May I have plenty to add to stir fries and salads.  Sometimes, I may even have extra to share with family and friends.  Snow peas prefer cool wet weather and by the time summer rolls around, they stop producing and the vines quickly wither away.

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My favorite variety of snow pea is the Oregon Sugar Pod II.  It’s a hardy variety of snow pea and is fairly resistant to pests and disease.  It’s a prolific producer of beautiful 3 – 4 inch long pods that taste wonderful raw or cooked.

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This year I planted my snow peas in large pots and I supported them with tomato cages.  Once the snow peas are done for the year, I swap the peas out for my favorite heirloom tomato plants.  Growing below the snow peas are edible yellow pansy blossoms.  Behind the peas in the raised boxes are some newly planted heirloom tomatoes.

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Snow peas climb using their tendrils…  Tendrils grow quickly and wrap around anything that will support them.

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The beautiful white pea flowers quickly produce tender green pods.  Within a couple of days, this pod will be ready to pick.  Sometimes my snow peas never make it into the kitchen.  They taste delicious right off the vine!

A few feet away from my garden I planted some giant allium bulbs.

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The round purple flowers are just stunning!  They grow over three feet tall and bloom from May through June.  This is the third year that the allium bulbs have bloomed.  I hope they come back and bloom again for us next year.

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While I was picking the snow peas, I noticed that some of my purple cabbage was ready to harvest.  I planted only 6 heads of cabbage this year but I am starting to think that it was a bit much…  Fortunately, cabbage has a fairly long shelf life in the refrigerator as compared to other vegetables such as lettuce and spinach.  I picked the largest head and thought it would be wonderful in a Snow Pea Slaw.

My Snow Pea Slaw is a fresh combination of snow peas, purple cabbage and an Asian inspired sesame dressing.  It’s easy to make and tastes wonderful!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound snow peas
  • 1/4 pound purple cabbage
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs sesame seeds (I used black and white mixed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 4 – 5 drops sesame oil (or to taste)
  • salt and pepper

Begin by slicing your snow peas lengthwise into this strips.  To make the process go faster, stack two or three snow peas on top of each other and then slice.  Set aside.  Thinly slice the purple cabbage into similar sized pieces as the snow peas.  Add cabbage to snow peas in a medium sized bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the canola oil, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, sugar, sesame oil, salt and pepper.  Add dressing to the snow pea and cabbage mixture.  Mix well and serve.  Makes approximately 2 – servings.  Keep refrigerated for up to 4 hours.

Mexican Style Pickled Vegetables

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Mexican Style Pickled Vegetables

If you love hot and spicy food, you are in for a real treat.  This unassuming little dish of pickled vegetables will fire up your taste buds.  My Mexican Style Pickled Vegetables is a wonderful combination of marinated bright orange carrots, crunchy cauliflower and smoking hot Serrano peppers.  I like to serve my Mexican Style Pickled Vegetables whenever I make homemade tacos, burritos or enchiladas.

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Serrano Peppers.  Use gloves when slicing these little bad boys…  Also, be sure to not touch your eyes or nose after working with these peppers.  Wash your hands well after working with the peppers.  Trust me.  You will not like what they will do to you.  I made that mistake once.  If you can’t handle the heat from the Serranos in the dish, you can dial it down by simply adding milder peppers instead.

My Mexican Style Pickled Vegetables is not only easy to make but vegan too.  Next time you serve Mexican cuisine at your home, be sure to make a batch of these pickled vegetables to serve along side your favorite dishes.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 pound cauliflower
  • 3 Serrano peppers
  • 1 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic

Begin by washing and peeling the carrots.  Slice diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces.  Set aside.  Wash and cut the cauliflower into bite sized florets and set aside with the carrots.  Trim the tops of the peppers and cut into 1/2 inch sized pieces.  In a non reactive pan, add vinegar, water, sugar, bay leaves, salt and black peppercorns.  Bring vinegar mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.  Add garlic, Serrano peppers, carrots and cauliflower.  Cook for an additional 3 – 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Be sure to let the vegetables sit in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before serving.  The longer it sits in the refrigerator, the spicier it gets.  This makes a pretty good sized batch, so feel free to cut the recipe in half.  Makes about a quart and a half of spicy pickled vegetables.

Radish Sesame Salad

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Radish Sesame Salad

Every year, early in the spring I plant radishes from seed in my little garden.   Since my garden is so small, I tuck the radishes rows between some of the slower growing vegetables such as broccoli or cabbage in order to utilize precious garden space.  Radishes are amazingly fast and easy to grow.  All they need is water and warm spring days.  Within 3 weeks after sowing the seeds, I am able to harvest crunchy little radishes for salads and snacks.

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Thin sliced crunchy red radishes…

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My Radish and Sesame Seed Salad is one of my favorite ways to prepare fresh picked radishes from my garden.  It’s vibrant in color and has wonderful Asian inspired flavors.  Next time you plant a garden, try sowing a few radish seeds.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients

  • 3 cups thinly sliced red radishes
  • 2 Tbs Mirin (sweet cooking wine)
  • 2 Tbs sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • fresh cilantro, green onion or chives for garnish

Thinly slice the radishes with a mandolin or sharp knife.  Set aside.  In a medium sized bowl whisk together the Mirin, sesame oil, rice vinegar, black sesame seeds, ginger, garlic and salt.  Add radishes and toss.  Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for about 45 minutes.  Garnish with fresh cilantro, green onions or chives.  Makes 4 servings.

Spring Green Salad with Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

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Spring Green Salad with Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

I’m so excited!  Spring has finally arrived in Southern Oregon!  According to the calendar, “technically” it’s still winter.  According to what is happening in my backyard, the calendar is way wrong :)…

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A crocus blossom… One of the first flowers to make an appearance in our backyard early in the season.  I love the bright orange stamens and the purple and white streaked petals.  I have them planted in many places in our yard.  Some reside in pots, some are tucked under bushes and trees.  Crocuses grow only a few inches tall and come back every year during the month of March.

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This is a shot of some pansies that I have planted in a hanging pot on my back patio.  Pansies are a regular staple to our yard in the spring and fall.  Every time I look at them they make me smile.  I enjoy the bright and cheerful colors outside my kitchen window.

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A close-up shot of a pansy blossom.  I was thrilled to capture this image with my camera.  Through the lens of my camera, I was able to see this amazing amount of detail on the flower.  I can’t see this level of detail even with my reading glasses on.

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A tulip poking its way through the soil.  I look forward to a big vase full of bright red blossoms on our dining room table in a short couple of weeks.

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Purple crocus.  What’s not to like about that deep rich indigo color?

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Even the koi fish in our pond are starting to surface for the first handfuls of feed of the year.  This is Pumpkin…  He’s one of the original fish to live in our pond.  He’s almost 2 feet long and about 10 years old.  I remember the day when Bruce and I purchased him.  He was about 4 inches in length and shared a plastic bag with four other fish on the trip home. Several years later, we now have a total of 8 koi fish happily living in our pond.

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Whenever I think of spring, one of the first things that come to mind is fresh picked strawberries.  I purchased a couple of pints of strawberries the other day and one of the things that I wanted to do with them was to make a spring like strawberry vinaigrette.  My Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette is a wonderfully pink colored salad dressing made with fresh strawberries, red wine vinegar, local honey, Dijon Mustard, canola oil and poppy seeds.  It’s a delicious vinaigrette to serve drizzled over a plate of fresh picked greens and sliced strawberries.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound strawberries (cleaned and hulled)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs honey or to taste
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds or to taste

Add strawberries, red wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and canola oil to a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Splash more vinegar into the dressing if you want… Mix in the poppy seeds.  Makes 1 cup or 16 – 1 Tablespoon servings.  Store in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 days.

Green Salad (per serving)

  • 2 cups fresh lettuce
  • 1 thinly sliced radish
  • 2 strawberries (hulled and quartered)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced radicchio
  • 1 Tbs Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (or to taste)

Assemble by placing salad greens on a plate.  Arrange radishes, strawberries and radicchio on top of the greens.  Drizzle greens with the Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette.  Makes one serving.

Sesame Seed Beer Bread

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Sesame Seed Beer Bread

Beer Breads are some of my favorite loaves of bread to bake.  They’re easy, require few ingredients and taste delicious.  For years I have made the same Whole Wheat Beer Bread and it has always been my “go to” recipe.  ”Go to” until now…  My favorite Whole Wheat Beer Bread recipe now has to share the spotlight.  I have a new recipe that is equally delicious but with a different spin.  I call it Sesame Seed Beer Bread.  It’s made with all purpose white flour, Oregon brewed beer, and black and white sesame seeds.

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My Sesame Seed Beer Bread has a pretty black sesame seed speckled center with a lovely mixed sesame seed top crust.

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It slices nicely and goes great with leafy green salads and piping hot bowls of soup.  I had a couple of slices toasted this morning for breakfast.  It’s easy to make and tastes fabulous!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 6 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 12 oz beer
  • 1/2 Tbs black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 Tbs white sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix together flour, sugar, 1 Tbs black sesame seeds, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium sized bowl.  Add beer and mix until lumps are gone.  Don’t over mix.  Add mixture to greased 9 x 5 inch baking pan.  Sprinkle top with 1/2 Tbs black and 1/2 Tbs white sesame seeds.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done.  Makes one fabulous loaf!

Broccoli Bisque

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I have not posted any recipes for the past couple of weeks… It’s not that I did not want to or that I was being lazy.  Most of my free time after work has been spent trying to figure out why my website was not cooperating with me.  Most of the time food blogging is an enjoyable and rewarding hobby but it can be extremely frustrating at times.  Maintaining a food/recipe website is a combination of being a food writer, photographer and webmaster.  I am comfortable with the first two items, but the web master part, I’m still learning (struggling). And, in my opinion, I have a long way to go…

My website problem was this…  Every time I tried to post my Broccoli Bisque recipe, the body of the post would not stay formatted properly. I tried everything. I uninstalled and re-installed different components on my website.  I tried even changing the look of my website.  My frustration level with my computer was at all time high.  I was seriously irritated and I was questioning why I even want to be a food blogger in the first place.  In other words, my website was seriously “jacked up”.

Then late last night it dawned on me…  I thought to myself that maybe I’m having software conflicts with web browsers.  I’ve seen that before with software applications at work.  I have certain applications that I work with that don’t run very well in Internet Explorer and perfectly in Firefox.  And vice versa.  Since I only have Firefox on my laptop, I thought I’d download a free copy of Google Chrome.  I installed it and then I tried working on my website while on Google Chrome.  Unbelievable!  Problem solved!  I learned something big.  Next time I am having problems with my website I’m going to check if it is an issue  with a web browser before spending the time dismantling my entire website.

Well, I’m back.  I look forward to being back on schedule and creating some dishes to share.  Meanwhile, be sure to try my easy vegan Broccoli Bisque.  It’s simple to make, good for you and most importantly, it tastes delicious!  Enjoy!  Tessa

 Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound broccoli florets
  • 1 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 2 cups russet potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • salt to taste.

In a large saucepan on medium heat, add broccoli, onions, canola oil and a big pinch of salt.  Cook, stirring constantly until broccoli is crisp tender or onions are translucent.  Add potatoes, vegetable stock, coriander, and white pepper.  Cook covered until potatoes and broccoli are tender.  Grab an immersion blender and blend until creamy.  Add more stock if necessary.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley or chopped onion.  Serves 4.

Orange Pomegranate Salad

Orange Pomegranate Salad

The holidays are fast approaching and I am already planning our meal for Christmas Eve.  It’s a family tradition that every year on Christmas Eve I make a huge pot of New England Clam Chowder to share with my family and friends.  With the chowder, I serve up finger foods, fresh baked breads, salad and dessert.  Since the chowder is the only item on the menu that does not change from year to year, I try to think of different and fresh tasting dishes to serve with the soup.

While I am thinking about what I am going to serve with the chowder, our family is busy decorating our home for the holidays.  Bruce’s responsibility is to put up the lights out in the front of the home, and my job is to decorate the dining room and living room.  I love doing that.  It’s one of my favorite things to do.

This is what my dining room looked during the last Christmas season.  Last year, I focused on red and green colors.  This year my plan is to decorate with white and silver.  I want my dining room to have a shiny cold sparkle to it.  The table will be removed and 2 eight foot tables will take its place on Christmas Eve.  That’s what I do every time we have a large gathering in our home.  What I have in mind this year is crisp white table cloths, white candlesticks with snow covered greenery.  The three little trees that you see above are now covered with little white birds, silver ornaments and shimmery snowflakes.

One of my white birds.  I snagged about a dozen of these at a craft store last week for about a dollar each.  I would have bought more but I cleaned out the bin…

Silver pine cone ornament.  My Mom gave these pine cone ornaments to me earlier this year.  These pretty ornaments are on the same trees as the white birds.  Can you believe that this ornament is made of plastic?  Could have fooled me…  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not ashamed of decorating with plastic ornaments.  I like plastic ornaments because they are pet and child friendly, they don’t shatter and when they fall off the tree, all they do is bounce!  And what’s even better about plastic ornaments…  They’re inexpensive.

I just love the holidays!  In my opinion, it’s not about the gifts or the food.  It’s all about spending quality time with family and friends.  I want everyone who visits our home to have a wonderful time and have fond memories of our time together.

I have made the decision to serve my Orange Pomegranate Salad on Christmas Eve.  It’s light, plates beautifully and won’t leave my guests stuffed once I start ladling up steaming hot bowls of chowder.  My Orange Pomegranate Salad is made with fresh naval oranges, pomegranate seeds, watercress, radish shoots, crunchy pepitas and a tangy pomegranate vinaigrette.  It’s easy, bright and delicious! Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 6 large naval oranges, peeled and sliced.
  • 3 cups water cress (use more if you like)
  • 3 cups radish shoots (use more if you like)
  • 6 Tbs toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 6 Tbs fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/8 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/8 cup pomegranate vinegar
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Begin by cutting off the peel from the oranges.  Slice each orange into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Arrange on six salad plates with water cress, radish shoots, pomegranate seeds, and pepitas.  Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the canola oil, rice vinegar, pomegranate vinegar, brown sugar, ginger and salt.  Drizzle the vinaigrette on the salads when ready to serve.  Serves 6.

Creamy Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masala

Creamy Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masala

Bruce was out of town for the past few days.  I hate to say this out loud but…  When he is away from home, I get to make what I want to have for dinner without any negotiating or meeting in the middle.  Today, I was in the mood for a Creamy Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masala.  Garam Masala is an exotic spice blend that is of North Indian origin.  It has ingredients such as cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, cardamom and coriander.   It’s one amazingly fragrant and versatile spice blend.

My Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masala is vegan, easy, and most of all, delicious!  And as for Bruce, I love him so much that I made sure that I saved him a big healthy bowl of Creamy Red Lentil Soup to eat when he gets back :).  Enjoy!  Tessa

 Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup split red lentils (picked over and rinsed well)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (more if needed)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (diced)
  • 1/2 cup onion (diced)
  • 1/2 cup celery (diced)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (diced)
  • 3 ounces tomato paste (half of a small can)
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala spice (or to taste)
  • seasoning salt to taste
  • garnish with thinly shredded carrots and chopped parsley

Begin by picking over and rinsing red lentils.  Toss lentils and remaining ingredients except for the seasoning salt or garnishes into a pot with a tight fitting lid.  Cook on low, stirring occasionally for about 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are tender.  Taste the soup and add your seasoning salt to taste.  Using an immersion blender, blend soup until creamy.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with thinly shredded carrots and chopped parsley.  Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Note:  You can find garam masala at most major grocery stores or online.