Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Butternut/Pumpkin Creme (Simple & Delicious Winter Squash Soup)

So simple, yet, so delicious! Just a few ingredients transforms winter squash into an wonderfully scrumptious creamy golden soup! Although we call it "Creme", there is not a drop of cream or other fat/oil in this lovely soup. Butternut/Pumpkin Creme is naturally gluten, dairy, and fat free. The pepper and cayenne complement the natural sweetness of the squash and nutmeg elevates the luscious golden cream to the next level.

Use your favorite winter squash; or try any of the ones pictured below. We love this cream so well that I often make a double batch so there is plenty to enjoy and share with a friend.

Butternut squash is often available already peeled and cut - the hardest part of prep already done! so it is easy peasy and quick.

Onions maybe omitted; if you omit them, a pinch or two of freshly ground cumin maybe added.

Butternut (Winter Squash) or Pumpkin Cream

Pie Pumpkin in the back, Delicata in left corner,
Butternut in the middle, and green Kabocha
Makes about 2 quarts (8 cups)


2 lbs Butternut squash/winter squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 small Onion, diced
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1-2 pinches Cayenne (optional)
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Cashews, preferably raw
1 pinch Nutmeg

Optional Garniches
Freshly ground pepper/paprika/cayenne
Grilled corn kernels
Toasted Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds
Coconut Milk, chilled


Place butternut, onion,cashews, turmeric, nutmeg, salt to taste and cayenne if using, in a pan with a cup of water; cook until squash is tender. Check to make sure there is enough water and the veggies do not scorch or burn. Let cool a little.

Puree the cooked veggies and process until smooth and silky. The veggies may need to be pureed in 2 or 3 batches. Although I prefer a regular blender for the silky texture it gives, an immersion blender maybe used as well. Add a little extra water as needed to get the right consistency and thinness.

Pour the puree back into the pan and heat through. 

Serve hot with additional freshly ground pepper and your favorite garnishes.


Butternut Cream with Grilled Corn Kernels

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Red Onion Salad With Lime Juice

Red Onion Salad
Red Onion Salad, though simple, is quite delicious served as a side salad or as a topping for other salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, and main dishes in many cuisines - Indian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, etc. The lime juice, chile and the herbs bring a burst of fresh flavor to every bite.

We love this as a condiment to most meals. Although limes are the citrus fruits of choice (key limes as well as other limes are equally delicious), lemons work fine also. If red onions are not handy, other kinds may be used which then will be simply "Onion Salad" :-).

Variation: If tomatoes are added, then we have Red Onion & Tomato Salad! Stir in two thinly sliced tomatoes. Adjust the amounts of lime juice, chile, cilantro, and the seasonings if tomatoes are added.


1 medium Red Onion, finely sliced/slivered
1 Red Bell Pepper, very thinly sliced
1 hot Red or Green chile (serrano or jalapeño), cored and sliced thinly
2-4 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 1 Lime/Lemon, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste

Red Onion Salad

Slice or cut into slivers the onion very finely; a sharp knife, mandolin or a slicer comes in very handy for this.

Put the onion in a bowl, cover with a pinch of salt and ice water and let rest for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Soaking in the ice water removes the sharpness or bitterness of the onions and renders them mellow.

Assemble the salad: In a bowl combine the driained onion with the rest of the ingredients adding lime/lemon juice to taste; mix well. Serve immediately or reserve up to an hour or two in the fridge.

Red Onion Salad is best eaten fresh but is still tasty enough chilled in the fridge for another day or two if there are leftovers.


Seasoned Salt With & Without Onion/Garlic

Seasoned Salt is a handy item to have in the pantry; it is fabulous to spice up everything from sliced veggies/salads, roasted, steamed, boiled or grilled vegetables, and your favorite recipes. Although commercial preparations are available, many have fillers, preservatives, anti-caking agents, etc. This easy home-made seasoned salt is quick and easy and the ingredients can be adjusted to personal tastes and preference.

Have fun experimenting with different amounts and proportions or your favorite herbs. If you like a smoky flavor, use smoked paprika.


Seasoned Salt Without Onion/Garlic
1/4 cup Kosher or Sea Salt
4 tsps ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 tsp Smoked Paprika (optional)
1/2 - 1 tsp ground Red Pepper (Cayenne)
1/2 tsp Celery seeds (optional)
1/4 tsp Asafetida (optional)

Seasoned Salt With Onion/Garlic
All the ingredients above
1 tsp Garlic powder
1-2 tsp Onion powder


If using celery seeds, process in a spice grinder with a little of the salt until pulverized and proceed with the recipe.

Stir together all the ingredients for the appropriate seasoned salt you prefer and store in a clean, dry, airtight container.

Use as desired. Enjoy!!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Mexican Seasoning Mix (Homemade Spices For Beans & Veggies)

Mexican Seasoning Mix is an important spice mix for the pantry; it is not limited to seasoning only beans for burritos and tostadas but is also great for spicing up stir-cooked veggies (think fajitas!), rice, corn, Mexican Fiesta Soup, veg chili, etc! In fact, stir in Mexican seasoning mix into any recipe where you'd want to add a bit of spice. We love to slather grilled/steamed corn on the cobs with a concoction that includes lots of the Mexican seasoning mix ..... more on that soon :-).

Although commercial mixes are readily available, most have unknown "spices", sugar, or fillers such as corn meal; homemade is the way to go if one wants to eliminate all those. This is an easy and quick recipe that lasts well if kept clean and dry.

If you like to eliminate onion/garlic, omit them; the seasoning mix is delicious with or without them.

Mexican Seasoning Mix

About 1 cup

3 Tbsp New Mexico Chili powder 
2 Tbsp Paprika
1-2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tbsp ground Chipotle Chili powder
3 Tbsp Onion powder 
1 Tbsp Garlic powder 
1-2 Tbsp ground Cumin 
1 Tbsp dried Oregano, crushed
1 Tbsp unsweetened Cocoa powder
1 Tbsp freshly ground Black Pepper 
1/2 - 1 Tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 Tbsp Sea Salt


Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. Pour into a clean, dry, jar with a tight fitting lid. Store the spice mix in a dry cupboard.

Use as needed; for spicing Frijoles (Pinto Beans for burrito, taco, etc), you might like to add 1-2 Tbsp or more to taste for each cup of dried beans after the beans are cooked. For stir-cooked veggies or rice dishes, add about 1 tsp - 1 Tbsp depending on the level of spiciness required.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Veggie Ceviche! (Vegan Tofu/Veggie Salad)

Veggie Ceviche! 
Veggie Ceviche is an amazing recipe if I say so myself! You have to taste it's limey, cilantro goodness to see how delicious it is. The tofu truly gets so flavorful that one can eat a whole bowlful even without any of the additional ingredients - yes, I did exactly that!

There are 3 ways to make this ceviche; with tofu, cauliflower (raw or cooked until just tender), or hearts or palm - all equally delicious. This ceviche is an easy make ahead recipe and a great addition to the appetizer/starter, lunch, or a light meal repertoire.


Fresh limes work the best for this recipe; let the limes warm up to room temperature if chilled. If the limes are not juicy, or they are small, you may need more limes.

The tofu/veggies may be marinated up to a day in advance. To insure fresh taste and flavor, add the tomato and cucumber no more than about an hour or two before serving.

Jalapeño chiles maybe cored for a mild ceviche; leave cores in for more spice.

If fresh corn is not an option, frozen corn kernels maybe used; cook in a hot pan until slightly caramelized, cool, and then add to ceviche. Also, if you have leftover grilled corn, use it here!

Ceviche maybe served in many ways; one of our favorite way is to let everyone pile it on small romaine/endive leaves or warm corn tortillas. It maybe spooned onto tostada shells also or scooped up with tortilla/corn chips.

About 4-5 servings


1 block Regular OR Firm Tofu (14 oz), cut into 1/4" cubes 
1 clove fresh Garlic, mashed well
1 small Red Onion, finely diced
2 Roma OR 1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes, diced small
2 Persian Cucumbers, diced
2 Corn on the cob, grilled and cut off the cob
1-2 Jalapeño chiles, cored and minced
2-3 large Limes, juiced
1 large bunch Cilantro, finely chopped, divided
1 tsp Salt, divided
1/2 Mandarin/Regular Orange, sliced (optional)
1/2 cup Green Olives, sliced (optional)
1-2 Avocadoes, diced

To Serve:
Lime wedges
Hot Sauce (Mexican type)
Romaine/Endive leaves
Corn Tortillas (warmed)
Tortilla Chips/Tostada Shells


Drain the tofu thoroughly and rub with a couple of pinches of salt, wrap in toweling, weight down, and drain. Blot well and cut into cubes.

Pound together using a mortar and pestle or pulverize using a food processor, half the cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, and half the jalapeño chile.

Combine Tofu, the pounded cilantro mixture in a non-reactive bowl (glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl), and the juice from one lime; mix well. Place the tofu mixture in a ziptop bag, flatten the bag gently so the tofu is in one layer and there is enough juices to coat all the cubes. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

If using cauliflower (raw or cooked until al dente and cooled) or hearts of palm, cut them into small florets or cubes. They don't need to be pre-marinated. Just combine them with the rest of the ingredients.

Grill the corn on the cob and let cool. Cut off the kernels carefully from the cob.

In a large non-reactive bowl, mix together the garlic, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn kernels, rest of the green chiles, rest of the cilantro, the juice from one lime, and the olives if using. Stir in the tofu and season with salt to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon or so. Add the mandarin/orange if using, to the ceviche and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours if not serving immediately.

Just before serving, gently stir in the diced avocado. Taste and add more lime juice as needed.

Serve with chips, tostada shells, tortillas, romaine and/or endive. Pass the hot sauce and lime wedges.

Veggie Ceviche! 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin (Roasted Cauliflower Casserole)

Here is a delightful rib-sticking versatile dish that might evoke memories of Mac & Cheese especially if you choose golden potatoes although any type will work! Do serve the gratin over the greens not just for the added nutrition but also for the lovely taste. Another fabulous gratin to add to the repertoire just like this one.

As it works well to make ahead, it is great to just bake and serve! Cauliflower, grains/potatoes, topping, etc maybe prepared ahead also and then assembed and reserved until baking and serving.

If you choose potatoes, they maybe roasted along with the cauliflower. I love to add carrots and/or peas often also. 

6 servings



1 Medium Cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

GRAINS/POTATO: - Choose your favorite

2 cups dry Whole Grains/Potato, cooked


2½ cups any Non-Dairy Milk
5 sprigs EACH: Italian Parsley, Thyme, and Marjoram + extra for the gratin
1 Tbsp Crushed Fennel Seeds
1/2 tsp Whole Black Pepper, cracked
1/4 tsp Salt


1 Onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp Rice flour
½ cup Nutritional Yeast
¼ tsp ground Nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp Mixed Herbs (same as above), finely minced


½ cup Rice Cracker/Gluten free Pretzel crumbs
¼ cup toasted Nuts/Seeds of your choice


8-9 Cups Arugula, Baby Spinach, OR Mixed Greens


1. MAKE THE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the  season with salt and pepper. Pour into an even layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast until tender and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. COOKED GRAINS/POTATO: Choose which you would like - grains or potato. Cook the grains as usual if that is the choice. If your choice is potato, cut the potato into short but sticks and cook them or roast with the cauliflower.

3. Make the STEEPED MILK: combine the milk, herb sprigs, black pepper, and crushed fennel seeds.

Warm the milk until very hot; steep for 10 minutes on low heat. Strain, discard the herb-spice solids, and season the steeped milk with the salt.

4. MAKE THE GRATIN: Heat a large pot over medium heat, the flour to the pot and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes until toasted. Pour out onto a plate.

5. Add the onion with a little water to the same hot pot and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Mix in the toasted flour. Add the steeped milk gradually, whisking to incorporate. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until it thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.

6. Stir in the minced herbs, nutritional yeast, the cauliflower, and the cooked grains/potatoes, season generously with pepper, salt to taste, and mix thoroughly.

7. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish in Step 1. (The recipe can be made ahead up to this point and reserved in the refrigerator until ready to bake and serve.)

8. MAKE THE TOPPING: In a medium bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Sprinkle it in an even layer over the cauliflower mixture when ready to bake.

9. BAKE: at 375°F until the gratin is bubbly and has thickened slightly, about 30 minutes (add 10-20 minutes more to baking time if refrigerated).

10. SERVE: Place about 1 - 1 1/2 cups of the greens on each plate and place the hot gratin on top. Serve hot immediately.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mexican-Style Many-Layer-Dip With Homemade Chips

Many-Layer Dip
Colorful, delicious, guilt-free Mexican-Style Many-Layer-Dip, irresistible with the cahew/tofu “cream”, and served with homemade chips or tortillas, is a delightful dish for a few or a crowd. Choose cashews or tofu to make the "cream". I call this Many-Layer-Dip since it has many lovely layers contributing great taste, colors, flavors, fiber, and amazing nutrition. Choose to include all the ingredients, a few only, or add even more - this recipe is very adaptable.

Assemble the Many-Layer-Dip no more than 2-3 hours ahead if you want to keep it looking pretty. Although it will still be fine in taste and safe to eat after that time, some of the the layers will not stay distinct as some of the juicy layers start to mix with those next to them.

The avocado stays nice and green without oxidizing as it is well ensconced without exposure to air. No air = no oxygen = no oxidation! :D


It is very easy to prepare freshly cooked beans; check this post on cooking beans. Or use canned beans for ease of prep - I think one 15 oz can should do it.

If not using the chipotle chile, add a pinch of cayenne to the cream.

Another fabulous topping for the layered dip is Tzatziki! I happened to have tzatziki handy so used it instead of the "cream" and it was truly delicious!

I often serve the Dip with warm corn tortillas; sometimes turning on the oven on a hot summer day is just unthinkable as well as unbearable! Tear out a piece of tortilla and top it with a scoop of  dip! Keep a spoon handy to load portions of the dip on to the tortillas. Yum!

8 Appetizer Servings



8 corn tortillas, cut into wedges
1/2 Lime/Lemon
1-2 pinches Salt
1-2 pinches ground Chile/ Cayenne (optional)


1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked OR ½ (14-ounce) package firm silken tofu, drained
2 tablespoons fresh Lime/Lemon juice or to taste
1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce + 1 Tbsp of the adobo sauce (optional)
Salt to taste


1½ - 2 cups Cooked, mashed Pinto/Black beans OR One 15oz can refried
1 big pinch Garlic powder
1 big pinch ground Cumin
1 big pinch dried Oregano

AVOCADO: make guacamole or dice small

1 avocado, diced
2 Tbsp Red Onion, minced
jalapeño, cored and minced (optional)
1 small clove Garlic, mashed (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Fresh Lime juice to taste


1 cup fresh corn kernels OR or frozen, thawed
1 cup Salsa, homemade or purchased
1-2 cups Romaine lettuce, finely chopped 
2 Scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
1 small Red Onion, finely chopped, divded (2 Tbsp for the Avocado)
1-2 Tomatoes, seeds drained, diced  small
3-4 Tbsp fresh  Cilantro, finely chopped
½ cup Black Olives, thinly sliced 


Endive/Romaine heart leaves
Radish slices


Make Tortilla Chips: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rub the tortillas with a little lime/lemon, sprinkle the salt and chile if using. Cut the tortillas into 6-8 wedges, place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake until crisp, about 20 minutes.

Prepare Cashew/Tofu Sour Cream: combine the drained Cashew/Tofu, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using) in a blender carafe; season with salt to taste. Purée until smooth. Chill the “sour cream” until ready to use.

Beans: Combine the mashed/canned beans, garlic powder, cumin, and oregano in a saucepan and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if needed to help combine canned beans. Let cool.

Avocado: Prep this just before layering; mix the avocado with the rest of the guac ingredients - leave it chunky or mash coarsely as you wish.

Assemble the Dip: Spread the beans on the bottom of a glass serving dish. Layer the avocado over the bean layer. Top with the salsa, followed by the scallions, lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, corn, and cashew/tofu sour cream in this or any other order you like keeping the layers even and neat. 

Sprinkle with the cilantro, scatter sliced olives on top, and serve immediately or chill in the fridge for up to 2-3 hours. 

Serve with the tortilla chips, endive/roamine leaves, radish and jicama slices, and more salsa.

Buen Provecho!!