Collected from blog posts

In alphabetical order by category. Enjoy!

Want more recipes? My new fiction title Dune Girl includes a handful. It is now available as an e- book for Kindles, smart phones and tablets at Amazon books. 🙂

BEVERAGES

Feel-better Tea

Start with a bag or a ball of loose leaves of your favorite tea. (I prefer green tea for this drink.) Prepare the tea.

Add the juice of one lemon (about 1 Tablespoon). (If you don’t have real lemons in your vegetable crisper, get some before you succumb. They make almost everything taste better. You’ll use them up. You will.) Add 1-2 Tablespoons (yes, that much) honey. Stir and sip slowly while flipping through a good magazine, watching mindless TV or snuggling in a soft blanket with the dog by your side.

Remember to not give honey to infants. Feel better soon!

Mixed-Bag Sun Tea

Fill a large glass pitcher (like a half gallon or so) with room-temperature water. Filtered tastes better. Add seven bags of tea — four real tea (black or green) and three herbal tea (chai, berry, citrus, peppermint, etc. or throw in some herbs from the garden if you like.)

Rubber band a dish cloth over the top to keep the bugs out and set the whole thing in the sun. Whenever the tea looks the right color to you — brewing speed depends on how sunny and warm the day is — taste a sip. If it’s strong enough for your liking, remove the bags and refrigerate the pitcher. As this tea is more mellow than the kind brewed on the stove top and contains a flavorful mix, you probably will not need sugar.

Serve in tall glasses, with lots of ice, on a porch near you.

Simple Nada Sangria

Using a juicer or blender, puree small chunks of seedless watermelon and frozen orange juice concentrate in batches. We used about 1/4 can of OJ for half a watermelon. If you’re using a blender, you may need to start at “chop” or turn the blender off a few times to readjust the contents for easier blending.

That’s it! Sit on the porch and enjoy. And, if there’s anything left, freeze it in molds or ice cube trays for later.

Vegan Hot Chocolate for Two

Heat together 1 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk and 2 teaspoons sugar on medium heat, stirring frequently. Turn off the burner just as tiny bubbles form, but before the mixture comes to a boil.

Add 8 ounces of very dark chocolate (check label to make sure there’s no dairy). If it’s in chip form, just pour them in and stir to melt, reheating a bit if needed. If it’s in bar form, chop the chocolate into coarse bits before adding it to the nut milk mixture.

Serve in two mugs, topped with a vegan marshmallow or a dollop of coconut cream if you like.

World’s Best Smoothie

Combine in blender 2 tablespoons nut butter (I prefer natural peanut butter), 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 medium banana and enough dairy or nut milk for the fluid to reach the 1 1/2 cup mark. Blend thoroughly. Serves one.

BREAKFAST

‘Country Boy’ griddle cakes

In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup buckwheat flour (does not contain gluten), 1 cup all-purpose flour (wheat or gluten free), 1 Tablespoon baking powder, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon allspice and one pinch salt. Add two large eggs and 1/2 cup milk (dairy or nut). Mix well. Add water as needed to get to a consistency that is thick but somewhat pourable.

Pre-heat as many iron skillets as you have on medium-low. (I have enough to make cakes on all four burners. Use whatever you’ve got, but four skillets sure speeds things up.) Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons high-heat oil (like canola or coconut or, for dairy eaters, butter or ghee) to each skillet and swirl around to coat the bottom.

Spoon 1/4 cup rounds of batter into skillets. Working quickly, top each round with a sprinkling of raisins, apple bits or banana slices if desired. Watch cakes carefully. When the air bubbles slow down and the edges start to lift from the skillet, slide a spatula carefully underneath. If the cake lifts off cleanly, flip it and finish the cooking.

Line a large plate with paper towels and pile up cakes as they are done, dividing batches with more paper towels to soak up excess oil. (If lack of skillets slows you down, store this oven-proof plate in a low oven so cakes stay warm.) Add more oil to skillets as needed and keep frying and flipping until the batter is gone.

This recipe makes enough to serve six as a side dish. Adjust it up or down proportionally to fit your need.

Serve with vegetable soup for a hearty lunch. Cakes are flavorful alone and are also good with a touch of real maple syrup.

Frosty-Windows Oatmeal

Place 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats; 1 teaspoon brown sugar, maple syrup, honey OR molasses; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 Tablespoon of raisins (or any other dried fruit) in a Pyrex or heavy ceramic bowl. (If you make this breakfast a lot, use a dedicated Pyrex bowl as repeated microwaving will eventually trash your stoneware.) Add enough water to almost cover.

Microwave on high for two minutes. Stir. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of nuts and top off with a splash of nut milk or dairy milk. There you have it — a hot and healthy breakfast that’s speedy enough to make any day of the week.

Spoon-free oatmeal

This breakfast is all about preparation. Right after dinner the night before, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup quick oats, 2 bananas and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.* Mash. Stir in 1/2 cup raisins and 1/4 cup chopped nuts (such as walnuts).

Drop in 3-4 inch rounds onto oiled baking sheet. (Ideal size leads to about nine cookies — or 2-3 servings.) Bake for 15-20 minutes, until rounds are solidified but not brown.

(Eat one now. You know you’re going to.) Cool the rest to room temperature and store on the counter in an air-tight container that will be easy to find in a morning stupor.

*Note that this recipe does not contain any eggs, as the bananas (which can be frozen ones that have been thawed in the microwave) are the “glue.” It also does not include sugar. Try it once without any and see if the natural fruit sweetness is enough. If it’s not. Add 1 Tablespoon of your sweetener of choice. Brown sugar would be a good one.

BREADS & PASTRIES

Circle-the-Wagons Bread

In large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups white flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 packages dry yeast.

On the stove, heat 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk slowly, stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy. Add the liquids and 4 eggs to the flour mixture and stir well.

Gradually add another 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups white flour and stir until dough becomes too stiff to stir anymore. In the bowl or on a floured board, knead the dough, adding flour as needed to prevent stickiness, for 8-10 minutes. Dough will be golden and springy when it is sufficiently kneaded.

Oil the dough, place in clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise one hour in a warm place. When dough is doubled, punch it down and split into two pieces. Shape each piece into a rectangle and brush the top with melted butter, dust with cinnamon and sugar, and sprinkle with raisins. Roll the rectangle into a tube and place in a buttered loaf pan. Cover and let rise for another hour, until nearly double in size.

Bake the loaves in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on racks. Slices well while warm. Or, wait for loaves to cool and enjoy as toast.

Confetti Comfort Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter a loaf pan. In large bowl, combine 1 carrot (peeled and grated), 1 cup raisins, 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 1/2 cup water and one banana (mashed). Add three eggs and mix well.
Add two cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda and blend well. Put the batter in the prepared pan and bake one hour or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool on rack. When ready to pack lunches, either wrap up a single, thick slice or slice thinly and make sandwiches with a cream cheese filling. Mmmm.
This recipe doubles well. Bake one for now and freeze one, double bagged, for later.

Fool-proof Pie Crust

Thoroughly mix 1 cup flour (rice or wheat both work just fine) and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (For sweet fillings, add a Tablespoon of sugar.)

Add 6 Tablespoons olive oil, 2 Tablespoons water and 1 egg yolk. Mix with spoon or fork until barely combined. Then, gently knead until well combined.

Use the heel of your hand to press into deep-dish pie pan (there’s enough dough for an 8-by-8 glass dish if you prefer). Make sure the dough is even so you don’t get goo in the middle.

Fill and bake as directed. (Use only recipes intended for open-topped or struessel-topped pies or there won’t be enough moisture.) If you need an empty shell, prick the crust all over with a fork and bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Gluten-free Cornbread Stuffing

Two to three days beforehand, make two recipes of my Mountain-style Cornbread (in my recipe archive on homepage). You’re going for dry and stale. Air dry it under cheese cloth for at least 24 hours or dry it out on a low oven if you’re pressed for time.

The day before Thanksgiving (timed for the best flavor and juggling for oven time), use your fingers to crumble the rounds to bits in the largest bowl, pot, whatever that you have. Add 4-6 cups veggie stock. You’re going for moist, not soggy. Add water if needed. Set aside.

Coarsely chop four ribs of celery and four to six unpeeled apples (eating apples such as Gala are best for this).  Finely dice one small onion. Sautè onion, celery and apple chunks in 1 Tablespoon olive oil until fork tender.

Mix cooked celery, apple chunks, onion and 2 cups black or golden raisins (or a mix of both if you’re feeling fancy) with the moistened cornbread. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1 Tablespoon sage and mix well. Taste. Adjust seasoning to your palate. (I use way more sage than this, but that’s me.)

Place in an oiled 9×13-inch pan and bake in a pre-heated oven at 300 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown on top. Cool to room temperature. Cover in an airtight way and refrigerate until a half hour before turkey is done. Let return to room temp. While the turkey is resting, pop container back into a warm oven, covered with aluminum foil, to re-warm.

Pizza Dough for 1 to 12

In a large mixing bowl, mix 5 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 package of active dry yeast. (I also like to add Italian spices and chili pepper flakes at this point, but I’d avoid this if serving children or picky eaters. I once had to explain — one at a time — to 30 or so caroling children that the colorful flecks in their pepperoni rolls were not bugs.) Set aside.

In a glass measuring cup, heat 1 1/2 cups water for 1 minute in the microwave. Stick your finger in the water. If it burns, the water is too hot and will kill the yeast. Start over with new water. If the water feels like a warm bath should, pour it into the flour mix and do an initial mixing with a sturdy spoon.

When the dough toughens beyond spoon usage, mix it some more with your fingers then begin to knead (inside the bowl, no need to make a mess on the counter) by pressing the heel of your hand firmly into the dough and shoving it down and away from you. Continue to knead, adding small amounts of flour whenever things get sticky, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic enough to spring back a bit if you poke it with your finger.

Shape the dough into a ball, place in clean bowl and pour 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil on top, turning the ball so that it is coated with oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside in a warm place to rise. (In the summer, put it outside in the sun. If it’s really cold, you may need to heat a clean sock filled with brown rice in the microwave and pop it underneath the bowl. A hot sock is a wonderful thing to keep in the kitchen.)

Check the dough after a half hour. When it is done rising, it will be about twice the size of the original ball. When you’ve reached that point, punch the dough so that it collapses! (This is called “punching down” and is way cheaper than therapy.)

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This is where the 1 to 12 comes in. This amount of dough will make 12 small pizzas/ calzones, two large (10 inch) pizzas or a multitude of breadsticks/pizza bites. Figure out how you want to use it now and later and freeze what you don’t need in the correct quantity. For example, if you want two calzones at a time, split the dough into six equal portions. Set aside one portion for now and put the other five portions in separate, zip-locking bags and pop them in the freezer.

Frozen dough can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter for a couple of hours (less if it’s a hot day). It does not need to rise again, just be thawed enough to be completely pliable.

Regardless of how you use the dough (calzones, pizza etc.), it needs to bake about 20 minutes in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven. Check smaller items, such as pizza bites, after 15 minutes to make sure they are not getting overdone.

Mountain-style Cornbread

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. While the oven is heating, add 1 Tablespoon of fat to an 8- or 9- inch iron skillet. (Old-school cooks use lard. Butter tastes great. Since I am dairy free, I now use canola oil, which produces a comparable texture but doesn’t taste quite as good.) Put the skillet in the oven and let it heat.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine one cup yellow corn meal and one cup all-purpose flour (wheat or gluten free). Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 Tablespoon white sugar and 1 Tablespoon baking powder and mix well. Add two large eggs, 1 cup milk (dairy or dairy-free) and (if you like the tang of buttermilk) 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Mix well.

Using a thick mitt, remove the heated skillet from the oven (close the oven door behind you to retain heat). Spoon and scrape the batter into the skillet, smoothing out the surface. Return the filled skillet to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until top of cornbread is golden brown. Cool five minutes, cut into wedges and serve right out of the skillet.

Pumpkin Apple Bread

Butter two loaf pans. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degree C).

In large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking soda. Mix well.

In a smaller bowl, combine 2 cups (about 1 can) unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 5 eggs, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Mix well.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and hand stir just until mixed. Pour into prepared pans and bake 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans five minutes, then turn out onto rack. Enjoy alone or with apple butter or cream cheese (dairy or vegan).

Thrifty Gluten-Free Breading

Take one box of rice-square cereal. Snip off a corner of the bag to release trapped air. Fold the corner over and hold it firmly shut, then use a non-sharp kitchen tool or the heel of your hand to crush the cereal into course grains. (Don’t get too zealous. You don’t want powder.) Store the breading like any other cereal product in a zip-locking plastic bag. Done.

Use the breading in any kind of pattie or ball — everything from salmon cakes to latkes to veggie balls. Mix it with Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast or spices on top of a baked pasta dish for a crunchy topping. Mix it with wet ingredients like oil, egg or mustard and use it to coat things like zucchini fries or eggplant cutlets. It even makes a passable “graham cracker” crust.

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DESSERTS

Apple Harvest Cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a bundt pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/4 cups white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon molasses, 1 Tablespoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup oil or unsweetened apple sauce, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3 eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly.

Gently fold in 2 cups peeled and chopped apples, 1 cup chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup black or golden raisins.

Spoon mix into prepared pan, smoothing the top of the batter as much as possible. Bake 50-65 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. Cool upright in pan 15 minutes. Turn out onto a serving plate and cool to room temperature. If desired, glaze with a mix of 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and 2-3 teaspoons dairy or nut milk.

Bake Sale Brownies (low cost, high return)

Prepare one box inexpensive brownie mix according to package directions. Add one extra egg and 3 Tablespoons instant coffee granules and mix until moistened throughout. Pour mix into prepared pan. Sprinkle the top generously with 1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips. Bake as directed on the box. Cool completely. Cut into 12-18 pieces for single servings or into one-inch squares for a party tray.

(Some added twists. If someone is dairy free, use a dark chocolate chip. If you like nuts, layer walnut halves on the bottom of the pan before carefully pouring in mix. If you are fund-raising, cut the brownies into 12 rectangles, wrap each with waxed paper and tie with a yarn bow. Put a label on the tray that says “Double-Chocolate Mocha Brownies,” and you’ve probably doubled your selling price. Seriously. People like chocolate that much.)

Choco-nut Nice Cream

(This soft-serve recipe depends on frozen bananas. There is a market in our city that sells bananas in slightly blackened peels 10 for $1. This is the degree of ripeness that you want. Stock up, peel them, toss them in a zip-locking bag and freeze them until ready to use. They oxidize a bit, but will remain tasty for 2-3 months. These are also great eaten frozen-treat style with a paper-towel wrapper or thawed and made into banana bread.)

Back to the nice cream. In a quality blender, mix 2-3 frozen bananas broken into chunks, 2 teaspoons cocoa powder, 2 Tablespoons natural nut butter (I used a peanut butter that contains only peanuts) and enough nut milk (I used cashew-almond blend) for the liquid to meet the 2 cup mark. (Experiment. The more frozen bananas, the more spoonworthy the nice cream.)

Blend on the chop setting until bananas are broken into small pieces. Crank it up to high speed and mix thoroughly. Eat immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Iron Skillet Apple ‘Pie’

Thinly slice (but don’t peel) one large eating (not baking) apple per serving. (Galas work well for this.) Place the slices in an iron skillet (8-9 inches diameter works best if you’re serving four or more).

Add 1/2 Tablespoon of unsalted butter per serving. (Yes, you can use oil if you’re dairy free or vegan, but it won’t taste quite as good.) Add 1/2 cup of water. Add 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.

Cook over a low flame for as long as an hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water whenever the mix begins to dry out. It’s done when slices are limp but intact and are surrounded in rich, gooey sauce.

Turn off the heat about 10 minutes before you plan to plate the apples. Taste the sauce once. The apples are naturally quite sweet, but will taste best if you add a small amount of sweetener such as molasses, honey or brown sugar. Stir and taste again. Add more sweetener only if needed.

(Larger quantities of this can be made ahead and refrigerated, but tend to turn into more of an apple sauce texture.)

Serve alone, with a crunchy topping such as granola or, if you want to go all out, with some vanilla ice cream or nice cream. This is also good over morning toast or in oatmeal. Enjoy!

MEAT/SEAFOOD

Lemony Salmon Spread

Drain one can of wild-caught pink salmon. Using your fingers, either remove visible skin and bones or (as I do) mash them thoroughly for added nutrition. Add the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon finely minced rosemary (use less if using dried) and 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Mix well.

Use this spread with cooked pasta, on excellent baguettes, with pita crisps etc. Combined with a salad or a fruit and veggie tray and something chocolate (check my recipe archive for Bake Sale Brownies), it’s a simple but delightful way to round out the summer beach season.

Moo-free Salmon Bake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a baking dish (a Dutch oven or 9-by-13-inch Pyrex dish works well) with coconut oil or some similar dairy-free alternative. Set aside.

Put one can of drained, wild-caught salmon into a medium bowl and crush skin and bone bits well. (I crush rather than remove such parts. One, if I’m going to eat meat, I don’t want to waste. Two, those bones are loaded with nutrition.) Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, mix 1 cup water, 1 cup unsalted cashews, 1-2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (has cheesy flavor) and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Cook one 12- to 16-ounce box of small wheat or gluten-free pasta (like rotini or elbows) according to directions. Return pasta to cooking pot and add the salmon and the cashew sauce. Mix. Taste. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 large egg and 1 cup frozen sweet peas and mix again.

Put the mix into the prepared dish. Top with crumbled rice squares (the gluten-free cereal) and a light sprinkle of paprika. Bake 30 minutes and serve while warm. (Oddly enough, one daughter and I like to add ketchup on top for full-on comfort food.)

* Vegans and vegetarians: You know what to do. Leave the salmon out and, for vegans, substitute for the egg. 🙂 It’s still yummy. Blessings!

Slow Chicken Pot Pie (dairy free, gluten free)

This is a multi-step recipe. It makes the most sense to begin with the pastry, even though you won’t need it until the end. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine 1 cup gluten-free flour (wheat flour is just as good if you’re not gluten-free) with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 6 Tablespoons olive oil, 2 Tablespoons cold water and one egg yolk. Mix a bit with a spoon, then knead with your fingers until you have a smooth ball of dough. Cover and set aside at room temperature.

Next, put 1 1/2 cups unsalted cashews in your blender. Add 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon dried or powdered onion. (This combo gives this faux bechemel/white sauce some serious umami). Cover and set aside for mixing later.

Now, peel and thinly slice about 5 large carrots. Put in a wok or large skillet with 1 package frozen peas, 1 package frozen corn and about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds diced chicken breasts. Saute it all in olive oil until chicken is thoroughly cooked and carrots are fork tender.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil the inside of a large iron skillet or 9×9-inch Pyrex dish. Blend the cashew mix until creamy in texture, check the fluid level and add a bit of water if you have less than two cups. Pour the cashew cream into the vegetables and chicken and mix everything in the skillet/wok. Put the whole lot in the prepared skillet/Pyrex dish and smooth with the back of a spoon.

In a final step, tear off pieces of the pastry and flatten them into 1/4-inch thick patties with your hands. Place these all over the top of the chicken/veggies/cashew cream, covering as much of it as possible. If you manage to completely cover it, use a knife to cut a few steam vents. Bake the pie in the oven for about 20 minutes. Gluten-free pastry can burn very quickly. You’re going for “done,” not “golden brown.”

PASTA

On-Vacation Pasta Salad

Cook one 12-ounce box of pasta in generously salted water according to directions. Drain and set aside.

Halve one pint of grape tomatoes. Place in skillet with small amount of water or olive oil and cook until tomatoes are soft and a thick juice has developed. (Add more fluids during the cooking process if you are losing your sauce.) Season with salt and pepper.

Combine the pasta, the tomatoes and a tub of prepared hummus. Serve immediately with a simple salad. Done!

SALADS

Fruity Cabbage Slaw

Coarsely chop 2 cups each of green/white cabbage and colorfully-skinned apples such as Gala or Fuji (leaving peels on). Add one cup loosely packed black raisins and toss until well combined.

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup mayonnaise (vegan or otherwise), 2 Tablespoons apple-cider vinegar and 1 Tablespoon white sugar. Mix until smooth.

Add dressing to the cabbage and fruit mixture and toss until lightly coated. Serve immediately or refrigerate no more than a few hours. Top with a few handfuls of walnut pieces just before serving.

Spring-Forward Salad

Rinse your greens (I used about six cups of red-leaf lettuce and flat-leaf parsley, which serves four to six) and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. Tear them into bite-sized pieces (removing tough stems) and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add any other vegetables or fruit that you are using, chopped into bite-sized bits. (I used red peppers.)

Add 2-3 cups prepared quinoa (either pre-cooked or cooked and cooled if you are cooking it yourself).

In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine 4 Tablespoons olive oil, the juice of one lemon, 1 Tablespoon honey (agave nectar for vegans), 1 teaspoon Dijon or stone-ground mustard, 1 teaspoon ground pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt and one garlic clove (finely minced).

Whisk the dressing with a fork. Immediately pour it into the salad bowl and toss lightly, until all is well coated.

Top each serving with 2 tablespoons chopped nuts of your choice. (I picked unsalted cashews). Add a smoothie (see my recipe archive for the vegan World’s Best Smoothie) and you’re golden — healthy, spring-light and out the door.

SAUCES

Al-faux-do Sauce (vegan cheese)

1 1/2 cups unsalted cashews, water, 1-2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast*

Put the cashews in a blender. Just barely cover with water and let soak for at least one hour. Just before serving, add the nutritional yeast and blend at high speed until thick and creamy.

Use it anywhere you need heavy cream or a cheesy sauce. Throw in a whole bunch of basil before blending and you’ve got yourself a tasty pesto.

* Nutritional yeast can be found in most grocery stores’ health food section. It is a cheesy-tasting supplement vegans use to get certain vitamins into their diet. In spite of looking exactly like fish food, it’s also great on popcorn or anywhere you would normally use parmesan.

MacGyver Chocolate Sauce

This recipe is entirely about proportions. For enough sauce to provide a topping for four-to-six servings of fresh fruit, put 1 cup semi-sweet or dairy-free chocolate chips into a Pyrex dish (like a measuring cup). Pour in dairy or nut milk (I prefer cashew milk) until top of milk/nut milk is just below the top of the chocolate. Microwave 45 seconds to one minute.

Test for doneness by stirring for 30 seconds. If you have reached the proper temperature, the morsels and milk will combine into a smooth, creamy sauce the texture of mayonnaise.

This base can be used as is (cool to room temperature for fresh fruit) for a topping or dip. If you want a glaze, add a little more milk/nut milk. If you want frosting, add powdered sugar and softened butter/vegan substitute and mix with an electric mixer until you have the desired consistency. If you want a drink, make the base first, then add enough milk/nut milk to get a drinkable texture and stir thoroughly. Drink this hot or cold, only adding sugar if you absolutely must.

Summer-Sun Vinaigrette

Combine 4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tablespoon honey, the juice of one small lemon, 1 finely minced garlic clove, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon dijon mustard. Let the mix sit at room temp while you’re prepping whatever it is you’re serving. When you’re ready, whisk the sauce mix with a fork until well combined and immediately apply.

This vinaigrette is yummy over quinoa, which can be kind of bland and gritty if not dressed in something oily. It is also wonderful over vegetables and salad. Other possibilities are as a marinade for grilling or as a pasta sauce. It’s not a great dipping sauce for bread as the ingredients rapidly separate out if they’re not coating something.

Now that I think about it, this is technically not a “vinaigrette” as I removed the vinegar from the original recipe and punched up the lemon juice. If you’re a name purist and like lots of tang, add a splash of cider vinegar. 🙂

SIDES

Souped-up Rice

Puree one cup of leftover soup. (Vegan butternut, vegetable and lentil soups are great choices as they puree well and there is no dairy to scald.) Put the soup and about 1 1/2 cups of water* in a sauce pan. Bring to boil.

Add 1 1/2 cups rinsed jasmine rice, cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat, let rest five minutes and then fluff with a fork. Taste. Add a bit of salt and pepper if needed.

*The thicker the soup puree, the more water you will need for the rice to cook properly. Experiment. If the water/soup mix looks too thick at the start, add a bit more water and increase the cooking time. Check as the liquid cooks out to make sure your rice is not burning on the bottom of the pan.

Speedy Lenten Latkes

While many latke recipes call for grated potatoes, I like to start with a base of peel-on mashed potatoes. There’s more fiber, a hint of color and no food processor or grater to clean.

Cut about 2 pounds red-skinned potatoes into chunks (removing any bad spots) and place in a large sauce pan. Cover with water, bring to boil and simmer until potatoes are soft.

Drain water. Mash potatoes with 1/2 cup mayonnaise (vegan or non vegan), 2 eggs (substitute with a bit more mayo if you are vegan), 1 yellow onion (finely diced), 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1 cup of bread crumbs (use crushed rice-square cereal if you’re gluten free).

Form into latke patties about the size of a deck of cards as you go. For the best browning results, pre-heat a cast-iron skillet, add about 1/4 inch oil (coconut if you’re ketoing; canola is also fine). Fry the patties on medium-low heat for about 4 minutes or until their bottoms are golden brown. Flip and fry the other side.

Line a holding plate with paper towels to absorb oil. Add more paper towels between layers of latkes. Add more oil to your cooking pan as needed.

Eat while piping hot, but save any leftovers in the freezer to thicken a future batch of soup.

SNACKS/LUNCHES

Peppery Pinwheels

Allow 2-3 Tablespoons of cream cheese (dairy or vegan) and one tortilla (the rectangular ones are the easiest to use, the colorful ones are the prettiest) to come to room temperature. Finely dice two mini sweet peppers of different colors. (At Christmastime, use full-size red and green peppers and up the amount of cheese and tortillas to make a whole tray of pinwheels for a party!)

Spread the cream cheese evenly over the tortilla, as far out to the edges as you can manage. Sprinkle the pepper bits all over the cheese. Roll the lot into a tube, secure it with a tie or wrap with waxed paper, and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. When chilled, cut the tube into 1/2 inch slices. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until serving the slices flat to show off their pin-wheeliness.

So cute. So easy. And, the variations are endless. If you don’t have peppers handy, throw on some raisins, diced dates, craisins, diced dried apricots etc. Or, if you don’t have cream cheese in the house, substitute hummus dotted with raisins and grated carrots. Or use nut butter and something fruity.

As long as the tube is properly chilled before slicing, the pinwheels should stick together nicely on their own. If you are having a party, or you are a bento ninja, skewer with pretty wooden or reusable toothpicks. Enjoy!

Homemade Kettle Corn

Place a large, heavy-bottomed kettle on a stove burner. Place 1-2 Tablespoons high-heat oil (such as canola or coconut) in the bottom and swirl to coat. Add 1 Tablespoon popcorn kernels per person.

Turn the heat to medium high. Put on the lid and put a glove-style pot holder on each hand. When the first kernels start to pop, lift the kettle off the burner and vigorously shake it from side to side (not up and down) to redistribute the kernels that aren’t yet popped. Make sure to hold the lid down while you are shaking. Put the kettle back on the burner. Repeat the shaking maneuver every 30 to 60 seconds until the popping slows down to almost nothing.

Turn off the heat. When the popping entirely stops, open the lid away from your face. (The steam will be hot.)

Distribute popcorn into individual bowls and let people top as desired. The oil from the kettle provides some flavor. I like to add nutritional yeast flakes and a tiny bit of salt to my bowl. A cinnamon-sugar sprinkle is another good possibility, as is (for non-vegans) a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

SOUPS

Chicken Pot “Pie” in a Hurry

Put two quarts of cool water into a large soup kettle. Add 1 1/2 pounds whole chicken breasts(skinless; frozen or fresh). Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour. Walk away from the stove and do whatever else you have to do until 15 minutes of this hour are left.

As the hour approaches, peel and slice 3-4 carrots. Set aside. On the hour, use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken to a plate. Using kitchen scissors, snip into bite-sized pieces and return to the soup kettle. Add carrots, 1 cup frozen peas, 1 cup frozen corn and 12 oz. of macaroni. Simmer another 20 minutes or until carrots are fork tender.

Taste a spoonful of cooled broth. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme and 1/2 teaspoon powdered onion. Taste once more. Adjust seasonings if needed. Finish with a splash of nut milk for a bit of creaminess and serve while piping hot.

Frozen Asset Soup

This technique works for either stock or a hearty vegetable soup.

For stock, freeze clean veggie trimmings such as the stem ends of zucchini, carrot peels, potato peels and so on in a gallon freezer bag. When it is full, throw the lot in a stock pot, cover it with water and simmer for about an hour. Strain out the solids, add some salt and pepper and, voila, free veggie stock that can be refrozen in measured amounts.

For a full-on soup, freeze those odd little bits of sauce, cooked veggies or legumes that are left over after a meal. When the bag is full, simply add some veggie stock, some jarred pasta sauce and season to taste. “Free” soup.

One caution for either the stock or the soup: Avoid fruit and any vegetables that aren’t normally cooked; cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels spouts; and anything that contains pasta or grain. Such items will either do weird things to the end result’s texture or flavor.

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Peel, seed and coarsely chop a large butternut squash (the ones with larger, thicker necks have the most edible flesh). Put the squash (it’s OK to use frozen if you’re pressed for time or not handy with a chef’s knife) in a large soup kettle. Add four to six cups of vegetable or chicken stock. Cover with a lid and cook on high until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is fork tender.

While the squash is cooking, whip up one recipe of my Speedy Summer Corn. This recipe can be reached through my home page under the recipe button, or just saute 1 package frozen corn until some kernels are lightly browned and season with cumin and chili powder. Set aside.

Using an immersion blender, puree the squash and stock. Add one 16-ounce jar of good-quality salsa and stir. Add a bit of water if the soup is too thick. Taste. Add salt and pepper if desired. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with 1/2 cup of Speedy Summer Corn. Served with crusty bread and salad, this makes a satisfying meal on a cold weekend.

Split-pea Soup

After sorting to check for things like pebbles and stems, rinse and drain 1 package (usually about 1 lb.) of green split peas. Put peas, 4 cups veggie stock and 2 cups water in a large stock pot or crock pot.

Add 1 peeled carrot and 1 rib of celery, thinly sliced; two cloves garlic, minced; 1 bay leaf; and 1 teaspoon rosemary. On the stove, bring to a boil, then simmer until peas are mushy soft. (At least a couple of hours will be needed.) In a crockpot, cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8 hours.

Remove bay leaf. Sample the soup, then add salt and pepper to taste. Now, stir and check fluidity. Add a bit of water if needed to reach the consistency that you like. Before serving, briefly insert a wand blender and partially puree soup. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice just before ladling into bowls. Stir in between bowls as peas will settle. This makes 4-6 servings.

VEGGIES

African Sweet Potatoes

In a large bowl, mash together 5 cups cooked sweet potato or yam chunks*, 1 cup unsweetened coconut, 1/2 cup flour (wheat or gluten-free), 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup milk (dairy or nut), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/3 cup melted butter or vegan substitute. Spread in a buttered baking dish.

Top the mix with another 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup butter or vegan substitute cut into small chunks and 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until golden brown. If baking ahead, cool to room temperature, tightly cover and refrigerate until ready to rewarm.

* While boiling real yams or sweet potatoes is better, it is OK to use canned chunks if you need speed. Just thoroughly rinse and drain the sweet potatoes before mashing.

Binge-worthy Cauliflower

Stir fry 1 12-ounce package frozen cauliflower florets in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. When florets are fork tender, add between 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds. Stir to coat.

Serve warm over brown basmati rice or toss with whole-wheat spaghetti. Unsalted cashews make a nice topping. This recipe doubles well, but you might want to taste before doubling the spices and adjust according to your own preferences.

Dairy-free (and vegan) Pizza Toppings

Soffritto — This is basically an Italian version of finely chopped stir-fry. Carrots, celery and onions are traditional. I chop more coarsely (see top picture), cook whatever I have (garlic, kale etc.) in a bit of olive oil, and throw on a lot of Italian herbs at the end. If you pile this thickly enough over your sauce layer and sprinkle with nutritional yeast (which has a cheesy flavor) after baking, you won’t even be able to tell there isn’t dairy. (Freeze any leftover soffritto to use later in soup.)

Melted peppers and onions — In an iron skillet and on the lowest burner setting, cook colorful sweet peppers and yellow onions cut into strips in olive oil. Stir occasionally and keep cooking until veggies are so limp they appear to have “melted.” This may take as long as an hour. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste at the end. (This recipe can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for a week or frozen for later soup use.)

Pickled onions — You can do this the fast way, with a heated vinegar sauce, or the slow way. I like the slow way, which yields a crunchier onion. Chop one red onion into strips. Cover with apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar mixed with 1 teaspoon white sugar. Store in a tightly-sealed glass container at room temperature for 1 to 3 days. These onions should be added after baking for a bit of crunch, color and tang. (Leftovers can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for a week.)

Money-in-the-bank Potatoes

Gather about 10 tennis-ball sized potatoes (or the volume equivalent of another size) that have thin, relatively unblemished skins. (I prefer red-skinned.) Leaving the peels on (for better nutrition), cut potatoes into large chunks, removing any damaged areas. Boil in lightly salted water until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.

Here is where my technique diverges. To keep things vegan or dairy-free, add about one cup of a mayonnaise-like product, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and thoroughly mash. You want enough mayo-like stuff to eliminate a dry look, but not so much that you have goo.

This is your base. What can you do with it? Eat it as is as a side dish. Fill a pie plate with the potatoes, top it like a pizza and bake. Add all the ingredients of potato salad (I like dill, celery, corn, mustard and vinegar) and serve alongside picnic foods. Mix in breading (check out my recipe for Thrifty Gluten-Free Breading under the main menu bar), chopped onions and an egg or two (or the vegan equivalent) and fry in patties for instant latkes. Serve this with apple sauce for a quick, tasty meal.

I recently discovered a new twist when I had a leftover bonanza. Put the potato base in a kettle. Add my recipes for Speedy Summer Corn, Al-faux-do Sauce and a container of veggie broth and you have a ridiculously fast chowder. This soup plus a salad and a crusty loaf of bread makes it look like you really tried.

The potato base can be stored about 48 hours in the refrigerator, meaning you can easily use it as a side one day and as a very different meal the next. It can also be frozen and thawed quickly in the microwave, although we rarely can keep it around long enough to require such efforts.

Speedy Summer Corn

Stir fry one bag of frozen sweet corn kernels in olive oil until just tender. Remove from heat and toss with 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and salt and pepper to taste. For extra zip, add a squirt of freshly-squeezed lemon or lime juice.

This works as a side dish, mixed into a salmon/pasta salad or as a taco topping. It’s also great on top of quinoa as part of a power bowl. Round out the latter with some roasted peppers and tomatoes and some sort of a legume and you have an entire summer meal.