Thursday, December 4, 2008

Spaghetti Squash a la Allison

Believe it or not, I still cook. I haven't posted since September. School started then and honestly it has taken me this long to get my act together. Luckily, I have tons of pictures just waiting for me to tell all. All five of us, that is, but that isn't what is important, right?

I have a new favorite. Winter squash. I got tired of pasta with sauce. I thought it was time to expand our horizons. For our weekly pasta night, I've included spaghetti squash in the mix. I still make pasta of course. The boys aren't enamoured like I am. So, I make a small squash and bake it in the microwave. I added our favorite pasta sauce and greens. What is even better in this meal is that the greens are fresh from my garden.

To make squash....
Microwave for one minute.
Cut the squash in half and take out seeds.
Drizzle olive oil on the halves and some salt and pepper.
You can bake it for about half an hour until soft. You may also microwave for about 12 minutes or until soft.

For greens if you choose.
While the squash is baking, roughly chop about 6 leaves of your favorite greens. I have kale, cauliflower, and broccoli greens here
Saute with olive oil and a splash balsamic vinegar until just dark green. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the sauce.
I added some cannellini beans to mine.

Once the squash is done cooking, use a fork to pull the squash from the sides. Pour the sauce on top and add greens.

Dinner in about 30 minutes. It is so pretty you feel like you really accomplished something.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Spelt and Oat Pancakes

When I was a little girl my grandfather used to make me pancakes.
He used Bisquick and lots of butter. I always loved the crunchy edges of those silver dollar pancakes. It is amazing how such an event stays with you. I can still see myself standing next to him watching the pancakes begin to bubble on the griddle. I can still hear the sizzle of the butter as he flipped them over. That was the best part of course. The flip meant time to eat.

My little boy loves pancakes. I couldn't help but continue the crunchy edged pancake legacy. Whenever he asks for them he always says, "Make them crunchy, mom." While I do make his a bit crunchy, they aren't quite as decadent as what my grandfather made. These pancakes are vegan and wheat free to accommodate his wheat sensitivity. You can substitute wheat for the spelt and use real eggs if you wish.


3/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup quick oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 cup nondairy milk
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 flax "egg" made from 3 tbsp warm water and 1 tbsp ground flax seed

1. Prep the flax by adding the 3 tbsp warm water and 1 tbsp ground flax. Mix together in a small bowl and set aside for a bit.
2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
3. Combine all of the wet ingredients in a small bowl including the flax mixture. It will be thick by now.
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients until just mixed.
5. Cook desired amount on a griddle until bubbly and flip. I prefer silver dollar sized ones. To make them crunchy put a small pat of Earth Balance margarine on the griddle before adding the batter.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Play Dough Meets Modern Art

The Art of Play Dough

Who knew that a four year old could do so much with play dough. I've been making this for my boys for a decade now. It all started with the big boy. I'd make a double batch with multiple colors. Now I just make one batch with one or two colors. Let's face it. It all turns brown in 5 minutes. It dries out even faster. But it is so much better than the store bought stuff.

Tuesday I had a request for play dough from my little one and went to work right away. I went for bright orange. This is what came out of the morning of play. He meticulously placed each piece and painted the top with blue, yellow, and orange glitter paint. He was quite proud. The next day he soaked all of the pieces in a bowl of soapy water. I put two towels on the floor where he played and cleaned for 45 minutes.

I've been busy watching the Olympics and then the convention. I thought this could be my excuse for not posting in a while. Besides, who doesn't want to show off their kids talent?

Homemade Play Dough

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp oil
food coloring

Place all of the ingredients in a nonstick sauce pan. On medium/low heat begin stirring until the ingredients form a ball. Your kids will love this part because the food coloring makes your kid think you can do magic. My guys love it when I plop the dough on it. They both grab a pot holder and proceed to their art table and start to create.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Banana Cinnamon Coffee Cake


  • Big Boy gives two thumbs up

  • Little Boy loves the crumbles

  • My new favorite way to use bananas is to make a coffee cake. This idea was originally inspired by this, banana coffee cake from another blog, Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. My big boy isn't really fond of bananas, so this is a delicious way to get him to enjoy. I love this recipe but really missed having the crumble on the top. I decided to use this cinnamon coffee cake from
    "The Joy of Vegan Baking" and add bananas. This recipe is straight from the book. I used rice milk and whole wheat pastry flour.

    Cake ingredients
    1 cup (235 ml) non dairy milk
    1/3 cup (78 ml) canola oil
    1 tbsp (15 ml) white distilled vinegar
    1 cup (125 g) unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
    1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp ground ginger
    1/4 tsp salt

    Crumble ingredients
    3/4 cup (94 g) unbleached all- purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
    1/4 cup (50 g) granulated or brown sugar
    1 to 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 ground ginger
    14 tsp salt
    3/4 cup (115 g) chopped walnuts. Pecans and almonds work too.
    1/3 cup (78 ml) canola oil or nondairy butter, melted

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 C, or gas mark 4).
    Grease a 9 inch (23 cm) square baking dish or cake pan.

    To make the cake, combine the milk, oil, and vinegar in a bowl and set aside . In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Add the milk mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared baking dish.

    To make the crumble, in a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and nuts. Add the butter or oil, and use your hands to thoroughly work into the dry ingredients.

    Add the banana slices on top of the cake batter. Spoon the crumble on top of the batter and cover the entire area.

    Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    My New Toy

    I have a new toy. An energy efficient dishwasher. Not only does it have the "energy star" label, it holds lots more dishes and I don't have to run it daily. My old one sounded pathetic. I also found myself having to wash dishes to put them in the dishwasher. Yay for me.

    More food soon. I've been too busy watching the Olympics.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2008

    My Veggie Burger

    Grains and Beans Veggie Burger
    and Home Fries
    score: two thumbs up from big boy
    yum from little boy

    There is nothing like having a vegetarian kid who doesn't like vegetables. It makes you wonder why he wants to be vegetarian in the first place. He'll tell you he just doesn't want to eat animals. In the mean time, I'm left trying to sneak those darn veggies in. He loves veggie burgers, but buying them doesn't fit in the budget anymore.

    Over the last months, I have been working on making the perfect burger for the family. A perfect veggie burger for this family means lots of hidden veggies, beans, and grains.

    It seems like a lot of ingredients, I know. If you have a food processor the chopping of veggies takes no time at all. Plus, this makes a lot of burgers, over a dozen so you will be set for two weeks of burgers with the right planning.

    4 cups cooked short grain brown rice
    (2 cups raw cooked in 3 cups of water)
    2 cups roughly mashed black beans (kidney, adzuki, or red will work too)

    2 tsp canola oil
    1 carrot finely chopped
    1/2 medium onion finely chopped
    3 broccoli florets finely chopped
    1 small zucchini finely chopped
    1/2 red bell pepper finely chopped

    2 tsp smoked paprika
    2 tsp garlic granules
    2 tsp onion granules

    1/4 cup ground/finely chopped pecans (optional)
    3/4 cup bread crumbs
    1/4 cup quick oats

    1 tbsp ground flax
    3 tbsp warm water
    salt and pepper to taste
    Makes 12-14 burgers.

    Note: I separate half the mixture and store in the fridge for the following week. I simply heat the remaining burger mix up and add more flax (the amount mentioned above) before I shape the burgers into patties. I find they don't freeze well. So, if you are planning on making the whole batch you will need to double the amount of ground flax and water. You can always cut the above recipe in half if you prefer.

    1. Cook the rice.
    2. In a separate bowl mash the beans. You will want it to look like half the beans are mashed and the other is still whole.
    3. While the rice is cooking start processing the veggies. Warm a large skillet and add the oil. Process the carrots and onions. Add to the skillet.
    4. Process the zucchini , broccoli, and pepper and add to skillet.
    5. Saute the veggies until they are soft and fragrant.
    6. Add the spices and mix well.
    7. Add all of the dry ingredients and mix well.
    8. The flax seeds are what I use as an egg replacer to bind the burger.
    9. When the rice is done preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the rice into the veggie mixture in a large mixing bowl. You may need to let it cool a bit. It mixes better with your hands.
    9. Time to make the patties. Lightly oil a baking sheet. To get a perfect circle I use a large circular cookie cutter. Press a heaping 1/3 cup of the burger mixture into the cookie cutter. You can also use your hands to make patties if you don't have the cookie cutter. Press the burgers directly onto the baking sheet.
    10. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes. Flip and bake another 12 minutes. Flip one last time and cook another 10 minutes.

    Home Fries
    score: sideways thumbs up from big boy
    yum from little boy

    If you don't happen to have fries in the freezer ready to make your life easy you can make these while all of the baking is going on.

    3 large potatoes chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
    2 tbsp canola oil
    sprinkle of smoked paprika
    garlic granules
    onion granules
    salt and pepper to taste

    1. Chop the potatoes.
    2. Heat the oil in a large skillet.
    3. Cover and cook on medium heat until soft.
    4. Once the potatoes have softened, uncover and add the spices. Saute the potatoes until they are crispy on the sides.

    Total cooking time about 1 hour
    The burger buns were made with a wonderful recipe from Vegan Dad

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    Tristan's Pasta

    T-Licious Pasta

    My big boy is my pasta maniac. He likes any kind of pasta providing it has balsamic vinegar and olive oil on it. I make sure to have some on hand all of the time. I've been pushing the boundaries lately by adding garbanzo beans or white beans. He has taken to adding olives, nondairy rice cheese, garlic granules, and pepper. He says he is o.k. with the beans. Lucky for me the beans have a really mild flavor and absorb the balsamic vinegar he so loves. His pasta is a simplified version of Helane's Pasta. I omit the tomatoes, vinegar, and fresh garlic.

    1 1/2 cups of favorite pasta already cooked
    2 tsp olive oil
    2 tsp balsamic vinegar
    4 kalamata olives sliced
    sprinkle of granulated garlic
    sprinkle of pepper
    1/8 cup nondairy cheeze shreds (e.g. Soyco "Rice Cheese')

    I started adding spinach this weekend. I took 5 small leaves, and I mean small, of baby spinach and finely chopped it as if it were basil. Then I threw it in. "Mom, I'm not really fond of the spinach." After a brief discussion of how minuscule the pieces were he agreed to eat it.

    Here is the crutch: He loves pesto pasta, but doesn't want pieces of green anything in his food. Now that he is 11 I'm hoping to expand his horizons. I know, you're thinking "Pesto is green". Go figure. Like I said, picky boys. I haven't started on the four year old.

    Welcome to My Blog Helane's Pasta

    Helane's (aka Mom's) Pasta Salad

    My mom practically begs me to make this salad for her. She may randomly call and say," If i buy all of the ingredients, will you make this for me?" My response - "Always and with pleasure."

    I started making this pasta about 10 years ago. I found the recipe in "Vegetarian Times" magazine. I've since lost the copy of the magazine but the basics are etched in memory:

    One bag spiral pasta (12-16oz)

    6 tomatoes cut into skinny wedges and seeds removed
    2 cloves garlic
    12 basil leaves cut into slivers
    1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
    1/2 Can of cannellini or great northern beans drained

    3 tbsp olive oil
    3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    2 tsp of olive brine (this is the juice from the olives)
    salt and pepper to taste

    Follow cooking directions for the pasta. While pasta is cooking start cutting up the tomatoes. I cut them in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut small wedges from the halves and add to large bowl. You'll need a big bowl because after the pasta is done you'll be adding all of the other ingredients. Chop the basil into strips. Take the leaves and stack several up on top of each other. Roll the stack of leaves like you're rolling up a burrito. Now cut the leaves. This will create small slivers. Add basil to bowl. Mince the garlic and slice olives and add to other ingredients in bowl. Finally, add beans, olive oil, vinegar, and brine. This can marinate while the pasta finishes. Drain the pasta and rinse to cool a bit. Now add the pasta and stir. Salt and pepper to taste.