Tag Archives: dinner

Risotto and Grilled Veggies

Our host for the Veggie dinner in September was Jennifer, and she treated us to a delicious dinner! The main dish, risotto, is tricky to make, but when its made right it’s really yummy! 🙂 What you’ll need:

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1 onion
  • 1 1/2 cups risotto (arborio)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 bunch parsley
You can use veggie broth or plain water, but veggie broth adds more flavor.

The important part about cooking risotto is the way you cook it. You place the risotto in the pan and pour the liquid over it until it’s just covered. As the water is absorbed into the risotto you continue to add liquid a little at a time until the risotto is fully cooked. Unlike rice, risotto can and should be stirred throughout the process.
For this recipe, cook the onions and fennel until softened but not browned. Then add the onions and the fennel to the pot with the risotto. Add the parsley, then cook the risotto. Once the risotto is cooked add the butter and the cheese. Serve with delicious grilled veggies!

The grilled veggies that our hostess served were:

  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
Veggies should be seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Grill on low heat over an open fire and voila! Delicious grilled vegetables.

In addition to the grilled veggies, Jennifer served mozzarella skewers:
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Buffalo mozzarella
  • Basil

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella drizzle with olive oil and toss in chopped basil. Spear the tomatoes and mozzarella on skewers, ready to serve!

Finally, any veggie dinner would not be complete without a dessert to top it all off, but so sorry, you can’t have the recipe…it’s a secret. Jennifer says any time you want this fantastic apple pie, she’ll be happy to make it for you! That’s it for the September veggie dinner (from 2011). Working through the backlog, so still to come: October, November AND December. Until then, as always: happy eating!!


Pesto Pasta (say that 3 times fast) and Grilled Portabellos

A day late, and a dollar short; more like a late blog but a tasty meal! In August we were treated to a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious vegetarian meal hosted by Chris and Jean. What was on the menu? Portabello mushroom filled with goat cheese or grilled spicy pepper cream cheese and topped with asparagus and balsamic reduction, bow tie pasta with pesto cream sauce, bruschetta and fresh fruit! This meal will take ~45 minutes to prepare, provided that you have helpers. Now that your mouth is watering, let’s get down to brass tacks and teach you how to make this delicious vegetable goodness.


  • 1-2 loves of French bread
  • 6 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 jar of kalamata olives
  • I jar artichoke hearts
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Chop the tomatoes and in a large bowl combine with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper (to taste), toss. Slice the onions and saute in olive oil for ~5 minutes or until soft. Drain olives and artichoke hearts and put in separate bowls for consumption. Slice and toast the French bread loaves in the oven at ~400 degrees for 5 minutes (checking to ensure you do not over-toast). Place the desired amount of each topping on a slice of toast and enjoy!

Portabello Mushrooms & Asparagus

  • Whole portabello mushrooms (1-2 for each person you are planning to feed)
  • 1 bushel of asparagus (2-3 stalks will top each mushroom, plan accordingly)
  • 1 package of goat’s cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • garlic (as much or as little as you like — 3 cloves is good)

Create your sauce: combine salt, pepper, olive oil balsamic vinegar, and whatever spices you like (season to *your* taste). Place the mushrooms top down on a baking sheet and drizzle the sauce over each mushroom adding some minced garlic. Bake uncovered for ~15-20 minutes, then add goat cheese (or not) and allow to melt.

Steam the asparagus until it was just starting to get soft, then toss it in salt and pepper before finishing it up on the grill (or in the oven on a baking sheet for ~5 minutes if you have no grill) to get a nice crisp finish.

Pesto Pasta

  • Basil (we don’t know how much — we like a LOT)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Garlic (~3-4 cloves)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Lemon (to taste)
  • Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, don’t cheat yourself with the canned stuff)
  • A bag of your favorite bow tie pasta (you thought we were fancy, you thought we would make it from scratch…but, no.)

Start with about 3 cloves of garlic, combined with the basil and the pine nuts and chop in a food processor, add oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. The consistency of the pesto will depend on what you’re going to use it for; more oil if it’s going on pasta, less if it’s for dipping or topping sandwiches. Add salt, red pepper flakes, and lemon to taste (put a little in, blend and see if you like it, then keep adding). We usually end up adding a couple more cloves of garlic but that’s because we like garlic a LOT. We also use really coarse salt, it helps with the texture/flavor. If you don’t have a salt grinder you can use kosher.

Boil your pasta rinse with cool water and drain. Combine the pesto and pasta in a large pot and stir until the pesto is distributed evenly. Top with grated Parmesan.

Choose your favorite summer fruit for dessert (suggestions: sliced mango, watermelon, berries, pineapple, or whatever tickles your fancy), slice, and serve!

Healthy eating does not have to be boring, or tasteless! Get out there and experiment, your taste buds (and your belly) will thank you! Our September veggie dinner was hosted by Jennifer and mmmm it was really good. I’m sure I won’t post that blog for another month, but, that gives you time to perfect this recipe, happy eating!

Thai Food! (No Fish Sauce)

Better late than never! Yes, this post is l-a-t-e, late, but that does not diminish the veggie deliciousness that comes to you in this post. Thai food is a vegetarian favorite, but what many veggies DON’T know is that the flavorful Thai dishes are made using Fish Sauce, which is fermented fish. For June’s Veggie Dinner, our host, Sheldon, treated us to Thai minus the Fish Sauce! His challenge was to recreate the flavor of the dead fermented fish that makes Thai food so tasty, his secret: Mushrooms and Soy Sauce!


Papaya Salad

  • 1 Green (unripe) Papaya
  • 1/2 Cup Roasted Peanuts
  • 1 cup Chopped Cilantro
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Green Onions
  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes (halved)
  • Soy Sauce (season to taste)
  • Palm Sugar (season to taste)
  • 1 cup Fresh Green Beans, halved
  • 2 Carrots (Grated)
  • Mint (optional)

Combine in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

Curry Paste

  • 1 tbsp Ginger (Grated)
  • 4 Stalks of Lemon Grass (only the whites — the bottom portion)
  • 2 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 2 tsp Cumin Seeds (Toasted)
  • 12 Green Chiles
  • 1 2 Inch piece of Galangal (Grated)
  • 10 Garlic Cloves
  • 6 Shallots
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Turmeric (Grated)
  • 1 small bunch of Cilantro
  • 2 limes, juiced

Grind the paste ingredients either in a food processor or using a mortar and pestle.


  • Coconut Milk
  • Curry Paste
  • Japanese Eggplant
  • Oyster Mushrooms
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Thai Basil
  • 2 Zucchinis
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Soy Sauce

In a large pot, heat vegetable oil and add curry paste. Fry until the aroma of the paste fills your kitchen and causes you to salivate!!! Add the coconut milk and stir until the broth is homogenized. Add the eggplant and simmer for a few minutes, add the remainder of the chopped vegetables and simmer for a few minutes (until the vegetables are tender). Taste and salt to your liking with Soy Sauce. Once your curry is seasoned to your taste, add the Thai Basil and allow it to wilt, then, you are done!


Most Thai restaurants will typically serve white rice with their dishes. Our host opted for a much heartier and more savory rice. To prepare, add 1 part rice to 2 parts water. Bring the water to boil and then reduce to a simmer for ~40 minutes.


After a great (healthy) dinner, what better way to top it off than with a tasty dessert!

  • 1 large Pineapple
  • Agave Nectar
  • Your favorite ice cream (optional)

Slice the pineapple into spears and grill. Add a scoop (or two!) of your favorite ice cream and enjoy!

This dinner requires a lot of prep work and multi-tasking. It is to your advantage to have a helper (or 2) to assist with chopping, grinding, and shredding. Timing the preparation of your dishes to ensure that they complete at the same time will be a little tricky. A few suggestions:

  • Prepare the curry paste the day prior
  • Start your rice while chopping up the vegetables for the curry and salad

Until next time: Healthy eating is happy eating!

Cinco de Mayo

This month in honor of Cinco de Mayo, we did the veggie dinner Mexican style! Our host for this month’s dinner, yours truly, Eshé. I am a west coast girl so Mexican food is one of my favorites! The great thing about this dinner is that (with the exception of dessert), it’s vegan! What was on the menu? Glad you asked.

The Menu

  • Appetizer – Chips and Guacamole
  • Main Course – Veggie Tacos
  • Drink – Virgin Margaritas
  • Dessert – Cake and Ice Cream (okay so we deviated from the theme…)

Virgin Margaritas

  • Limeade
  • Orange Juice
  • 4 large grape fruits

Juice the grapefruits and combine with limeade and OJ to taste (Jennifer our fabulous bartender did an amazing job!)


Chips — Purchase your favorite tortilla chips from your local grocery store, I am partial to Red Hot Blues which are the best. chips. EVER!


  • 5 ripe avocados
  • 1/3 purple onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 ear of fresh sweet corn, remove from the cob
  • 2 handfuls of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup black olives, chopped
  • Garlic powder
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Pepper

Skin the avocados and remove the seeds. Combine the avocados and lime juice in a large bowl and mash (a potato masher will do the job) until you have reached the desired texture (I prefer a little chunky). Add onions, bell pepper, olives, corn, and cilantro and mix. Add salt, garlic powder, and pepper to taste.

Main Course

Spices you will need:

  • Sea salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Ground cayenne pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Honey
  • Bragg (a must have for every veggie kitchen!)
  • Olive oil

Calabacitas (sort of — used as a taco filler)

  • 2 Jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 3 habanero peppers, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pkg firm tofu, cubed and drained
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 yellow squash, chopped

Add olive oil (~2 tbsp) in a pan and add tofu. Stir in Bragg, cayenne pepper and cumin to taste, allow to simmer on medium heat for ~10 minutes. Add garlic, onions, peppers, and bell pepper, stir and allow to cook for ~5 minutes. Add zucchini and squash drizzle on about 1/2 tbsp of honey, add additional seasoning to taste, continually stir and allow to cook for ~10 minutes or until squash and zucchini are tender, cover and remove from heat.

Black Beans (used as a taco filling)
A crockpot will be your best friend to make your black beans. Combine 1 lb of black beans (rinsed and sorted) with about 3 times as much water (I eyeball these things, apologies), and add salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper to taste. Set your crockpot to cook on high for 6 hours.

Cilantro Lime Rice (also for taco filling)

  • 1 bag of long-grain brown rice
  • 2 handfuls of cilantro
  • 2 limes, juiced

A rice cooker is also a must-have! Combine the bag of rice with the appropriate amount of water (typically 1 part water to 2 parts rice). This will cook for approximately 40 minutes. When the rice is ready, stir in sea salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste!

Tortilla shells

  • 2 pkgs blue corn tortillas (purchased from Trader Joe’s)

In a pan on medium heat, add olive oil and fry the taco shell on each side, folding in half once it is soft enough to do so (otherwise it will break). When the taco shell is slightly crispy, remove from heat and shake excess oil. Place in a paper towel-lined pan to allow remaining oil to absorb. Repeat for as many taco shells as you need (we did 2 per person…well, Sheldon only got 1 taco…sorry Sheldon!)


  • 5 tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 lb sliced spinach
  • Pico de gallo (you can make it fresh…we bought it from Whole Foods)

Build your tacos:

In your taco shell, combine beans, rice, calabacitas, tomatoes, spinach, guacamole, and pico de gallo IN THAT ORDER (small joke), and enjoy! Be prepared to get messy…

For dessert, we were treated to a very tasty whole wheat vanilla cake from Whole Foods and Banana split ice cream, topped with fresh bananas!

This dinner was truly an exercise in collective cooking. There was so much chopping that needed doing, we used ALL of my cutting boards! It felt like Iron Chef in that kitchen 🙂 Team work made the dream work, and what a tasty dream it was. Join us next month as we travel to the home of our next host…Sheldon!

Indian Delight!

It’s time for yet another veggie dinner, and we dined North Indian style courtesy of our distinguished chef, Archana! Why the distinction of North Indian (instead of just Indian), well, the cuisine of Northern and Southern India differs greatly in style and preparation. All I know is this: it’s all good eatin!!

The Menu

  • Roti
  • Subzi/Curry
  • Lime Rice
  • Drink – Organic, fresh squeezed apple juice from Whole Foods, yum!
  • Dessert – Mango sticky rice (prepared by Russel)
  • Chips – Kettle Cooked Salt & Pepper Chips (purchased by Avory)
  • Kachori – Purchased from little India. (thanks for the last minute pick up Sheldon!)
Lime rice:
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 whole Red Chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Mustard seeds
  • 6-8 Curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Channa daal
  • 1 teaspoon Udad Daal
  • 3/4th teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon dry roasted Peanuts
  • Juice of 1 Lime ( not lemon)
  • Salt to Taste
  • A pinch of Asafoetida
Cook the rice (depending on what type of rice you choose, this may vary — we’re assuming you know what to do!) and allow it to cool. Tip: It is also a great way to use leftover rice.
Heat oil in a pot. Add asafoetida, black mustard seeds, curry leaves, chana daal, urad daal, and red chilies. Once the black mustard seeds start to sputter and the daals are slightly light brown add the peanuts, salt, and turmeric powder. Finally, add boiled rice, lemon juice, and mix it well. Serve at room temperature.
Aloo Matar:
  • 3 Potatoes
  • 1/2 cup Peas
  • 1/2 cup Curd
  • Salt To Taste
  • 3 Green chillies
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 Tomatoes, chopped finely
  • 1 inch Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1 tsp Red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garam masala
  • Salt To Taste
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 Turmeric powder
  • Handful Pinch Coriander leaves
  • Some garlic
Boil the potatoes and peas. Cut half the potatoes into big pieces and mash the other half. Grind onions, chillies, garlic, ginger with little water to a fine paste. Heat oil, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fry till they pop up. Add the ground paste and fry until it is done. Add tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala and mix well. Add the boiled potatoes, peas, one cup of water. Cover and cook for a few minutes. Add the beaten curd and cook on slow flame until a thick gravy is formed. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with parathas.



  • 1 1/2 cups sticky or sweet rice
  • 14 oz can of coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 mango

Add rice and 3 cups of water to rice/pressure cooker. While rice is cooking, in a pot, mix the coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla. Heat over medium heat and slowly heat the mixture to thicken the sauce. Stir often. Put rice in a bowl and add 1/2 to 2/3 of the coconut milk mixture over top of the rice and mix in with the rice. Let the rice cool down for an hour. Refrigerate up to 24 hours. Do the same for the remaining coconut mixture. Cut up mango in slices. To Serve: Scoop rice into a bowl, pour some of the coconut mixture over top of the rice (to desired sweetness) add mango slices.

As usual, there were many compliments for the chef and fabulous conversation! We learned a great deal about the town of Hershey, PA from our Hershey School alumnus, Chris. Ram, a Cricket aficionado, suggested we see Fire in Babylon, a movie about the legendary West Indies Cricket Team. I had NEVER heard of them before, what a treat! I can’t wait to watch this movie. Aside from the food, the Veggie Dinners brings a diversity of thought that is refreshing, entertaining, and educational! Next month, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I will be preparing one of my favorite styles of food: Mexican!! I grew up in Nuevo Mexico, so I am excited to share this with my veggies. Until next time, happy eating!

Russel’s Favorites

This month we feast on a collection we like to call: “Russel’s Favorites.” Russel has been a vegetarian for almost a decade and he shares with us tonight his favorite dishes; Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Spinach Spheres, and Black Bean Soup/Stew. Dessert comes to us by the lovely Chris who bought Tiramisu from Fresh & Easy (hey we can’t cook EVERYTHING) and Peanut Butter Bread with Carob chips prepared from scratch by our host, Russel. Avory prepared the appetizer: Cheese Torta.

What will you need to recreate this delectable menu?


Cheese Torta

  • 1 jar of Sun dried tomatoes
  • 6 oz of Pesto
  • 6 oz of goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup of softened butter
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 12 oz of softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup of Parmesan cheese

Mix all of the cheese and sour cream (“whatever’s white” says Avory) with the butter. Saranwrap a round or square mold and spray with olive oil, layer sun-dried tomatoes on the bottom followed by the cheese mix, add a layer of pesto, and finally another layer of cheese mix. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. Serve with your baguette of choice.

Black Bean Soup (From “Quick & Healthy: Volume II“)

  • 3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or bullion cubes)
  • 2 cups of dried black beans (best to cook these the night before) — 45 minutes in a pressure cooker — fancy Russel!
  • 1/2 cup salsa, thick and chunky (we like whole foods 365 medium organic salsa)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Spinach Spheres (From: “Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen“)

  • 1 bushel of fresh spinach
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs or prepared crumb-style stuffing mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Dash salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 2 Beefsteak tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

Steam the spinach until soft and drain. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the scallions. Cut off the root tips and top 2 inches of the green ends and discard them. Cut the remaining white and green parts into 1/4 inch pieces. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Add both to the bowl containing the spinach.

Melt the butter or margarine in a small saucepan and add it to the bowl. Add the bread crumbs or stuffing mix, eggs, Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Mix thoroughly

Wash tomatoes, and slice. They should look like little coasters. Lightly grease a baking sheet or large baking dish with the oil and place the tomato slices on the sheet.

Divide the spinach mixture into 8 equal portions and shape each into a 2-inch ball (pretend you’re making snowballs). Put each ball into the center of a tomato slice. Bake for 20 minutes or until balls no longer look wet and are beginning to brown slightly. Serve immediately.

The number of contraptions used to make this meal was astounding! A pressure cooker, garlic mincer, food processor, “this double-tiered pot” also known as a steamer, a mixer…it’s cooking for engineers.

Dinner Reactions

“This Black Bean soup is phenomenal! It’s hearty, Beans beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat, ahhhhhh. I have to do the Kobayashi wiggle” — Chris

“Oh…I’m full. The spinach ball was just amazing! I feel like I was eating at a 5-star restaurant. It was delicious to look at and delicious to eat!” –Avory

“Simply superb. What else can I say? Russel’s cooking is as adventurous as he is! You experimented and it paid off, it’s really good” –Archana

“Everything is quite satisfying..mmmm, mmm, mmm” –Sheldon

Join us next month as we continue our adventures in eating with our host, Archana who will prepare North Indian food, YUM!

Tortilla Soup

Today’s Veggie Dinner was hosted by Romero, Avory, and Dyan at casa de Thomas in Scottsdale! This is our first Vegetarian dinner of the new year and we are all excited for a cold-weather standard, Tortilla Soup! Served with romaine and spinach salad with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.


  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Ground cumin to taste
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 4oz cans of chopped green chile
  • 5 14oz cans (or 4 cartons) of vegetable broth
  • 1 11oz can of whole kernel corn
  • 2 avocados
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • Tortilla strips
  • onions (if desired)
  • Brown rice
  • Lime juice

Brown rice takes ~30-40 minutes to prepare, so it should be started prior to cooking anything else. Prep work of chopping vegetables can be done while rice is cooking. Chop the cilantro, garlic, and onions.

Add cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt (to taste) to the vegetable broth and add crushed tomatoes, green chile, and corn. Season to taste. To garnish the soup, add the cilantro, cheese, and avocados, voila!

Remember, healthy eating is happy eating!