Roasted Beet & Nectarine Salad {Cookbook Chat: Silk Road Vegetarian}

silk-road-vegetarian-9780804843379_lgCreative Cooking Gluten Free is now six years old! I can’t even believe it!! Over these last six years I have had the pleasure of sharing with all of you my creations, adaptations, giveaways, product and cookbook reviews. Thank you for allowing me to share with love of food with all of you. During this time it has been a privilege to work with so many great companies, organizations, and cookbook authors. Last year I was invited to join an online group called 37Cooks, you have heard me mention them a time or two on here for various cooking challenges I have participated in. However, recently a new type of challenge has been offered up to the 37Cooks called “Cookbook Chat”, where there are a limited number of certain cookbooks available to the bloggers and it is a first come first serve basis. The blogger receives a copy of the book and is asked to pick a recipe or two (depending on the challenge), then recreates the recipe, putting their own twist on it, and reviews it. The first cookbook offered up was one called “Silk Road Vegetarian: Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-free Recipes for the Mindful Cook” by Dahlia Abraham-Klein. Of course I signed was gluten-free! Lately I have been eating quite a bit of plant-based dishes so this book seemed right up my alley.

The book is beautiful and filled with recipes from Central Asia, covering from China to India. It includes bases & condiments, appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes, side dishes, rice dishes, and desserts. In addition Abraham-Klein also includes a spice pantry section and information regarding basic preparation. As I flipped through this book I quickly realized it was going to be very difficult to pick one recipe to make. I finally decided on two recipes, a salad and a dessert. The salad I adapted per the 37Cooks Challenge and the dessert I followed the recipe exactly. I decided on two because I was having dinner with some dear friends and wanted to bring something to share. I chose the Roasted Beet and Nectarine Salad, which is perfect for the summer. Both the beets and nectarines are available this time of year, and it required few ingredients. Then I decided to make the Peach Cobbler, one because peaches are in season and readily available at a good price, and I had never had a peach cobbler before. Actually I don’t really eat peaches because I can’t get past the fuzz on the outside…I always opt for nectarines instead. Again, like the roasted beet and nectarine salad, this recipe also called for few ingredients. I sadly didn’t take a picture of it because we pretty much just dove right in and served it with some vanilla bean ice cream…needless to say this dessert was a HUGE hit. It asked for very little sugar, but it has the perfect sweetness with the fresh peaches. I will make this again for sure. Now on to the salad…get ready its beautiful and delicious!

I’m a huge believe in the “you eat with your eyes first” theory…its true. My photo did not quite capture the beauty of this salad as I had hoped that it would but I promise you if you were to serve this to guests, it will be a conversation piece. We talked about this salad quite a bit last night for several reasons, one none of us thought to ever put nectarines and beets together, and two its just stunning to look at – it is so vibrant and equally delicious. I followed the recipe quite closely but changed a thing or two up from her cooking methods and then added a few toppings myself. Below is my adaptation of DahliaAbraham-Klein’s beautiful salad.

37-Cooks-Roasted-Beet-Nectarine-Salad-Silk-Road-Jenny-Manseau-337-Cooks-Roasted-Beet-Nectarine-Salad-Silk-Road-Jenny-Manseau_1(Roasted Beet and Nectarine Salad – to serve top with toasted pine nuts and crumbled feta cheese)

Roasted Beet and Nectarine Salad

Adapted from: Silk Road Vegetarian {Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten Free Recipes for the Mindful Cook} by Dahlia Abraham-Klein page 99


  • Beets               2 Bunches with the greens attached (about 4-6 beets, depending on their size), Red, Gold, or a mixture of them
  • Nectarines     4, peeled, pitted and then sliced thin (about 1/8-1/4 inch)
  • Red Onion     1/4 cup, finely diced
  • Olive Oil         1 Tablespoon
  • Garlic              2 cloves, minced or grated
  • Pine Nuts       1/4 cup toasted
  • Nutmeg          1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt                  To taste, kosher
  • Pepper            To taste, black – freshly ground
  • Feta Cheese  1/4 cup, crumbled


  • Oil                   3 Tablespoons. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil or other neutral flavored oil
  • Garlic             2 cloves grated
  • Lime              1 Juice and zest
  • Sugar            3/4 Tablespoon Organic, Unrefined
  • Salt                1/2 teaspoon, kosher
  • Pepper         1/4 teaspoon, black – freshly ground

Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Rinse beets and beet greens very well to remove any dirt (you may need to do this several times, especially for the greens).
  3. Cut the beet greens from the stems and rinse in a colander, let drain
  4. Cut the stems from the beets and discard the stems.
  5. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and place directly onto the oven rack.
  6. Roast for 1 hour, remove from oven and let cool
  7. Peel, pit and slice nectarines, place in a medium bowl and set aside.
  8. Peel and dice onion, place into bowl with nectarine slices and toss, set aside.
  9. While the beets are cooling, chiffonade the beet greens by placing them neatly on top of each other, then rolling them up tightly (into a cigar shape), next using a sharp knife cut across the “cigar” into 1/4 inch slices (you can go larger or smaller, depending on your preference)
  10. In a medium sauteé pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and sauteé garlic for 30 seconds before adding the beet greens – these will cook down similar to spinach. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  11. Once the beet greens have wilted, let them cool. Once cooled toss them into the bowl with the nectarine slices and red onion, toss to combine.
  12. When the beets have cooled, unwrap them one at a time, and peel the outer layer from the beet (I recommend wearing some plastic gloves!) and discard the foil and outer layer of the beets.
  13. Slice each beet in half, and then into 8 slices.
  14. Toss the beets in to the bowl with the nectarines, red onions, and beet greens.
  15. Next, prepare the dressing: simply add all ingredients in the order listed above to a small bowl and whisk until evenly combined.
  16. Pour dressing over the salad and toss to evenly coat.
  17. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  18. Prior to serving, in a small sauteé pan add the pine nuts, and nutmeg, and toast over medium heat until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  19. To serve, place salad into a serving bowl, top with toasted pine nuts and crumbled feta cheese.
  20. Enjoy!

Last night we served this alongside some baked salmon that had delicious herbs on it, brown rice with crumbled dulse, and of course the delicious peach cobbler for dessert. A light and delicious meal perfect for the summer time.


The cookbook was provided to me from the publisher for this review. All comments and opinions are 100% my own.


Savory Rolls {Dorot & 37 Cooks}

IMG_9625Have you heard of Dorot before? I’ve been using them for years. They are awesome little cubes of tasty goodness. So easy to use and perfect for a quick meal loaded with flavor. We over at 37 Cooks had the privilege of them being our latest sponsor. They sent us each a few coupons to pick up a variety of their products to work with and create a recipe. As with all sponsored posts and reviews these opinions are 100% my own.

I was able to find their items at a few stores around me, especially the one that I work at! Talk about convenience – so I picked up their Chili, Garlic, and Ginger cubes. In the recipe below however I ended up just using the chili and the garlic – the garlic actually was put to use in both recipes: Savory Rolls and Feta Spread. Visit their website to see all of their great options including rice mixes and sauces (I have not tried either of these and not 100% sure if they are all gluten-free) and also where to find these great products. These are perfect for saving time in the kitchen chopping garlic and herbs.

Below is my recipe for savory rolls (think cinnamon rolls, but not) with a feta spread. These are great and very versatile – please feel free to change the filling ingredients to whatever your taste buds prefer. You can roll them thinner and make mini ones as well – they work perfectly for an appetizer. The recipe below is gluten-free and vegetarian but again, feel free to change it up…add some cooked ground hot sausage or some crispy pancetta.

Savory Rolls & Feta Spread

Simple, versatile, rustic, and delicious.


  • 2 tablespoons butter (add more if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (add more if needed)
  • 1 medium yellow onion cut in half and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 3 cubes of Dorot Crushed Garlic
  • 3 cubes of Dorot Crushed Chili
  • 1/2 cup packed baby spinach
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


  • 3 tablespoons butter – melted
  • 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend of your choice (I used Cup4Cup) – **if there is no xanthan gum in your mix add 1 tablespoon.
  • 1 tablespoon of instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup milk  (I used SoDelicious Coconut Milk)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil – divided
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt – optional
  • Red pepper flakes – optional

Method of Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F


  1. If using, grate Parmesan cheese and set aside.
  2. In a large French pan add two tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil with the sliced onions and heat over medium heat.
  3. Do not stir until the bottom layer begins to brown.
  4. When the bottom begins to brown gently stir the onions around. Continue to stir occasionally.
  5. Once onions are evenly golden brown add in sliced mushrooms.
  6. Add more butter or olive oil if needed.
  7. Cook mushrooms and onions for five minutes.
  8. Add in the Dorot Garlic and Chili cubes, stir until well combined.
  9. Stir in chopped olives and the spinach.
  10. Stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the spinach has completed wilted and everything has come together.
  11. Check for seasoning and adjust if needed.
  12. Set aside and prepare the dough.


  1. In a stand mixer add the gluten-free flour, yeast, and salt.
  2. Mix on low until combined.
  3. In a glass measuring cup measure out the milk and add in the melted (slightly cooled) butter, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and large egg.
  4. Mix until well combined.
  5. Slowly add to the dry ingredients in the stand mixer.
  6. Mix on medium-low for 2 minutes until well combined.
  7. Dough will be a little sticky – that is okay.
  8. Line a large surface with plastic wrap and dust lightly with a little extra flour.
  9. Gently shape dough into a rectangle and roll until your dough is about 6″x14″ or about 1/4″ thick.
  10. Season the dough by brushing on one tablespoon of olive oil, a little bit of sea salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes – this is optional but it adds to the flavor.
  11. Gently add the filling on top of the dough leaving 1/2″ border on all sides.
  12. If using the Parmesan cheese – add on top of the filling.
  13. Using the plastic wrap, gently lift it and begin to roll the dough (this helps with any sticking that would normally occur with out the plastic wrap and also helps prevent any tears in the dough.
  14. Once completely rolled up, gently cut the dough into six even pieces.
  15. Lightly grease (with cooking spray, olive oil, butter, etc.) a six cup muffin tin.
  16. Gently place each roll into a greased muffin cup – it is okay if they are not perfect. These are rustic savory rolls.
  17. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.
  18. Cool in pan for five minutes and serve warm with Feta Spread (see recipe below).

Feta Spread

This recipe is so simple – it has three (yes three!) ingredients and you can use it on so many things but I love it on a nice, fresh out of the oven, gluten-free roll.

There is no real set amounts for this spread, it’s all about personal preference – do you like it more spreadable? Then add more olive oil…need more garlic? Add in another cube, etc.

Simply combine the ingredients above in a small bowl until you reach your desired consistency and flavor profile. I like my with a bit more of feta flavor and a thick consistency so I add in a bit of feta (4 ounces or so), a cube of the crushed garlic, and about a tablespoon of olive oil…again this is all personal preference but it goes oh so well with these rolls!

Thank you to the lovely people over at Dorot! I greatly enjoyed working with your products.

Ginger-Spiced Roasted Pumpkin & A Good Cook Twitter Party!

I am loving being a kitchen expert and blogger for Good Cook. I have the pleasure of playing with lots of great items and reviewing them. Recently we were sent a box filled with all of these amazing tools to help us get through the Thanksgiving holiday with items like a roasting pan, turkey platter, turkey injector, brine bag, and SO much more! Are you interested in winning this and more? If so keep on reading.


Come Join Me, Good Cook, TheFrugalMom and other Good Cook Kitchen Experts! The Ultimate Thanksgiving Twitter Party, Monday, November 25, 2013 at 6:00 pm to 7:00pm EST On Twitter with hashtag #Thanksgivingtips.

Join in as we talk about everything Thanksgiving from turkey prep to decorating the table.  Plus get a chance to win a special gift and one of three $200 Thanksgiving Baskets that will arrive in time for your dinner. Be among the first 500 to RSVP by November 23, 2013 and receive a free set of Turkey Lifters. Click here RSVP.

All of the experts were asked to create a delicious pumpkin dish to share with everyone. I’m not the biggest sweets fan so I went for a savory dish and really…it could be two dishes in one.  I work at a natural foods store here in Rhode Island – it is an awesome little shop owned by and amazing couple who have become like family. All produce is organic – and as often as it can be, local. There are no artificial colors, sweeteners, HFCS, or GMO’s anywhere in the store! We also have (in my opinion) the best selection of gluten-free and allergen friendly items on the island. Needless to say I get a bit spoiled working here, and I hope wherever I end up next I can find a place like this. One of the items that we brought in for the holiday season was ginger curd. When walking past it yesterday I knew I had to incorporate it some how…I could have easily done a pie with this but again, I wanted savory. So I bought that and a pumpkin and headed home after my shift to create a delicious side dish that is suitable for vegetarians as well. I cut up the pumpkin using the Pumpkin Scoop (available at walmart) and the Good Cook Brownie Pan roasted it off with a delicious glaze made from the ginger curd, and the house smelt amazing! Best part is – you can puree this up with a little bit of stock (vegetable or chicken) and it makes a delicious soup as well…like I said, two recipes in one!

The Pumpkin Scoop is awesome – Its round with one edge being smooth and another edge that is serrated, and the handle has a serrated knife it in. The scoop is also great for removing the seeds and cleaning out other various squashes as well, and of course for pumpkin carving. The Brownie Pan is non stick and is just wonderful…nothing and I mean nothing stuck to this thing (as with most non-stick items wash by hand, it is not dishwasher safe. This helps maintain the quality and longevity of the pan).  Check out the recipe below

Ginger-Spiced Roasted Pumpkin

  • 1 2-3 pound Pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup Ginger Curd
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (all depends on your spice level)
Method of Preparation
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Cut pumpkin in half
  3. Using the pumpkin scoop, remove the seeds (roast or discard)
  4. Cut pumpkin into quarters and peel skin off and discard
  5. Dice pumpkin into 1 inch cubes and set aside
  6. In a large bowl mix together the ginger curd, olive oil, slat, cumin, and cayenne pepper (adjust seasoning to taste), mix until well combined
  7. Add diced pumpkin and toss to evenly coat.
  8. Add the pumpkin to the brownie pan and roast for 25 minutes
  9. Remove from oven and gently toss pumpkin
  10. Return to oven and roast for an additional 20-25 minutes or until browned.
  11. Serve warm and enjoy!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored review – I was provided products for review from Good Cook. Please note that the opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced by outside sources of any kind.

Strawberry Chia Scones {Product Spotlight}


I’m going to attempt a new feature on CCGF – I’m not 100% set on the details just yet but here is what I am thinking.

  • Either weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly I am going to do a product spotlight.
  • I do a bunch of reviews on the blog already but I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite thing.
  • These products are not necessarily going to be a food item, they may be kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, etc.
  • I plant to talk about the item, the pros, cons, how to utilize it, etc.
  • I just want to have fun with this and share with all of you my favorite items.
  • I started working at a natural foods store with tons of gluten-free options, many of which I have never tried so I thought I would incorporate some of those items as well.

What do you all think?

Below is my first product spotlight…

Pamela’s Biscuit & Scone Mix

By: Pamela’s Products

I love Pamela’s Products – it is one of my favorite packaged gluten-free goods. Lately I have been making my own flour blend to use but this is one that I would definitely go out and buy, especially her pancake mix (I’ll be taking that with me next week when we are fly fishing in Maine for a week). Below is a little bit of information about Pamela’s Products:

Here are some of the reasons why Pamela’s stands out from the crowd:

  • High quality sugars including, fruit juice, agave, coconut sugar, brown rice syrup and molasses create better tasting, decadent food.
  • The palm shortening is made from the most healthful part of the palm and is sourced from companies with fair trade and environmental stewardship track records.
  • Our nuts are from American suppliers to ensure freshness and quality.
  • Minimally processed grains like certified gluten-free oats, brown rice, millet and sorghum are used whenever possible to provide the benefits of whole grains they offer.
  • Sweet creamery butter (non-rBGH of course) and the highest quality monounsaturated safflower oil are used. Pamela’s does not use low quality oils.
  • The cardboard used in our packaging is made from recycled materials and are recyclable. Soy ink is used in all cardboard printing. We continue to seek additional sources of recycled materials.
  • We are in the process of changing our plastic trays to 100% recycled material.

What we leave out is as important as what we put in:

  • We never use any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives.
  • We never use high fructose corn syrup.
  • We have statements from all suppliers verifying our ingredients are non-GMO.  We are currently preparing to join the non-GMO Project, and are working closely with our vendors to assure the quality and source of all our ingredients

Biscuit and Scone Mix Ingredients: Brown Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch, Sorghum Flour, White Rice Flour, Sweet Rice Flour, Grainless & Aluminum-Free Baking Powder (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Potato Starch), Natural Evaporated Sugar, Sea Salt, Guar Gum, Baking Soda.

Allergy Information: Free of gluten, wheat, eggs, dairy*, nuts*, soy*, corn,

*=depends on if you use butter or a butter alternative, and if you use almond or soy milk.

Pros: easy to follow directions with several recipes listed on the package itself. No sugar in the mix so you can add as much or as little as you want (I didn’t use much). You can use whatever ingredients you wish making your biscuits or scones either savory or sweet.

Cons: Can’t find it in a store near me but will contacting them to carry it.

How I used it: After reading the recipe options on the packaged (which all sounded delicious) I wanted to try my own thing. B went to the store yesterday and picked up two packages of strawberries that were out of this world delicious. So I thought of making a fresh strawberry and chia seed drop scone.

Strawberries are a good source of folate and potassium, and very good sources of dietary fiber, Vitamin C and manganese. Chia seeds are amazing little things. In just one tablespoon they pack 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and 2.9 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids! These are also great in smoothies, yogurt, and other baked goods.

These are delicious! I can however see why they say to use dried fruits in the recipe on the package…the fresh fruit makes it a bit sticky and uneasy to cut so I just made them into drop scones…don’t know if that is a real thing but it is now!

Strawberry Chia Scones


1 Package of Pamela’s Products Biscuit & Scone Mix

8 Tablespoons of Butter or Butter Alternative (Earth Balance), Cold

1/3 Cup Wholesome Sweetener Organic Sugar

1 Cup Almond Milk

3/4 Cup Fresh Strawberries, Diced

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds

Follow directions on package – however when mixing in the fresh fruit mix by hand to prevent the fruit from becoming over mixed.

Place rack in top third of oven and pre-heat oven to 375°.

Combine dry mix and sugar. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or pastry blender, cut in butter until pea-sized crumbs are formed. Add milk. Add strawberries and chia seeds, mix until well incorporated. Take two large spoons and scoop scones onto a prepared baking sheet (either greased or parchment lined.You can sprinkle the top with a little bit of sugar before baking if you wish. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Cool slightly and enjoy.

These came out moist and delicious! Hope you enjoy this recipes and give this mix a try. So versatile…you can make savory scones or biscuits as well!

*I was sent this mix from Pamela’s Products for a review – I was not compensated in any way and all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Vegetarian Burrito Bowls {Take-out At Home}


We both love Chipolte, Cilantros, and Pancheros (both similar to Chipolte) but eating out adds up and we don’t have the money to do that very often so I make as much as I can at home and call it “Take-out At Home”. When we do eat out at one of the places listed above we both tend to go for the vegetarian option – I always get a bowl because it is gluten-free (the corn tacos are as well, but I like the bowl better) and Bryan goes back and forth between a bowl and a burrito. We are not vegetarians, although we do try to eat several meals a week that are vegetarian, but we always order the vegetarian option at these places. Why? Because you get free guacamole (except for Pancheros)! Go ahead and laugh but I would rather save the extra $1.00 – $1.50 and get the guac instead of meat. It’s a much healthier fat anyway.

These are so simple to make at home and cost way less money! Below is a simple, quick, and delicious way to prepare the vegetarian bowls at home. This is also a great recipe for those on a budget because it utilizes what you have in your freezer and cupboards! You can however feel free to use non-instant brown rice, or dried beans (soaked, and cooked), and fresh corn on the cob (if in season).

Vegetarian Burrito Bowls (Serves 2)


  • Brown Rice, boil-in-the-bag                         1 bag
  • Cooking Spray                                             As needed
  • Corn, frozen – defrosted                               1 cup
  • Black beans, canned, no salt added            1 can
  • Cumin, ground                                              1/2 teaspoon
  • Cayenne Pepper, ground                              1/2 teaspoon
  • Lime, juice and zest                                      1 zested then sliced into wedges
  • Avocado                                                        1 pit removed, and flesh scooped out
  • Cilantro                                                          2 tablespoons chopped
  • Salsa                                                             1/2 cup, divided
  • Lettuce, mixed greens                                   1/2 cup, divided
  • Cheese, shredded                                         1/2 cup, divided

Method of Preparation:

In a medium sauce pan bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the brown rice (boil-in-a-bag) and cook on medium high heat for 10 minutes. Once cooked, remove from water and drain slightly over the sink. Divide evenly between the two bowls.

Lightly spray a small sautee pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add corn and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You are looking for a nice roasted color on the corn, you may need a little more or little less time depending on your stove. Be careful not to burn them.

In a small sauce pan add the canned beans (no salt added or low sodium is best). Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, a pinch of lime zest (1/4 teaspoon), and the juice of 1/4 of the lime. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes.

In a small bowl add the flesh of the avocado and mash it up with 1/8 teaspoon cumin, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Squeeze 1/4 of the lime into the bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Add the remaining 1/2 of the lime juice, cilantro and lime zest evenly into the bowls with rice and mix well.

Top the rice with roasted corn, black beans, guacamole, lettuce, and shredded cheese. Serve with additional lime wedges if desired. Also great served with tortilla chips.

Looking for other Take-out At Home dishes? Check out these delicious recipes below:

Pumpkin Spice Muffins (Starbucks)

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Blackened Shrimp Nachos

“Wendy’s” Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Mozzarella Sticks

Szechuan Beef (P.F. Chang’s)

Kabocha Squash Soup


This past week as “lacto-ovo” week in my Vegetarian Cuisine lab. With that being said, the following recipe originally did not have either lactose or egg in it but I had to make a quick decision at the end to add a dollop of cinnamon sugar sour cream to the top before presenting it because it didn’t meet the criteria for that weeks lesson. But honesty, this soup needs no such additions, it is naturally creamy with a bit of spice so the additional of the cinnamon sugar sour cream help off set that a bit for those who do not enjoy so much spice.

I picked up the kabocha squash (aka, Japanese pumpkin) which is an Asian variety of a winter squash. The outside of the kabocha is rough and dark green in color and may have some off white lines through it. The flesh is a beautiful yellow-orange. I would have to compare the flavor of this squash to that of a butternut squash, maybe a tad bit sweeter though and I found the texture to be similar to a pumpkin or sweet potato. Once blended, this was so thick and creamy…I was tempted to lick my bowl.

Kabocha Squash Soup

Yields about 40oz, Serving Size: 8oz, Number of Servings: 5

Soup Ingredients:                                                                              U.S. Standard:

  • Olive oil, extra-virgin                                                                      2 tbsp.
  • Kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, large dice                                35 oz.
  • Carrot, peeled, large dice                                                               5 oz.
  • Celery, large dice                                                                            5 oz.
  • Apple, granny smith, peeled, seeded, large dice                            4 oz.
  • Onion, white or yellow, large dice                                                    5 oz.
  • Garlic, rough chop                                                                           2 tbsp.
  • Ginger, grated                                                                                  1 tsp.
  • Paprika                                                                                             1 tsp.
  • Cayenne pepper                                                                               1 ½ tsp.
  • Cinnamon, ground                                                                            1 ½ tsp.
  • Vegetable stock, divided                                                                   4 ½ cups
  • Salt, kosher                                                                                        1 tsp.


  • Pine nuts, toasted                                                                               ¼ cup
  • Mushrooms, crimini, sliced and blanched                                           4 oz.
  • Sour Cream                                                                                         ¼ cup
  • Cinnamon                                                                                            1/8 tsp.
  • Sugar                                                                                                   ¼ tsp.

Method of Preparation:

  1. Gather all the ingredients and equipment.
  2. Wash, peel, and wash the squash, carrot, celery, and apple. Set aside.
  3. In a large stock pot add olive oil and heat over medium heat.
  4. Add onion, and cook until translucent. This should take about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Next, add in the kabocha squash, carrot, and celery.
  7. Cook for 8-10 minutes until slightly softened.
  8. Add in paprika, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon, stir to coat evenly.
  9. Next add in 4 cups of the vegetable stock. Reserve the remaining ½ cup – this will be used to blanch the mushrooms.
  10. Bring stock pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
  11. While the soup is simmering, take a small dry sauté pan and add the pine nuts.
  12. Cook over medium heat until lightly toasted but do not burn them.
  13. Remove the pine nuts and set them aside to garnish the soup with.
  14. In the same sauté pan add the remaining ¼ cup of vegetable stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 6-8 minutes.
  15. Once the mushrooms have finished cooking, set them aside in a small bowl to garnish the soup with.
  16. Add the mushroom stock to the simmering stock pot.
  17. To create the sour cream topping place the sour cream in a small bowl.
  18. Add the cinnamon and sugar and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  19. Turn off the stock pot.
  20. In a heavy-duty blender puree soup (in batches if needed), until smooth.
  21. Return back to the stock pot, season with salt.
  22. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  23. Soup temperature must reach 165°F before serving.
  24. Soup should be held at 135°F
  25. Serve immediately in a large bowl topped with mushrooms, pine nuts, and a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar sour cream.
  26. Cool remaining soup to 41°F as quickly as possible, by placing the a container of the remaining soup in an ice bath to help with the cooling process. Store in a refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  27. To reheat the soup, place it in a stock pot and cook over medium-low heat (do not boil) until it has reached 165°F for 15 seconds.

 Chef’s Notes:

  • This is a blended soup, so using a rough chop on the vegetables is a good way to save some time during preparation.

  • For a vegan option you may substitute out the sour cream for vegan sour cream such as “Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream”

Spicy Tofu and Cold Noodle Salad


I love soy products and sadly I don not consume enough of them, but that will be changing soon. I actually fell in love with soy milk when I lived in China.  I would wake up early to head down to the dining hall on the campus where I was working just so I could grab as many of the cups of fresh made soy milk that I could. I love both warm and chilled so I would drink one or two with my breakfast then put the rest in my refrigerator for later.

To me tofu is like risotto. By that I mean they are both blank canvases and you can do so much with them. Tofu is very versatile it can be used in smoothies, soups, desserts, stir-fries, fried, enjoyed as is, and so much more. It also takes on the flavor profile of whatever you marinade or cook it in. If you haven’t had a chance to try it, you really should. I feel like tofu gets a bad rap some times, people say they have had it and hate it but I wonder how they had it? Was it a not so good preparation or recipe? If so maybe this recipe will change your mind?

Here is a little information about Soybean and Soy Products

(information take from lecture notes, Vegetarian Cuisine lab at JWU with Chef Cwynar)

  • Soybeans are a wild plant from East Asia and have an edible seed.
  • The seed colors can vary from yellow, green, brow, black, or multicolored – here in the US we consume the green beans.
  • Soybeans are oilseeds – which are mainly grown for oil extraction.
  • Soybeans are great sources of protein and their composition is: 33% protein, 39% fat, and 28% carbohydrates. 1 cup cooked soybeans = 28 gm of protein (about 1 ounce)
  • Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Great sources of protein for diabetics
  • Low in saturated fat
  • FDA recommended soy food intake: “25 grams of soy protein a day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease”
  • Soy protein is one of the only plant proteins that is equivalent to animal protein.
  • Contains all 9 essential amino acids with high digestibility (.91)
  • Other benefits of soy: Reduces Cholesterol (could cut heart disease risk by 25-30%), Slows Artery-Clogging (neutralizes the ability of LDL cholesterol to infiltrate artery walls and trigger plague buildup which aids in avoid a heart attack), Fights Cancer (soy isoflavones – genistein, suppresses the growth of cancer cells), Strengthens Bones (new evidence that soy foods can cut the risk of osteoporosis and fractures in later years),  Eases Hot Flashes (because soy has estrogen like activity, a decrease of hot flashes may occur), and Helps Equalize Blood Sugar (for diabetics).
  • Isoflavones – studies show that as little as 25% grams of soy per day (less than 1 ounce!) reduces the risk of: heart disease, breast cancer, digestive disorders, eases symptoms of menopause, eliminates the problems of lactose intolerance, prevents symptoms of milk allergies, and is beneficial in diabetic diets (equalizes blood sugar)

Tips on ways to add soy products into your diet

  • Soymilk – don’t expect it to taste like cows milk, it has a nutty flavor, comes in many varieties such as: plain unsweetened, sweetened, vanilla, and chocolate
  • Tofu: use silken tofu in soups (miso soup), smoothies, and custard like desserts, it takes on different flavor profiles, if you marinate it before cooking it will have a deeper more intense flavor, you can grill it, bake it, fry it.

Last week was soy week in vegetarian cuisine and below is the recipe that I created.I like to make different noodle dishes at home, some warm, some cold, and I never write down how I make it because usually it is one of those “what do I have in the house” type meals. So when I knew that I had to make a salad for class that night I thought, “oh this is the perfect opportunity for me to actually write it down!”. I tend to change up the ingredients based on what I have on hand so feel free to get creative with this. Sometimes I drizzle in a little toasted sesame seed oil, and chili oil (we like spice in this house!), and even top with some toasted sesame seeds.

This salad works great for summer cookouts because there is no dairy. It travels well and the longer it sits the more intense the flavor. I would suggest eating it within a day or two though (if there is any left).

Spicy Tofu and Cold Noodle Salad

IMG_4496(close up)

Sauce/Marinade (divided)

  • Ginger, fresh, grated                                                                                       1 tsp.
  • Garlic, fresh, grated                                                                                        1 ½ tsp.
  • Tamari, gluten-free, low sodium                                                                      4 tbs.
  • Chili paste                                                                                                       1 tsp.
  • Hoisin Sauce, gluten-free                                                                                1 ¼ tsp.
  • Agave or honey                                                                                               ½ tsp.

Cold Noodle Salad

  • Tofu, extra firm, diced                                                                                      6 oz.
  • Mushrooms, baby portabella, diced                                                                10 oz.
  • Zucchini, diced                                                                                                10 oz.
  • Bell Pepper, red, diced                                                                                    4 oz.
  • Bell Pepper, yellow, diced                                                                               4 oz
  • Water, tap                                                                                                        1 qt
  • Rice noodles, Medium                                                                                     12 oz
  • Green onion, cut on a bias                                                                              ½ oz
  • Bean sprouts                                                                                                   4 oz
  • Cilantro, chopped (divided)                                                                             1 tbsp.

Method of Preparation

1.   Gather all the ingredients and equipment.

2.   Peel the ginger and garlic and grate them into a medium bowl using a microplane.

3.   Add remaining sauce/marinade ingredients (Tamari, chili paste, hoisin sauce, and agave), mix well.

4.   Check sauce/marinade for spice level and adjust if needed.

5.   Take 2 tablespoons of sauce/marinade and place in another medium bowl. This will be used to marinade the tofu.

6.   Gently wrap tofu in a several paper towels and press it lightly to remove any additional moisture.

11. After you have pressed the tofu, dice it into ½ inch chunks and add to the second bowl to marinade for 20 minutes.

12. Gently wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt.

13. Cut the mushrooms into quarters and set aside.

14. Wash the zucchini and pat dry. Cut in half, length wise, then cut in half, length wise again. Dice into ½ inch pieces and set aside.

15. Wash peppers. Remove tops, seeds, and ribs. Dice into ½ inch pieces and set aside.

16. In a large sauce pan add 1 quart of water and bring to a boil.

17. Once the water is at a boil, add the rice noodles and cook for 7 minutes.

18. Add all mushrooms, zucchini, and red and yellow bell peppers to the boiling water. Continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes.

19. Strain all contents of the pot in to a chinois and run cold water over the noodles and vegetables to stop the cooking process. Drain well.

20. Add the noodles to the first bowl with the sauce/marinade and mix well to make sure all the noodles are coated with the sauce/marinade.

21. Add in the green onions, bean sprouts, and ¾ tablespoon cilantro, mix well.

22. Place the noodles and vegetables on a serving dish and top with marinated tofu and the remaining ¼ tablespoon of chopped cilantro.

Chefs Notes:

A)    The medium rice noodles work very well in this dish, they absorb the sauce nicely, however you may substitute thin or thick rice noodles, buckwheat noodles, or gluten-free spaghetti (Sam Mills corn pasta works great in this).

Sweet Potato and Pine Nut Risotto


Below is a recipe that I created a few weeks ago while in my vegetarian cuisine lab at school. Each week we are all assigned a component of the meal and we need to create a recipe based on that and what our lecture and demo are on that day. Right before break our lecture and demo were on fruits and nuts and I was assigned the entrée portion of the meal. One thing I really love about this class is that we have the freedom to create recipes each week instead of being handed a recipe and asked to make it, or our twist on it. It took me a little while to figure out what I wanted to make that I could incorporate fruits and nuts in it.

I decided to start with my favorite “blank canvas”…a risotto! The idea just grew from there. I looked around the kitchen saw some golden raisins, pine nuts (one of my favorite nuts), baby spinach, and sweet potatoes (another favorite of mine!). I didn’t want the risotto to turn out sweet (because of the raisins), so I added a bit of cinnamon and grated Gruyere cheese instead of the traditional Parmesan cheese.

My chef and class really enjoyed the flavor combination and I can’t wait to make this again. Hope you all enjoy it.

Sweet Potato and Pine Nut Risotto

A hearty risotto with sweet potatoes, pine nuts, golden raisins, and spinach, a savory dish with a hint of sweetness.

Yield: 3 cups      Serving Size:  ½ cup     Number of Servings: 6


  • Vegetable Stock                                                                4 cups
  • Sweet Potato, brunoise                                                     4 ounces
  • Shallot, fine brunoise                                                         2 teaspoons
  • Garlic, fine brunoise                                                           2 teaspoons
  • Olive Oil, divided                                                                4 tablespoons
  • Cinnamon, ground                                                             1/8 teaspoon
  • Ginger, grated                                                                     ¼ teaspoon
  • Arborio Rice                                                                        1 cup
  • Pine Nuts, toasted                                                               ¼ cup
  • Golden Raisins                                                                    ¼ cup
  • Spinach, fresh                                                                      ½ cup
  • Wine, white                                                                           ¼ cup
  • Pepper, white                                                                       1/8 teaspoon
  • Gruyere cheese, grated                                                        ¼ – ½ cup
  • Parsley, chopped                                                                  1 tablespoon

Method of Preparation

  • Gather all ingredients and equipment.
  • Heat vegetable stock in a medium pot to a simmer, then lower heat to keep warm.
  • Wash and peel the sweet potato, then wash again.
  • Brunoise the sweet potato and set aside.
  • Peel the shallot and garlic. Cut brunoise and set aside.
  • In a large, heavy bottom skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add brunoise sweet potatoes and cook until lightly browned.
  • Sprinkle the sweet potatoes with cinnamon and toss to coat. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
  • In the same skillet add the remaining three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add shallots and cook for two minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute.
  • Add rice and stir to evenly coat with oil. Cook for one minute, until there is a slight nutty aroma, you do not want the rice to brown.
  • Add 1 cup of stock to rice and stir constantly until almost absorbed.
  • When the stock is almost absorbed, add an additional cup of stock. Repeat until the grains of rice are tender with a slight bite to them. About 20 minutes.
  • Add pine nuts, raisins, spinach, sweet potatoes, and wine. Stir until evenly incorporated and spinach has wilted.
  • Season with pepper and stir to incorporate evenly.
  • Remove from heat and add in cheese. Stir well.
  • Add parsley, and stir to incorporate.
  • Serve immediately.

Spring Rolls

Vegetarian Spring Rolls

Last month I graduated with my degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University and also started my bachelors degree in culinary nutrition with a concentration in clinical dietetics. This degree is more heavily focused in academics with a handful of culinary labs. The first one is Vegetarian Cuisine. At the beginning of the term we were given recipes for each week and everyone was assigned a different item…starch, veg, dessert, entrée, etc. However to change things up a bit our Chef said that we can use these recipes as guides (which in my opinion that is what recipes are for), and then create something from there. Which, I think is a great idea because this encourages us as students to be more creative and produce something that we have created. Instead of looking at the recipes I look at what I am assigned and go from there. I want to be able to create recipes that I can share with all of you so I haven’t been using the recipes that were provided to us. So far I have made a curry mango smoothie (this was on the legumes week – I was assigned beverage), these delicious vegetarian spring rolls (grains week – I was assigned vegetables), and this past week I made a sweet potato and pine nut risotto (fruits and nut week – I was assigned starch). These other recipes will be posted soon.

These spring rolls are pretty easy to make. You can always buy pre-cut vegetables to save you some time and you can use which ever vegetables that you like. I wanted to include as many colors as I could with what we had in the kitchen that week. I call it…eating the rainbow! The spring rolls are made with purple sticky rice instead of the traditional rice noodles. As I said I was given vegetables on grains week and we were provided with so many wonderful options of grains, but I really wanted to stick with something gluten-free so I could enjoy them as well. Plus, this purple stick rice has a beautiful color and texture to it. If you can’t find this rice you can always use the rice noodles, brown rice, forbidden black rice, etc. Be creative and keep it colorful (a great way to get your kiddos or picky eaters to eat their veggies). This is also a great recipe to make with your kids, its hands on, gets them to learn about the different vegetables out there and try new things.

Vegetarian Spring Rolls

A spring roll, loaded with an assortment of vegetables served with a sweet spicy dipping sauce.

Yield: 8 Rolls      Serving Size:  2 Rolls     Number of Servings: 4

Spring Rolls

Purple Sticky rice, cooked and cooled                  1 ½ cups

Summer squash, julienne                                       1 ounce

Asparagus, julienne                                                1 ounce

Carrot, julienne                                                       1 ½ ounce

Bell pepper, red, julienne                                        1 ½ ounce

Red cabbage, julienne                                             1 ½ ounce

Water, warm                                                             6 cups

Rice Paper wrappers                                                8 sheets

Dipping Sauce

Gluten-Free Soy Sauce, Tamari  (San-J)                  ¼ cup

Ginger, freshly grated                                               2 tsp

Garlic, freshly grated                                                1 tsp

Agave or Honey                                                        1 Tbs

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes                                       ¼ tsp

Method of Preparation:

1.    Gather all ingredients and equipment.
2.    Cook rice according to package and set aside to cool.
3.    Wash all vegetables, peel carrot, and wash again.
4.    Julienne all vegetables and set aside in small bowls.
5.    In a large bowl, add the warm water.
6.    Soak each sheet of rice paper in the water until it becomes pliable, about 30-45 seconds.
7.    Remove rice paper wrapper from water, and gently squeeze off any additional water.
8.    Lay rice paper wrapper flat on a large cutting board or damp tea towel.
9.    In the center of the wrapper add 3 tablespoons of rice, and equal portions of squash, asparagus, carrot, bell pepper, and red cabbage.

10. Fold down the top end of the wrapper over the center tightly, fold in each of the sides over the center (should look similar to an envelope), and roll up tightly. Set aside and repeat with the seven remaining wrappers and remaining rice and vegetables.

11. To prepare the dipping sauce combine the soy sauce (tamari), ginger, garlic, agave or honey, and crushed red pepper flakes in a small bowl.

12. Stir well to combine and serve along-side the spring rolls.

13. To serve, cut each roll on a bias and serve alongside the dipping sauce.

Butternut Squash Soup (GF, EF, DF, OF, SF, Vegan, Vegetarian)

This is a very easy and delicious recipe that is packed with plenty of flavor and perfect for the cool “winter” days that we’ve been having this past week. I honestly can’t complain about the winter that we have had so far, but I won an awesome Cuisinart Immersion blender from Soup Chick and decided I need to make some soup. I looked around at what I had and threw together a very tasty butternut squash soup that just so happened to be free of pretty much everything, except flavor. There is no gluten, eggs, dairy, onion, or soy and is vegan and vegetarian!! The recipe is simple and can be adjusted to your specific needs and tastes buds.You also don’t need an immersion blender, you can instead use a food processor (which I don’t own) or a blender.

Simple Butternut Squash Soup

In a large stock pot over medium heat add olive oil. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for 1 minute. Add celery and carrots and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Add chopped butternut squash and vegetable stock. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until squash is fork tender.

Remove pan from heat. Using an immersion blender blend soup until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Return to burner to warm throughout. Add maple agave nectar right before serving.


Asian Inspired Green Beans

When living in China a few years ago I feel even more in love with Chinese food (and Asian food in general).  I love the flavors, ingredients, smells and verity of cooking styles.  I had some of the best food I’ve ever tasted in Changping District.  Spicy cucumbers, Kung Pao Chicken, fresh made wonton soup and fresh soy milk (nice and warm) every morning.  One ingredient that I feel in love with was sesame oil.  It is one of those ingredients that just even smelling it makes me smile.

The other night when I was making Bryan some Sweet and Spicy Chicken I decided we need a vegetable to go along with it.  Our choices were broccoli or green beans and we opted for the green beans this time.  (I think both green beans and broccoli go well with Asian dishes).  Instead of just plain steamed green beans I wanted to spice things up a bit and came up with the following recipe (which I have since tested – as you can see from the photo above).

Asian Inspired Green Beans

1 pound green beans – ends trimmed

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp water

1/8-1/4 tsp honey

salt to taste

Steam green beans and drain – reserve one teaspoon of the hot water.  In a sauté pan add water, sesame oil and red pepper flakes over medium/high heat.  Add green beans and sauté for five-seven minutes (feel free to add more sesame oil or red pepper flakes to your taste).  Remove from heat and drizzle with honey.  Stir until green beans are coated well.

You can add any other vegetables you make like – mushrooms, shelled edamame etc.  As you can see in the above photo I added mushrooms and served them over some read quinoa…a great light and refreshing vegetarian and gluten-free side dish or lunch.

Also check out: P.F. Chang’s Shanghai Cucumber

Grilled Mini Portabella Burgers

Bryan’s sister is a vegetarian, and lately we’ve been talking about recipes and cooking together this summer, so I’ve been trying to think of some vegetarian recipes to try out and make together.  I honestly don’t know if I could ever be a vegetarian – I would miss chicken and fish way to much with the occasional read meat consumption.  I give people who are all the credit in the world But I tell you what, I could defiantly do it for a little bit especially if I ate a lot more portabella mushrooms.  They are so meaty and juicy that when I made my grilled portabella mushroom burgers I don’t even miss the hamburger aspect of it.  When grocery shopping today I grabbed a pack of mini (stuffing) portabella mushroom caps instead of the big ones.  Grab some romaine lettuce and some mozzarella cheese and made some mini portabella burgers tonight.  They were so good!  Plus you can’t really beat meal that takes 20-25 minutes to make (including marinade time)

Grilled Mini Portabella Burgers (you can do this with the large caps also)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 table spoon chili oil

3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 large portabella caps or four small caps – remove stems

In a shallow dish mix together the first six ingredients until well combined.  Add the mushroom caps and coat well.  Let them sit in the marinade for about 15-20 minutes, turning once or twice.  Heat grill or grill pan to medium, medium-high heat.  Oil the grates of the grill or grill pan to prevent sticking.  Place mushroom caps step side up for 4 minutes (for large caps, and 2 minutes for the smaller caps), turn and repeat on the other side.  Once cooked, top with mozzarella cheese and slices of tomatoes.  Instead of a bun I use romaine lettuce leaves.  Served with a yummy salad instead of fries! Enjoy

Leigha …. this recipe is for you!

(The Whole Gang – Friday Foodie Fix – Secret Ingredient – Balsamic Vinegar)