Easy Mango Cilantro Sauce

by Sarah on January 28, 2015 · 0 comments

It has sometimes been a challenge trying to balance The Professor’s need for simplicity in his daily meals and my need to experiment in the kitchen.IMG_6105 (1280x851)

And although my semester schedule means we eat dinner separately more often than not, I still try to cook meals that will keep both of us happy.IMG_6097 (1280x851)

Simple, yet creative inspiration struck when I saw this Mahi Mahi with Cilantro Chutney.mahi_cilantro

I didn’t have kiwi, but I had (frozen) mango…

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…and I didn’t have time to more than eyeball my measurements and use my taste buds to determine the right amounts.IMG_6104 (1280x853)

Either way…paired with steamed (yes, in a bag) sugar snap peas and some baked Jamaican Jerk seasoned (yes, previously frozen) mahi mahi made for simple, home cooked, satisfyingly interesting deliciousness.*

*But I did serve The Professor’s sauce on the side, just in case. :) IMG_6110 (1280x853)

Easy Mango Cilantro Sauce

(Makes about 3/4 cup)

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup fresh (or previously frozen) mango
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • dash of salt + pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food chopper.

Process until smooth, adding water if necessary.

Serve over Jamaican or Mexican spiced fish or other protein.


I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time.IMG_6217 (1280x853)

When I heard about the Recipe Redux partnership with Cabot Creamery Cheese, I knew there wasn’t any way I WOULDN’T participate.


If only because a pile of free Vermont cheddar in the fridge would make me the best girlfriend ever…IMG_6126 (1280x852)

The fact that it is lactose free is just a (major) bonus [for him AND me (and my GI tract)* ;) ]

*I’m fairly certain I can no longer win the contest due to this reference to the effects of lactose troubles. And the upside-down package of cheese in the photo above.IMG_6146 (1280x853)

The goal? Create healthier snacks for Super Bowl or movie awards season using Cabot Cheese (which The Professor likes to pronounce as rhyming with “although”).

I’m not sure where this idea came from, except that people love dips for football games. And people love cheesy dips. But spinach and artichoke dip is perhaps a bit (big) play(ed) out?IMG_6204 (1280x853)

Also, I had a giant Costco-sized bag of broccoli florets purchased for no apparent reason sitting in my fridge. So there was that.IMG_6135 (1280x853)

The key ingredient here is tofu, the silken variety (which, to me, looks a bit like mozzarella cheese?) which adds a low-calorie creaminess and extra punch of protein to what you’re already getting from the cheese.IMG_6156 (1280x853)

It’s mild flavor doesn’t take away from the sharp distinctiveness of the Vermont cheddar at all, nor the delicious savoriness of roasted (versus steamed) broccoli.IMG_6163 (1280x853)

Healthifying dishes doesn’t have to be complicated.

The key is to use a small amount of the strongest tasting, full-bodied ingredients (like Cabot cheese) and extract equally strong flavors through careful pairing and attention to the cooking process.

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Also I think cheese helps.

In pretty much every situation. 

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Roasted Broccoli & (Cabot) Cheddar Cheese Dip

(Makes 4 cups)

  • 8 cups broccoli florets
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 16-oz. package silken tofu
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cabot Vermont Sharp Cheddar Cheese (or any other sharp variety)
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  • pita chips, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray broccoli with olive oil cooking spray and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast 15 minutes, covered, at 400 degrees. Remove cover and roast 10 minutes more, until broccoli is tender.
  4. Combine broccoli, tofu, 1 cup cheese, mustard, and garlic powder in a food processor.
  5. Process until smooth.
  6. Scoop cheese dip into a casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake 10-15 minutes more, until cheese is melted and bubbly.*
  8. Serve with pita chips.

*Be careful not to let it overcook…tofu does not stay creamy if to well cooked. Cheese may not brown.IMG_6209 (1280x853)


Pad Thai Broth with Bean Sprouts

by Sarah on January 23, 2015 · 0 comments

So the uncorking*–after a period of time in back-of-the-cabinet confinement that I don’t care to disclose at this juncture--of my tamarind concentrate has led to a massive fixation on the sour sweet flavor, and, consequently, all foods even anywhere approaching the classification of Asian.

*There was no actual cork.IMG_5908 (1280x853)

(Yes, I was responsible for the dinner choice during The Bachelor last week.)IMG_20150114_195813

There was the Tamarind Glazed Mahi Mahi inspired by this recipealthough I used it as a marinade because once I made the actual glaze it was a bit of a salt bombIMG_20150111_194028

–accompanied by the Health magazine recipe for Roasted Vegetables in Miso Vinaigrette (To which I wanted to add tamarind , but restrained myself. This time.)IMG_20150116_194445

And, of course, the shredded local brussels sprouts in an ginger orange tamarind broth that turned out even better than I guessed.*

*And without the normal GI issues of eating a similarly massive quantity of actual sprouts. Just saying.IMG_20150115_175958

Then, my many googling attempts led me to the realization that tamarind is a key flavor in Phat Thai (but maybe not Pad Thai, Americanized?)IMG_5911 (1280x853)

Inspired by this recipe  for Phat Thai, specifically the Tamarind Sauce, I visited my good friend Mr. Chen (who, in addition to providing the Chinese take-out shown above, has a small little Asian market in his purveyance) for a giant bottle of fish sauce, a heap of bean sprouts, and some fresh cilantro.IMG_5905 (1280x853)

Then, I got to work.IMG_5875 (1280x853)

And even I can’t believe how terrifically Thai-rifically  I managed to convey the flavor of Pad Thai into a broth.

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The broth is the star, and a vehicle for perhaps anything you would like. I stuck with bean sprouts because that’s what I had for simplicity’s sake, but shrimp or tofu would also be amazing.

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Perhaps I should be embarrassed by the quantity I can consume in one sitting.

But I’m really, really, not.

Pad Thai Broth with Bean Sprouts

  • 1 cup very finely chopped onion*
  • 2-3 Tbsp. very finely chopped fresh ginger (about 2″ from a fresh piece)*
  • 1 giant clove of garlic, minced*
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. tamarind concentrate
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut flour (or 1 Tbsp. peanut butter)
  • 2-3 tsp. chili paste (sambal oolek)
  • 4-5 cups fresh bean sprouts, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • tofu, shrimp, or other protein of your choice (optional)
  • peanuts, fresh cilantro, scallions, for garnish (optional)

*I put the onion, garlic, and ginger into my mini-chopper for a SUPER fine chop, which I recommend.

  1. Saute onion, garlic, and ginger in a bit of vegetable oil over medium heat in a large stock or soup pot.
  2. Once beginning to soften and become fragrant, add water.
  3. Stir in vinegar, tamarind, sugar, peanut flour (or butter), and chili paste.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes to help flavors develop.
  6. Stir in cilantro and bean sprouts. Cook until softened.
  7. Just before serving, add lime juice and optional garnishes.

Note: I think this would taste great with tofu or shrimp, which could be added after the bean sprouts.




Waiting until the last minute isn’t always a bad thing.IMG_6045 (1280x853)

So maybe I forgot about The Recipe Redux until the reminder I conveniently set on my phone warned me I had less than 48 hours to think of something.

So I checked the theme, and I thought of something.

And then I thought of something else. :) IMG_5960 (1280x853)

An tongue-in-cheek anti-resolution to “Start Smoking In the New Year,” this theme called for either smoke or spice.

How about both?recipereduxJan2015

Behold, the almighty chipotle in adobo.IMG_5979 (1280x854)

Smoky, spicy, and a slow-building heat that proves that where there’s smoke, there is also fire.IMG_6018 (1280x853)

Chipotle pairs beautifully with sweet, fruity flavors…so an orange chipotle syrup of sorts works wonderfully as a glaze for roasted local cabbage.IMG_6062 (1280x852)

If you want to get crazy (and don’t I always) you can add smoked paprika and cumin to the cabbage prior to roasting, amplifying the full-bodied smokiness.IMG_5988 (1280x853)

Don’t forget the cilantro.IMG_6059 (1280x853)

You need a little bright light shining through the fog.

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Smoky Orange Chipotle Roasted Cabbage

(Serves only one, if you are me…but probably four people in a normal situation)

  • 6-8 cups chopped green cabbage (1 small head)
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • few shakes of black pepper and cumin
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. adobo sauce (from canned chipotles in adobo)
  • 1/2 chipotle pepper, finely minced
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring orange juice, adobo sauce, and chipotle to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened.
  3. Combine cabbage, coconut oil, garlic, and spices.
  4. Spread cabbage mixture onto a wide-lipped baking sheet.
  5. Roast 15-20 minutes until softened and browned.
  6. Pour orange chipotle syrup over cabbage slowly while stirring, adding just enough to coat (but not soak).


10-Minute Pumpkin Vindaloo Soup

by Sarah on January 15, 2015 · 5 comments

The evening after my comps, all I wanted to do was drink.

Ha. Actually, all I wanted to do was lie on the couch and watch Top Chef and The Taste on DVR, but The Professor wanted to take me out…and so out we went to eat, and yes, drink. (From a tiny decanter, no less.)IMG_20150108_201051 (1)

My favorite of our four “shared” plates was the Shrimp Vindaloo. Although I was expecting something richer and creamier, the simple, Indian-spiced broth was absolutely delicious, warming, and I couldn’t get the subtlety out of my mind (and tastebuds).IMG_20150109_174835

So I threw a bunch of spices in the food processor with some pumpkin puree I already had in the fridge…making sure to add plenty of garlic and some white wine vinegar (as in my “what IS vindaloo, really?” research told me that name comes from Portuguese words for garlic and wine, later substituted with vinegar).IMG_5829 (1280x853)

To make things a little crazy, I used this Cocozia Coconut Water instead of broth…

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….which made for a super light, bright addition to the overall taste.

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I know The Professor hesitates in the face of any “ethnic” spices or seasoning, unless that ethnicity is Italian, but  his good manners helped him eat his whole bowl.IMG_5854 (1280x853)

I, however, wanted to eat my bowl AND his, but no worries, as it takes all of 5 minutes to make (with another 2 or 3 for actually finding all the spices in your cabinet of course).IMG_5866 (1280x853)

Pumpkin Vindaloo Soup

  • 1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 shakes of cinnamon :)
  • pinch of cloves
  • salt + pepper (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut water (I used Cocozia)
  1. Combine pumpkin, garlic, vinegar and spices in a food processor.
  2. Process until smooth.
  3. Add coconut water 1/4 cup at a time until soup reaches your desired consistency. (You may need more than is listed; I like a thick bisque consistency.)

Bell Pepper Paprikash

by Sarah on January 12, 2015 · 1 comment

Some of the veggies in the freezer that I attempted to creatively use up while The Professor was away happened to be sliced bell peppers from the Costco-sized bag of fresh ones that even a Veggie Monster like me couldn’t handle consuming before heading up to New York for the holidays.IMG_5622 (1280x853)

For some reason, I also developed an obsessive craving for egg noodles while he was gone…and I guess that put me in mind of stroganoff…IMG_5647 (1280x853)

….which then led me (Hungary-ly*) to paprikash.

*Hee. Hee. Hee.IMG_5645 (853x1280)

And then,of course, I found myself staring at the sweet potato noodles from a magazine article I’d ripped out…IMG_5620 (1280x853)

…and ended up attempting some quick-blanched butternut ones.IMG_5655 (1280x853)

(Cork) Screw^ the egg noodles.

^Funny, because they resemble corkscrews. :)

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The kefir doesn’t blend quite as well as sour cream has done in the past for me…but the sauce was the epitome of deliciousness anyway.IMG_5651 (1280x853)

Good thing I still have half a bad of egg noodles in the pantry.IMG_5661 (1280x852)

And I’m Hungary.*

*Still funny.IMG_5665 (1280x853)

Bell Pepper Paprikash

[Serves 2-4]

  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups bell peppers, thinly sliced (about 2 large peppers)
  • 1 15.oz can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 4 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 cup plain kefir (I used Siggi’s filmjolk.)
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • egg–or other–noodles, for serving
  1. Saute onion and garlic in a smidge of olive oil over medium-low heat until softened.
  2. Add peppers to the pan and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Stir tomatoes and paprika into the pan and bring to a simmer.
  4. Cook until peppers are tender.
  5. Reduce heat.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix together some of the sauce with the kefir, whisking very well.
  7. Add kefir mixture to the pan, whisking quickly to incorporate.
  8. Adjust seasoning to taste,
  9. Serve over noodles and garnish with parsley.

When The Professor’s Away….

by Sarah on January 9, 2015 · 1 comment

As you should have figured out by now, cooking with The Professor in mind can occasionally involve attempts at what I might call “tofu trickery” or perhaps SOY-cery? :) IMG_5816 (1280x853)

It’s not that I have to hide things from him, I just get to be a little bit more open with the vegetable-based proteins when he’s not around. (Like the Thai Tofu Scramble I ate perhaps three times…)IMG_5268 (1280x853)

I had to stay here in Alabama for much of winter break, as a new class to prep for this semester and my comprehensive exam (yesterday!) meant a LOT of work…and only a little play for me, and many more days away for him.

And although I joked with him that I’d already broken the tempeh out of the freezer before I’d even taken him to the airport…IMG_5456 (1280x853)

…I also made some things (pasta! butternut squash!) that he probably would have been sad about missing out on.IMG_5718 (1280x853)

(Like the Miso Glazed Carrots & Parsnips he usually loves).IMG_5540 (1280x853)

What else only seems to happen around here while he’s gone?IMG_5566 (1280x853)

(Aside from me wearing the same outfit four days in a row?)*


^I do that even when he IS here.IMG_5548 (1280x853)

Well, when the package of tuna steaks has THREE, the lone fish had to wait until there’s a lone woman around to season and bake it. And of course, I get to eat ALL the Brussels sprouts I can handle…IMG_5534 (1280x853)

Lots of egg dinners. LOTS.IMG_5611 (1280x853)

Creative attempts to use up every vegetable in the freezer.IMG_5633 (1280x853)

Including liberal consumption of mushrooms…which I have to leave out if cooking for two.IMG_5689 (1280x853)

Eating salad straight from the container–no need to even try and share.IMG_5754 (1280x853)

Lots of kitchen experiments with no pressure. The only one who suffers is ME.

(This Bell Pepper Paprikash with Butternut Noodles happened to turn out great though.)IMG_5675 (1280x853)

I got to make  racket processing nut butter at all hours of the day and night (Hello, honey roasted almond peanut butter…) which timed itself perfectly with the strange development of eating multiple bowls of oatmeal, bananas, and nut butter throughout the day.

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And of course, the tofu.

Obviously.IMG_5558 (1280x853)

As for the Lucky Charms and Cap’n Crunch he left behind, I swear I don’t know what happened to them.



Vegan Stuffed Peppers

by Sarah on January 7, 2015 · 5 comments

Sometimes a “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.” policy is OK.IMG_5810 (1280x853)

Like when you are a vegan-leaning, weird flavor concocting, “let’s just see what happens,” type of cook, and you serve a lot of meals to a may-be-afraid-of-seasoning, back-to (or never left)-basics, culinary skeptic.IMG_5792 (1280x853)

The Professor never ASKED what was in the stuffed bell peppers.IMG_5783 (1280x853)

And so I didn’t feel the need to TELL him about the TVP Sausage Crumbles and extra yellow squash mixed in to that brown rice.IMG_5790 (1280x853)

He ate all of the filling. All of it.IMG_5824 (1280x853)

With only two scoops of Romano cheese on top.

(That, my friends, is what we call success around here.)

Vegan Stuffed Peppers

(Serves 2)

  • 2 bell peppers, color of your choice
  • 1 14.5-oz. can no-salt-added tomato sauce (there may be extra for you, but I LOVE sauce)
  • 1 tsp. favorite Italian seasoning blend
  • 1/2 recipe TVP Sausage Crumbles (prepared)
  • 2/3 cup brown rice (measured dry)*, and cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 cup yellow squash or zucchini, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • salt pepper, dried thyme, ground cumin (all to taste)

*It may be easier to make 3/4 cup, but more rice never hurt anyone. Except for birds after weddings, maybe.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut tops off of bell peppers horizontally, and remove any seeds or white parts (whatever they are called).
  3. In a small bowl, stir together tomato sauce and Italian seasoning.
  4. Saute onion and garlic medium-low heat until softened.
  5. Add TVP sausage and squash and cook until sausage is lightly browned.
  6. Stir in brown rice and about 1/4 cup tomato sauce.
  7. Remove from heat and adjust seasoning to taste.
  8. Spoon remaining tomato sauce into the bottom of a baking pan.
  9. Place bell peppers into the pan, standing up.
  10. Cover pan and cook 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until peppers are soft and rice is warmed through.
  11. When serving, spoon tomato sauce over the top of each pepper.

There is just no eloquent name for this dish.IMG_5718 (1280x853)

It was based on a VegNews recipe for Creamy Harvest Pasta that popped up on my phone browser…but I have no idea how or why it appeared there.IMG_5486 (1280x853)

All I DID know was that I had all the ingredients to make it..and to maybe make it better.IMG_5515 (1280x853)

I wasn’t sure what harvest they were referring to, as I think corn comes around at a different time that sweet potatoes and squash.

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Of course, when you “harvest” from your freezer, corn is ALWAYS in season.

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But I think the most interesting part of this pasta is what the creamy sauce is made from…so a wordy, stumbling title is what you get.IMG_5721 (1280x853)

The pasta goes down MUCH easier than its moniker.

Pasta with Creamy Sweet Potato, Butternut & Corn Sauce

(Serves 2)

  • 4 oz (2-servings) whole wheat farfalle (or other favorite pasta)
  • 1 cup peeled butternut squash, chopped/cubed
  • 1/2 cup peeled sweet potato, chopped/cubed
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rubbed sage
  • pinch of allspice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except almond milk and vegetable broth, in a baking dish.
  3. Bake, covered, 35-40 minutes, until squash and sweet potatoes are tender.
  4. Allow to cool, at least slightly.
  5. Combine vegetable mixture with almond milk and vegetable broth in a blender or food processor. Process until creamy and smooth.
  6. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  7. Bring sauce to a simmer over medium heat.
  8. Serve over pasta, once prepared.

The Happiest of Christmases

by Sarah on December 29, 2014 · 2 comments

In the past ten years or so, I’ve had a number of varying combinations of family, friends, or even employers, gathered around me at Christmas, so why NOT bring together The Professor, his parents, and Mama Smart? Why not?photo 3~2 (1)

After I got over the potential weirdness of the whole Meet The Parents meets Christmas Vacation, it actually turned into one of the happiest Christmases on record.

 And not just because I was put in charge of the sweet potato casserole.IMG_20141226_173553

Not only did no one notice the lack of added butter or sugar, they actually seemed to PREFER it in the less rich, you-can-actually-taste-the-potatoes form.*

*And yes, I had to have a separate roasted sweet since I probably would have eaten all of the casserole by myself otherwise.IMG_20141225_181958

Plus, we had plenty of sugar for dessert…IMG_20141225_182640

…and snacks. (Hello, Honey Butter Chex Mix, it is SO nice to meet you….and those Salt & Pepper Peanuts that you arrived with.)IMG_20141226_135959

The Professor’s parents were gracious and inviting and as hospitable as always. (And I’m not just saying that because they still “stalk [my] blog.”)IMG_20141225_103958

Between the free range chicken they bought especially for me, to the special vegetarian ziti–light on the cheese–on Christmas Eve (with a separate bowl of extra sauce placed right in front of me on the table)…


…or the Ginger Gold Apples and amazingly delicious pears purchased simply because I consume more fruit than they have probably ever seen I couldn’t have felt more at home.IMG_20141224_133148

I even barged into the kitchen to make my own breakfast for lunch.IMG_20141223_145215

Also, they take me to Wegman’s. So they prime me for happiness.IMG_20141223_130655

It really wasn’t all about the food. I actually took pictures of PEOPLE. :)

Family, laughter, love, and joy….and all those happy Christmas feelings.IMG_20141224_141537_510

That’s what it was about.

[And owls. Those, too.]IMG_20141226_173934