Mediterranean Pasta with Greens

I am really loving the warm weather, spring vegetables, and my Clean Food (vegan) cookbook! I was carb craving so decided to try out the recipe “Mediterranean Pasta with Greens” from the Spring section. My bad luck continues with my car being towed and ticketed today (I forgot it was Tuesday…street cleaning day on my block 😦 ) and my computer stopped working for 12 hours…so a nice comforting pasta dish was in store.  This absolutely hit the spot! It was quick, light, and tasty! Next time I would double the vegetables (a heavy on the pasta veggie ratio) and maybe try out , but overall the recipe was a success. I still don’t have my phone back yet (or a camera) so the pictures are not the same quality as usual, but I tried to capture the deliciousness! Enjoy!


1 pound penne or fusilli
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon dried basil *may have to add more spices if going to double the veggies…just keep the basil to oregano ratio
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas *I used 1 can of chickpeas
2 cups canned diced tomatoes with their liquid *I used 1 28 oz can of organic diced tomatoes. I would double this next time
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup mirin
1 small bunch kale, chopped (I used purple kind fun 😉 )*I would double this
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Cook pasta according to directions on package. Rinse, drain and return to pot. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.

In large Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté garlic and onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft (about 3 mins). Add basil, oregano, chickpeas, tomatoes, tomato paste and mirin. Sauté 5 minutes longer. Add kale, then cover and cook 3 minutes or until soft. Uncover and stir to combine all ingredients. Season with salt and lots of pepper and toss with pasta. (I had to add a little vegetable stock here because a little dry with all the pasta). Cook to heat through and serve.


Ma-Po Tofu with Tomatoes

I absolutely love Mapo Tofu, a classic Sichuan dish of simmered tofu and pork. My mother makes it every time I come home (from a nifty mix she gets from the Asian store 😉 ) My mother’s good friend and neighbor, Lily, who owns our favorite Chinese Restaurant (in Ohio), similarly makes it for me every time I stop in. I guess everyone back home knows my true loves…bacon and Mapo Tofu *winks*. So, imagine my delight while I am flipping through Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters Cookbook” and stumble upon a recipe for Mapo Tofu. While logic dictates that one can make it at home without the snazzy mix my mother uses, I had never tried it before. The result…deliciousness. I did use much more meat and red pepper flakes than the recipe called for but to each their own. Make it to your specifications and likes! Enjoy this Asian treat packed with lots of flavor and spice!


  • 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil(could use less especially if using more meat)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes, or to taste (I use 1-2 teaspoons depending on how hot I want it…*sizzle*)
  • 4 oz ground pork (I used a full pound)
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions (can substitute chives/shallots if don’t have scallions/green onions)
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine but DRAIN off juice)
  • 1/2 cup stock or water
  • 12 oz firm silken tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish


1. Put the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the garlic, ginger, and chile flakes and cook just until they begin to sizzle, less than a minutes. Add the pork and stir to break it up; cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses most of its pink color and beings to crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the scallions, tomatoes, and stock. Cook for a minute or two, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits of meat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring once or twice, until the tofu is heated through, about 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the soy sauce, taste and season with salt and more red chili flakes (if you want more heat). Garnish with cilantro and serve

**I serve it over brown rice but it can just as easily be tossed with brown rice noodles or whole wheat spaghetti. The whole dish only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and cook so start the rice or noodles first thing!

**A Variation from Bittman: Ma-Po Edamame – Substitute 3 cups fresh or frozen shelled edamame for the tofu. It will take 5 to 7 minutes of cooking at a gentle simmer for fresh edamame to become tender.

Sweet Potato, Corn and Kale Chowder

I made this dish (from Clean Food) during a “Girl’s Night In” dinner last week (with slight modifications from the original recipe). It was a huge hit and fantastic for left overs to keep the deliciousness going 🙂 A very colorful and comforting dish. Definitely a new favorite of mine (doesn’t hurt that it has kale *smiles*). Enjoy!


  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups corn, fresh or frozen
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups rice milk, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons cashew butter, dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)


In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute onion in oil over medium heat until soft (~3 mins). Add celery, carrots, sweet potatoes and corn. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add thyme and stock, simmer for 5 minutes. Add enough rice milk to cover the vegetables. Bring pot to boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft (15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and add dissolved cashew butter. Partially puree using a handheld blender. (I do not have a handheld blender, so I took about 1/3 of the soup, pureed it in my food processor and added it back to the pot). Add kale, return to heat, thin to desired consistency with water, stock, or rice milk(I thinned mine with vegetable stock).Cook until kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste!

Bison Bolognese

As a follow up to my post touting the advantages of bison, I thought I would post a recipe that uses it. Bolognese is a traditional Italian red meat sauce, with a heavy emphasis on the meat component (originated from Bologna, Italy). While I love meat and bolognese, changing ratios of traditional dishes to increase the vegetable content is always a goal of mine. Most of the time I end up liking the veggie heavy version better (or at least just as well!). I added red bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms this time around because they were fresh and calling to me at the grocery store. Experiment with different vegetables if those don’t tickle your fancy.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground bison
  • 5 medium carrots, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 8 oz cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 can diced tomatoes (28 oz) (or fresh if you have them)
  • 1/2 cup red wine**
  • Fresh oregano, parsley, and basil, rough chop
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper (optional or use less if you don’t want too much heat)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional topping)


In a stock pot or Dutch oven, sauté the carrots, bell pepper, celery and onion in olive oil. When vegetables begin to soften – push to the sides of pot. Add bison to middle of pot to brown. After the bison is browned and the carrots are somewhat soft add garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Cook for an addition minute or two. Add in the rest of the vegetables, cooking for another 5 – 8 minutes until begin to soften. Add tomatoes and red wine, reduce heat to medium low and cover for 20-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add fresh herbs 10 minutes before finish. Serve over pasta (I love linguini) and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

**Note: A great tip that a great chef once told me: “Cook with the wine you want to drink. Why skimp on flavor in your meals with bad alcohol…that’s just cooking blasphemy.” 🙂

Baked Apple Streusel (Vegan)

In sticking with my “cook your own junk food” theme, I decided to try my hand at some apple goodness. 🙂 This recipe was originally a Weight Watchers recipe, and while the portions are small (which isn’t a bad thing), I was very impressed with how quick and easy it was. I only made a few changes to the recipe to make it a little healthier and completely vegan (it was almost there on its own *smiles*). I swapped out the all purpose flour for organic whole wheat flour and the margarine for vegan butter. This recipe was absolutely delicious! (roommate tested and everything) Another added bonus to this recipe the ingredients are things I (and most people) almost always have stocked in the fridge and pantry! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 45 minutes. 4 WWPlus Points (2012). Serves 8.


4 medium fresh apple(s), peeled, cored and thinly sliced (use firm apples) **I would double this next time to get a little bit more volume, but if you do increase the number of apples be sure they are THINLY sliced so they cook easily
1/2 cup(s) unpacked brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour whole wheat flour
1/4 cup(s) uncooked old fashioned oats
3 Tbsp reduced-calorie margarine  vegan butter


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Stir together apples, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice; pour into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
  • Cut flour, oatmeal, remaining brown sugar and margarine together with a pastry blender or fork in a medium bowl; sprinkle over apple mixture.
  • Bake until apples are tender and top is browned, about 45 minutes. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.

Weeknight Mexicana Salad

With all the work hours lost to the black hole I liked to call the last 5 days of sickness, I needed a quick but tasty fix: enter a Tex-Mex inspired salad. Lots of color…lots of flavor…super fast…and pretty healthy (As you can see even the dog was drooling over it!). Serves 4. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cook Time: 10 minutes.


  • 3 head of romaine lettuce (when I am feeling extra hungry I use a whole…but small…head of lettuce per serving)
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (or I like to use this recipe if you have these spices at home)
  • 1 avocado (divided into fourths and sliced)
  • 1 cup corn (fresh or frozen and thawed is the best, but canned is fine, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (again if you are using canned, drain and rinse)
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or ranch dressing (3 tablespoons per serving)
  • Blue Tortilla chips (I love the Garden of Eatin’ Organic chips!)


  • Chop up the romaine lettuce and spread out equally into four large plates or blows.
  • In a large non-stick skillet. Brown the turkey, breaking up into small chunks as it cooks. Add in seasoning and 3/4 a cup of water and simmer for about 8-10 minutes or until sauce is thick. Top lettuce with seasoned ground turkey.
  • Mix the corn and black beans together and add 1/2 of the mixture to each plate.
  • Place the sliced avocados on each salad.
  • Use salsa and sour cream (or ranch) as dressing and top with crumbled tortilla chips (I use about 1 handful per plate).

Enjoy this super simple, easy weeknight recipe. It is a great alternative to taco night, with the same flavors and the crunch but with more greens. Just changing the ratio! *smiles* This salad can also be topped with fresh tomatoes, onions (I prefer red in this salad), black olives, and shredded cheese for some variety.

Lugaw…Filipino sick food.

As a Filipina American, my food cravings tend to lean towards my heritage and like most people… my childhood (especially when I am sick). Up until I was 7 years old my Filipino grandparents (on my mom’s side) lived at our house in a basement apartment. It is one of the things that I remember most fondly of growing up was having that second set of parents. My Lolo (grandfather in Tagalog) was a quieter man who spent hours upon hours tending his garden or reading, and my Lola (grandmother in Tagalog) I always remember as the Filipino chef. My parents would go on vacation and I would pretend that our house was a huge private airplane with my grandmother as the plane’s private chef. Life was always an adventure when I was 5. Another thing I remember about my Lola was her healing touch and healing food when I was sick. Enter lugaw (looh-gow) the Filipino version of congee (rice porridge). Also called Arroz Caldo (“hot rice”) it is typically served to the sick or small infants when completely solid food is not recommended yet. It is very similar to Cantonese style congee, but lugaw typically a thicker consistency, that retains the shape of the rice while achieving the same type of texture. It is boiled with fresh ginger. A lot of times it is topped with scallions and served with crispy, fried garlic. Chicken stock is also used to flavor the soup.

I decided in my sick state that while I am living on my own and my grandmother is no longer with us…I would prepare my version of some chicken arroz caldo for my poor sick body.


  •  5-6 chicken thighs (boneless or bone-in) (One can use the meat of a whole chicken to get the mix of white and dark)
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of uncooked rice (perferrably an Asian variety)
  • 1  lemon
  • 1 cup green onion (scallions), more more garnish
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, pressed of finely minced
  • 4 tablespoons of ginger (you can do more of less of this depending on how gingery you want the lugaw)
  • *1 hot chili, finely minced ( (I like most of my food spicy and when I have a head cold it opens things up…traditionally you don’t want any chilies)
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 6 cups water
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  •  In a large Dutch oven (or pot) heat up vegetable oil. Place pieces of chicken in oil. Salt and pepper the chicken and cook about 5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from the pot onto plate with paper towel to absorb the oil.
  • Add the scallions, onion, garlic, ginger, (and chili if adding) to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stirring so that the garlic does not burn.
  • Add in the rice, cook about 30 seconds, then add the broth and water to the pot.
  • Bring liquid to a boil. Juice half of the lemon into the pot, making sure no seeds fall in.
  • Cook the rice for 45 minutes, stirring frequently (about every 10 – 15 minutes). Add in more liquid if the rice is absorbing too fast. (I usually end up adding an additional 3-4 cups of water. One every time I go to restir)
  • Add the chicken back into the pot. Add juice from the other half of the lemon. Cook for an additional 30 minutes, again stirring frequently to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot (The rice will stick worse if you are using a nonstick type pot).
  • Ladle into bowl and garnish with scallions.