Meatless Monday: Sweet Butternut Squash and Chick Pea Curry

Sweet Butternut Squash and Chick Pea CurryYou’ll enjoy the heartiness of this meatless recipe with its slightly sweet and savory flavor.  The sweetness in this curry dish originates from a small butternut squash and a pinch of cinnamon. Prep time and cook time both require 15-20 minutes.  You can save some prep time by purchasing squash that is already peeled and diced (only 12-16 ounces needed).  You may just need to adjust the dice to make smaller.  Enjoy this delicious dinner!

Sweet Butternut Squash and Chick Pea Curry (serves 6)

1-1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced (1/2 inch)

1 tablespoon coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

1-14 ounce can ‘lite’ coconut milk (unsweetened)

1 medium sweet onion, diced (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1- 15 ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup sweet green peas (fresh or frozen)

Basmati rice or Naan bread

In a large skillet, heat oil and sauté onion, ginger and garlic for about 3 minutes until onion becomes translucent. Add coconut milk, curry, tomato paste, and cinnamon. When mixture boils, add squash and sweet green peas. Cover and simmer on low until squash is tender, 10-15 minutes. Uncover skillet and add chick peas. Heat through and taste. Adjust flavor with a sprinkle of curry powder, salt, and/or a pinch of sugar. Serve on a platter surrounded by triangles of toasted naan bread or over basmati rice. Enjoy!

Mango & Black Bean Avocado Bowl


The look of my local grocery store’s produce section is changing with the season.  I have recently found sweet mango and creamy avocado which make a great pair in this dish.  Add some black beans and toss with cilantro-lime dressing, and this outstanding salad (originally inspired from one in can escort you into the summer months!  A fun twist to this recipe is how it is served….proudly in a reserved avocado shell.  Enjoy!

Mango & Black Bean Avocado Bowl (makes 4)

2 avocados (firm and ripe)

1 ripe mango, peeled and diced

1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced

1 teaspoon lime zest

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/4-1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1, 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, vinegar, zest, salt, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Whisk in oil until thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust sweetness, if needed.

In a separate bowl, combine black beans, mango, jalapeño, and cilantro. Add dressing to taste, reserving extra dressing in fridge. Let mixture rest for 30 minutes.

When ready to serve, halve, pit and dice avocados, reserving shells. Combine avocados with bean mixture. Add more dressing, if needed. Divide salad amongst 4 shells. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Festive Accordion Potatoes

Accordion Potatoes

Today I asked my mom what dish I should bring for Christmas dinner.  She needs potatoes.  PERFECT!  I have just the recipe in mind…

Shallot-Chanterelle Accordion Potatoes are special.  Not only do they have a beautiful presentation, they are easy to make and don’t have the extra fat usually found in holiday spuds.  The prep work can be done ahead of time with a 15-20 minute oven finish at the party.  They were a hit at a recent class I taught.   I hope you, too, can enjoy them soon!

Shallot-Chanterelle Accordion Potatoes (serves 6-8)

8-10 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (size B), about 2 pounds

4 large shallots, thinly sliced

4 large Chanterelle mushrooms, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)  please note:  if Chanterelle mushrooms are not available, sliced cremini mushrooms can be substituted.

2 large sprigs rosemary

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make thin slice on one side of potato to allow potato to lay flat (and not rock).  To make an accordion, cut deep slices across potato about 1/4 inch from bottom (do not cut through) and 1/4 inch thick.  Place a shallot slice into each cut.  Add a few rosemary leaves to at least 2 slits in each potato.  Place potatoes in a 9×13 baking dish.  Brush with olive oil.  Salt and pepper each potato.  Sprinkle with chanterelles and remaining shallots and rosemary leaves.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake until potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes.  (or, pre-bake for 25 minutes before transporting to a party to finish with another 15-20 minutes in the oven before serving).  Enjoy!

Sweet & Savory Wild Rice Bake

Thanksgiving is upon us!  Next week will mark the 150th anniversary of celebrating Thanksgiving as a national holiday as declared by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.  Sharing a meal of thanks with family and friends is a cherished tradition that keeps our nation truly special.  In the tradition of sharing, I’ve got a recipe for you!  What makes Sweet and Savory Wild Rice Bake unique is that it satisfies many different needs at your holiday table:  it’s vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and very tasty!  It’s the dish I’m bringing to my family’s feast.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sweet and Savory Wild Rice Bake (serve 4-6)

Wild Rice

1 cup wild rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 stalks celery, diced

1 small sweet onion, diced

2 cloves minced garlic

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped

1/3 cup toasted pepitas

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup vegetable broth

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

Cook rice according to package instructions.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small skillet, heat oil and sauté celery, onion, garlic, and jalapeno until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add coriander and cook until fragrant.  Remove from heat and add pepitas, raisins and rice.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir in vegetable broth.  Fill a 9-inch square baking ban with rice mixture.  Cover with foil and bake 15-20 minutes until fully heated.  Drizzle with vinegar.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin-Pear Soup

Pumpkin-Pear Soup

I’ve been on a roll with posting ‘orange’ recipes in the past few weeks: Baked Sweet Potato Fries, Baked Pumpkin Pudding, and Warm Sweet Potato, Lentil, Apple Salad.  Here’s the one I promised last week, Pumpkin-Pear Soup.  It was featured in a class I recently taught at Marcel’s, Easy Fall Soups and Quick Bread.  My friend Molly attended the class and has made this soup twice since.  The original recipe uses an immersion blender to puree the soup.  Molly uses a stand blender to puree her soup.  I’ve listed both versions in the recipe below.

The finished taste of this soup is rich and creamy.  Your family may be surprised to find there is no cream in this soup.  Molly’s was!

Pear-Pumpkin Soup with Sage and Pepitas (serves 6)

2 ripe pears

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

3 tablespoons sage leaves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

15 ounce can pumpkin puree

4 cups (1 quart) vegetable broth

Juice from 1/2 lemon (1 tablespoon)

Cut pears in half.  Slice one half into matchsticks.  In a small bowl, combine matchsticks with lemon juice and one tablespoon chopped sage.  Set aside. Dice remaining 1-1/2 pears for the soup.

In a stockpot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and pears.  Cook until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes.  Add sage, allspice, salt and pepper.  Stir to heat spices.

Immersion blender version:  Add pumpkin and broth.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.  Cover partially allowing steam to vent, for 10 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

Molly’s blender version:  Blend contents of the stockpot with some of the broth in a blender. Return contents to pot and add pumpkin and remaining broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.  Cover (allow a slight vent) and cook for 10 minutes.

All:  Portion soup into 6 bowls and garnish with reserved pear and pepitas.  Enjoy!!

Asian Slaw with Sesame-Hoisin Dressing

Asian Slaw

We needed a quick side salad for our teriyaki chicken and rice dinner last night.  I had a head of Napa cabbage in the fridge and was able to quickly assemble this salad. My family voted this ‘lick-your-plate-clean’ yummy!

Asian Slaw with Napa Cabbage and Sesame-Hoisin Dressing (serves 4-6)

1 pound Napa cabbage, sliced

4 large radishes, sliced into strips

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 scallion, sliced thin strips

Dressing (adapted from

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Prepare dressing by combining ingredients with a whisk in a small bowl.

Place salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Toss with dressing.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

No Cook Summer Meal: Gazpacho Soup

Gazpacho SoupWhen it gets hot outside, I do my best to keep heat out of the kitchen.  The oven and stove top stay off when no-cook meals are on the menu. This easy, tasty Gazpacho soup is one of my favorites.  I’m teaching more favorite no-cook meals this Tuesday, July 9,  6:30-8pm at Marcel’s in Glen Ellyn.  On the menu is a Shrimp and Mango Wrap with Cilantro Lime Dressing, Summer Fruit and Veggie Slaw, and Creamy Chocolate Almond Frosty.  If you can join me, please register HERE.

Here’s the Summer Gazpacho Soup recipe to help keep the heat off in your kitchen. Enjoy!

Summer Gazpacho (serves 4-6)

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded

2 red bell peppers, seeded

4 ripe plum tomatoes

1 red onion

3 cloves garlic

3 cups tomato juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

juice from 1 lime

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, if desired

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes and red onion into 1 inch cubes.  Put half of veggies into food processor.   Blend until puréed to desired texture, 15-20 seconds.  Pour into large bowl.  Repeat with remaining veggies and garlic.  Pour into the bowl and stir in the tomato juice, oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly to  blend.  Season to taste and add cumin, if desired.  Chill before serving.

The recipe was adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook 1999

Spring Pea Shoots

Fresh Pea Shoots

This weekend if you are out at a Farmer’s Market, look for these fresh shoots.  They are rich in vitamin A, C, & folic acid and big in crunch!  They can be tossed into salads, steamed, stir fried, or added to a wrap or sandwich.  Once you find them, use them within one or two days.  Keep them stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a paper towel and placed in an open plastic bag.  Here’s an easy Asian-inspired recipe that I adapted from  It is ready in 5 minutes and a great way to start any meal.  Enjoy!

Pea Shoot Saute (serves 3-4)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 pounds pea shoots, rinsed, dried, and cut into 2-inch lengths

1 teaspoons soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium/low heat. Add the ginger and the garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Do not allow the garlic to brown. Add the pea shoots, increase the heat to medium, cover the pan and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the soy sauce and the pepper and toss to mix. Serve immediately, scattered with the sesame seeds.

Lentil Portobello Marinara

This recipe is truly enjoyed by everyone in my family (including my picky 10-year old).  It is an easy ‘go-to’ for nights when we enjoy meatless meals.    Please let me know how your family likes it, too!

Lentil Portobello Marinara (serves 6)

¼ cup olive oil

1 small sweet onion, diced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1  large carrot, diced

1 cup chopped Portobello mushrooms (about ½ pound)

1-15 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1-15 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes

1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

¼ cup red wine

2 bay leaves

5 basil leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon honey

2 cups lentils, cooked (I buy the refrigerated, prepared lentils at Trader Joes.  You can also used canned lentils when rinsed or make them from dried)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil on medium in a large saucepan.  Add onions and garlic, cook until translucent.  Add all other ingredients except the basil, honey, lentils, and salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for one hour, until sauce thickens.

Remove from heat.  Add lentils, honey, and basil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!