creamy vegetable pasta bake with lots of green veggies

Creamy Vegetable Pasta Bake with lots of green veggies

I so enjoyed the Creamy Vegetable Pasta Bake I made recently, both because it was delicious and because I could pull a serving out of the freezer and have an instant warm meal. When it was gone, I didn’t imagine making it again so soon, but it’s a great way to use 4 cups of milk, zucchini and onion that I picked up without a real plan, and frozen broccoli and spinach for a dose of green veggies.

I followed the same basic recipe from, with a few adjustments.

creamy vegetable pasta bake with lots of green veggies hot out of the oven

Process notes

  • used 2 1/2 tsp granulated garlic instead of fresh garlic
  • left out the carrots
  • used 1/2 lb frozen broccoli and 1/2 lb frozen chopped spinach
  • used 32 freshly milled soft white wheat flour instead of all purpose flour
  • reduced noodles to 3/4 lb dried elbow pasta
  • sprinkled 6 oz shredded low moisture part skim mozzarella
  • used 9×12 baking dish
  • once it was assembled, I covered it with plastic and refrigerated overnight (I was using the oven for homemade yogurt)
  • the next morning, baked at 375° for about 55 min.


Baking the casserole after letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight worked out just fine. After it cooled, I divided it into smaller containers and popped in the freezer.

The texture is really good, although a tiny bit watery. The amount of creamy sauce is great, and I love having all of the vegetables. The flavor is on the bland side, and definitely needs some salt and pepper. I think it would be improved by using fresh garlic instead of the granulated. And I missed the carrots that were in the last batch.

It’s not an exciting dish, but it’s filling and comforting, and having frozen meals at the ready is always appreciated.

creamy vegetable pasta bake

Creamy vegetable pasta bake

creamy vegetable pasta bake

Lately I’ve become rather hooked on maximizing grocery store savings. It’s like a game, seeing how I can get the most for my money, and it helps that I focus on stocking my pantry with staples that help me cook from scratch. When the grocery store had 1-lb bags of pasta on sale for $.49 each, I stocked up on a variety of shapes and have been brainstorming all the fun ways I can use them. has loads of doable, healthy, and frugal recipes (my Mealtime board is now loaded with pins from this site). It was really hard to choose which to make first! I started with one that aligned best with my freezer and pantry items and adapted it with my ingredients.


Vegetable Alfredo Pasta Bake from

Process notes



  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 oz frozen peas, cooked and drained
  • 12 oz frozen broccoli, cooked and drained
  • 6 oz frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
  • salt and pepper


  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c hard white wheat flour
  • 4 c whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • 3 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Pasta and topping:

  • 1 lb shell pasta
  • 3 oz shredded gouda

I don’t like adding frozen vegetables to a hot, oily pan because of the sizzle and splatter, so I opted to cook my veggies first in a small Micro-Cooker vegetable steamer that goes in the microwave. Except for the carrots, which I sauteed in the oil.


Oh, yum. This is a great balance of flavor and textures. Not too cheesy, not too saucy, plenty of vegetables. The gouda on top is really special. And after a few years of only eating homemade pasta at home, it’s a treat to have the convenience of dried pasta on hand.

I actually think I could skip adding the cheese to the sauce next time, and just go with the cheese on top. Increasing the spices and seasonings in the sauce would be good, perhaps adding dried minced onion and garlic (or fresh, if I have some).

I love the way this casserole turned out — and perhaps even more I love that there are seven more servings of it in the freezer, ready to be pulled out for an easy meal here and there.

Pickled cabbage

Cabbage was on sale recently and normally I’d just get a modestly-sized one, but the only option was giant-sized. The first half went into a simple cabbage salad, and for the second half I felt like trying something new. And now that I have some nice quart-sized jars a neighbor gave me, I’m obsessed with the idea of pickling.


Pickled Cabbage Salad from Smitten Kitchen

Process notes

  • used 1/2 large cabbage
  • included 3 shredded carrots
  • used mustard seed instead of celery seed
  • packed cabbage into (3) 32oz jars (1 quart each) + a 16-oz (1 pint) jar


I can’t believe how crisp this cabbage is! I’m used to a cabbage salad that gets rather soft after a day or so.

I mostly like how this tastes, but if I make it again I’d like to try it with the celery seed as the recipe instructs. I do prefer this kind of salad over my typical approach.

I’m definitely going to be picking up some of the spices called for when pickling, but am trying to hold off until I see a good price on in-season veggies.

Bean and Kale Vegetable Stew

Often when returning from a trip somewhere, I go a little nuts stocking up on produce at the grocery store. Traveling is often light on fruits and veggies, and being back in control of my kitchen gets me excited to cook up a storm.

So this week when I started to feel like I was pressing my luck with the zucchini and kale in the veggie drawer, I pulled together this Bean and Kale Vegetable Stew, adapted from Smitten Kitchen recipe I like quite a bit. Actually one of my favorite things about that recipe is how adaptable it is to whatever I have on hand. The first time I made it was the first time I had added wine to soup or stew, and it was a revelation.


Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Chard and White Bean Stew

Process notes


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, pureed
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c red wine
  • 2 c vegetable broth (made from Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base) + 1 c water
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced about 1/2 in. thick
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Cook kale in a pot of salted boiling water for 1 min., then drain and set aside.

Saute carrots, onion, and garlic in olive oil for about 15 min. Add wine and cook until it’s reduced by 3/4. Add beans, broth, tomatoes, salt and pepper, and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 min. Add kale and zucchini and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in vinegar and season to taste.


I don’t typically get excited about non-cream-based soups or stews, but this one really hits the spot. The darker take on the original recipe (the red wine, kidney beans, kale) is hearty and complex. I especially like it with a little grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil on top.

This stew is perfect on days that I haven’t eaten enough veggies, because it’s a whole bunch packed into one bowl.

And now I have an open bottle of red wine in the refrigerator, ready for another dish…perhaps a tomato pasta sauce of some kind.

Italian Vegetable Casserole with Beans and Rice

Italian Veggie Casserole with Beans and Rice

I’ve been in a casserole mood of late. It’s so nice to prepare something once and then enjoy it for several days (especially when I’m keeping busy making things for my shop). There’s a great basic mix and match casserole formula in The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever, by Beatrice Ojakangas, that provides guidance with lots of flexibility. I used her formula before with my Whole Wheat Tuna Noodle Casserole.

Italian Vegetable Casserole with Beans and Rice

My take on Beatrice’s formula wasn’t originally going to have an Italian theme, since it was starting with rice and beans. But after choosing my veggies, sauce, and topping it started to look like a natural fit. All that was needed for seasoning was some oregano.

Everything came together so well, and I love how it turned out. This casserole is hearty and delicious, and leftovers reheat great.

Italian Vegetable Casserole with Beans and Rice

Italian Veggie Casserole with Beans and Rice

Makes a generous 3-qt casserole (mine filled all the way to the brim of my dish)


  • 1 c brown rice
  • 2 tbsp butter, divided into 1 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp + 1 1/2 tsp
  • 12 large cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 c cooked navy beans
  • 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan


  1. Cook brown rice according to directions, adding 1 tbsp of butter to the boiling water.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tsp butter and 1 tsp oil in a pan over medium heat and add onion slices. Cook over medium low heat until they start to brown (or you can take them all the way to caramelized). Set aside.
  3. Now that the brown rice and onions are started, it’s a good time to preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a generous-3-qt casserole dish.
  4. Saute mushrooms in 1 1/2 tsp butter and 1 tsp oil over medium heat until moisture cooks off. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  5. Boil a saucepan of enough water to come a couple of inches above the zucchini slices. Add the zucchini and simmer for a few minutes until just tender. Avoid overcooking and turning them to mush. Drain and set aside.
  6. Pulse the tomatoes (with juices) in a blender or food processor until the chunks smooth out. Then pour into a small bowl and stir in the garlic and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. In a large bowl, gently mix the beans, rice, zucchini, onions, and mushrooms. Spread into the prepared dish. Pour tomato sauce evenly over top. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top and cover.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes with cover on, then remove cover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until browned and heated through.
  9. Remove and let rest for about 10 minutes, then serve.

Easy lentil soup with carrots, celery, and tomato

Easy Lentil Soup with Carrots, Celery, and Tomato

One of my big grocery store weaknesses is the bulk section at Winco. (The other big one is cheese.) So with some impulse-buy French green lentils in my pantry, I needed to figure out what to make with…French green lentils. I also wanted to use up some diced carrot and celery, making this Easy Lentil Soup recipe sound like a great fit.

I made a few substitutions based on what I had on hand and came up with a slightly revised version. Which was surprisingly hearty and full of flavor considering the simplicity of the ingredients. As soon as I finished my bowl I was already looking forward to next-day leftovers. And the lentils came out really nice — firm and pleasant, not mushy or bland.

A bowl of easy lentil soup with carrots, celery, and tomato

Easy Lentil Soup with Carrots, Celery, and Tomato

Adapted from Easy Lentil Soup


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium celery stalk, small dice
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp dried minced garlic
  • fine sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp vegetable broth mix
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 1/4 cups French green lentils, rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • splash of balsamic vinegar


  1. Stir the vegetable broth mix into the water and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the celery, carrot, and dried onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the dried garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with several generous pinches of salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in the seasoned water, tomatoes with their juices, lentils, and thyme. Cover and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low and continue simmering, covered, until the lentils and vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.
  4. Taste and season with more salt or pepper as needed, then stir in the vinegar. Purée half of the soup in a blender, then stir it back into the rest of the soup.

Spinach, black bean, and yam enchilada casserole

Spinach, Black Bean, and Yam Enchilada Casserole

Recently I made — and fell in love with — Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce. The sauce was so good that I made another double batch of it and added half of it to a simple dish of rice and beans, and saved the other half for…something else.

Today that something else manifested itself in the form of an enchilada casserole loaded with black beans, spinach, onion, cheese, and yam (the orange variety, often called “sweet potato” in the store). I also had some minced cooked carrot that I tossed in, but it didn’t add much to the flavor of the dish, just a few extra vitamins.

Spinach, black bean, and yam enchilada casserole
This casserole is so good I had to force myself to stop half way through eating and snap a few pics

Really, the foundation of this is the sauce and tortillas — the middle could be filled with a big variety of things. Which is one of the things I find so wonderful about casseroles.

This dish was a lot of work, but now I have many delicious meals squirreled away in the refrigerator and freezer.

Spinach, Black Bean, and Yam Enchilada Casserole

Makes 12 portions


  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 medium yam, diced into ½-inch pieces
  • 1/4 tsp ground chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 tsp olive oil, separated
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1 large bunch spinach, rinsed with stems removed
  • 2 c cooked black beans, drained
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ancho chile sauce (see recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Salsa, optional

Ancho Chile Sauce

Adapted from Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce

  • 4 dried ancho chiles
  • 2 c water
  • 1 onion, 1/2- to 3/4-inch diced
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  1. Heat the ancho chiles and 2 c water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then drain the chiles, reserving 1 c of the cooking liquid.
  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over high heat, then add the onion and saute for 1 min. Reduce heat to medium, and add the garlic and salt. Cook 5 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Add broth, oregano, and cumin and cook for 8 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  3. After thickened, pour the onion mixture into a blender and add the chiles and the 1 c of reserved liquid. Allow the lid to vent out the steam while mixing, and place a towel over the lid to prevent splatters. Blend until smooth, then stir in the lime juice. Set aside while preparing the rest of the casserole.


  1. Heat oven to 425°.
  2. Toss yam pieces with 2 tsp olive oil, chipotle powder, and brown sugar. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Roast for about 15-20 min or until browned and softened.
  3. In a skillet, heat 2 tsp of oil and saute the onion for a few minutes over medium high heat, until browned and softened. Set aside.
  4. Using a thin towel, such as a flour sack towel, squeeze out the chopped mushrooms a portion at a time to reduce the water content in them. Then heat 2 tsp of oil in a skillet over medium high heat and saute the mushrooms. Set aside.
  5. Wilt the spinach in a heated skillet. Squeeze out the water and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, stir together the black beans, roasted yam, onion, mushrooms, spinach, and garlic.
  7. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray. Spoon about ⅓ cup of ancho chile sauce in the bottom, then place 6 tortillas on the bottom in a single layer, with edges overlapping so they fit in the dish. Pour the bean mixture over the tortillas and spread evenly. Top with an even layer of the cheese, then the other 6 tortillas. Pour the sauce over top and spread it out to cover all of the pieces of tortilla so they don’t dry out.
  8. Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes, or until edges are darkened and it’s heated through. Serve with salsa.

slice of veggie-packed breakfast casserole

Veggie-packed Breakfast Casserole

My goal with creating this recipe was to have a hearty breakfast that requires no work to prepare in the morning — just a quick reheating in the microwave and it’s ready to go. I wanted it to be an easy, healthy choice for when time is short in the morning before heading out to work.

I started drafting the recipe by listing all of the veggies that I know my husband and I both like and would be especially tasty for a morning meal. And I knew it would include eggs and cheese to tie it all together. I approached it sort of like making a quiche, except with a shredded-potato base instead of a pastry crust.

This recipe is definitely a labor of love! It took a few hours to make, primarily because of all of the prep and pre-cooking of the vegetables. And then I accidentally turned the oven off in the middle of baking it, which stretched the cooking time out considerably.

But the time and energy definitely paid off and now there are 8 big, delicious slices of this casserole (really it’s more like a vegetable torte, with well-defined layers as opposed to stirred-together casserole ingredients), making a whole week of quick and easy breakfasts.

veggie-packed breakfast casserole


Veggie-packed Breakfast Casserole

Makes one 9×12-inch dish, cut into 8 generous slices


  • 2 large Russet potatoes, left whole with skins cleaned
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbls oil
  • large pack of white mushrooms, cleaned
  • 4 tbls butter, divided
  • bunch of spinach, cleaned and stemmed
  • 6 oz cheese, shredded
  • 6 large eggs
  • milk (to fill to the 4 ½ cup line when mixed with the eggs)
  • 2 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • 1 to 1 ½ c bread crumbs (I used crumbs from whole wheat loaves I’d previously made)
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  1. Place the whole potatoes in a pan of water and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until a knife can be inserted into them fairly easily. Drain potatoes and place in an ice bath for 15 minutes, then peel the skins off and refrigerate while the rest of the ingredients are prepared.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Rub 3 tbls of the butter in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
  3. Heat 1 tbls of oil in a pan and saute the onion until soft and translucent. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add bell pepper and garlic and saute for a few more minutes until the peppers are slightly softened. Set aside.
  4. Pull the stems from the mushrooms. Slice the caps and wring the moisture from them using a thin towel (such as a flour sack dish towel). Finely chop the mushroom stems and wring them out as well. Saute over medium-low heat with 1 tbls of butter until cooked through and the liquid has evaporated (about 15 minutes), seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, stir together the onion and pepper mixture, the mushrooms, and the spinach. The heat from the onions and mushrooms will wilt the spinach.
  6. Shred the potatoes. Set aside.
  7. In large measuring cup, add the eggs and fill up to the 4 ½ c mark with milk. Whisk together until smooth.
  8. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the olive oil.
  9. Assemble casserole: distribute the shredded potatoes in the bottom on top of the butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper; sprinkle ⅓ of the cheese over the potatoes; spread the onion/pepper/mushroom/spinach mixture over the potatoes evenly; pour the egg/milk mixture on top; sprinkle on the remaining cheese; lay the tomato slices on top; sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the tomato slices.
  10. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake an additional 15-30 minutes, or until the egg is cooked and the dish is bubbly.
  11. Let rest for a bit, then slice. If storing for eating over several days, it’s easier to get the slices into storage containers once it’s been chilled.

spicy cheese and lentil pupusas

Spicy Lentil and Cheese Pupusas

The last bag of instant corn masa flour I bought for making corn tortillas included a recipe for gorditas, which got me curious about what else could be made with the instant masa. I discovered pupusas, which are masa pockets typically stuffed with cheese and something else. After some reading and a pantry check, I came up with a recipe for spicy, cheesy, lentil pupusas.

Spicy Lentil and Cheese Pupusas

Makes 8 pupusas

To make pockets:

  • 2 c instant masa flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 c hot water, plus a bit extra available

Mix together the salt and flour, then add the water and knead into a ball. Add a bit more water if needed. Wrap with plastic and set aside for about 30 minutes while the rest of the ingredients are prepared.

To make filling:

  • 1/2 c chana dal lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 large clove of garlic, smashed
  • 2 c water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper, or to taste
  • 1 small brown onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 oz mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed and diced (save some of the seeds to spice up the mix if desired)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced

In a saucepan, simmer the water, garlic, lentils, salt, and chipotle pepper for about 30 minutes, until cooked.

Meanwhile, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium low heat, until soft and browned. Set aside when cooked. These will be mixed in with the lentils when they’re done cooking.

In a food processor, pulse together the cheese, jalapeño peppers, and bell peppers until a coarse paste is formed. Add as many of the jalapeño seeds as desired.

Place the cheese mixture in a small bowl, and combine the lentils and onions in a separate small bowl.

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Take one portion, divide it in half, and form a ball. Flatten in a tortilla press until it’s a fat disc, but not as much as with corn tortillas. These will be thicker. Repeat with the other half. Spoon lentil mixture into one half, and then spoon on some cheese mixture. Top with other disc and press edges together. Repeat with rest of dough and fillings.

Cook in cast iron skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, then flip and cook other side. Serve hot.

Whole wheat sourdough pita with hummus, spicy carrots, and fried eggplant

Middle Eastern Mini Feast

After finishing Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, I was craving Middle Eastern food. Specifically, I was craving the Middle Eastern food from my favorite restaurant for that sort of thing. They make this fried eggplant dish that is like candy, and these spicy cooked carrots that burn the tastebuds but are soooo tasty. But instead of running over there for takeout, I wanted to try cooking my typical order at home.


Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita adapted from Skillet Baked Whole Wheat Pita (Using Sourdough)

Hummus adapted from Lebanese Hummus Recipe From Scratch – Hummus b Tahini

Fried Eggplant adapted from Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing

Spicy Carrots adapted from Spicy Carrots for Clear Skin

Process notes

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita

  • 4 oz sourdough starter (fed)
  • 4 1/2 oz hard white wheat flour (unsifted)
  • 3-4 oz water (filtered)
  • 1 tbls honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbls vegetable oil

1:50 p.m.: Mix starter, flour, water, and honey together for a couple of min. (added quite a bit of extra water at this stage), then let sit for 15 min. Then add salt and vegetable oil. Mix for 2 min. on med-low. Do 4 stretch & folds with 5-min. intervals.

2:25 p.m.: Rest dough, covered.

4:00 p.m.: Dough isn’t rising enough, so move to slightly warmed oven until time to make pitas.

5:30 p.m.: Divide dough into 4 pieces and flatten out, using flour. Rest for about 15 min. then cook in hot, unoiled cast iron skillet for a few minutes on each side.


  • 1/2 lb dried chickpeas*
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tbls tahini paste
  • 1/3 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 to 1 c warm water

Process chickpeas with 1/2 cup warm water for 3 to 5 min. Add garlic, salt, and paprika, and slowly add tahini while processor is running. Slowly add lemon juice while processor is running, then mix for 2 min. Adjust seasoning and add more water if needed.

Serve at room temperature with olive oil drizzled over top.

*I put 1 lb of dried chickpeas in the pressure cooker with some salt and cooked for 40 min., using natural pressure release when done. It yielded 2 1/4 lb (940 gm) cooked chickpeas.

Fried Eggplant

  • 2 Philippine eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Oil for frying

Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and set in colander for 30 min. Then rinse under cold water and wring out water using a thin towel.

Heat oil in skillet and fry for several minutes on each side until golden. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Spicy Carrots

  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced 1/8″ thick
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash of caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 lemon, juiced

Saute carrots in hot oil in nonstick skillet for 5 min. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 min., stirring occasionally. Add cumin, paprika, turmeric, and salt. Saute until fragrant and pasty. Stirn in chili paste, garlic, caraway, honey, and lemon juice. Cook briefly, then serve. This is good at room temperature.


Overall, I’m happy with how things turned out. I’m most excited about the hummus recipe. I had come to the conclusion that I didn’t really like tahini in my hummus, but it turns out that my last container of tahini paste was just really stale. The new one I picked up for this recipe was smooth and has a wonderful flavor. This hummus recipe is the best I’ve ever made and I’ll definitely make it again.

I had some problems with the pita dough sticking to my hands when I placed it in the pan to cook, so some of the pitas are wildly misshapen. They taste good though. Next time I’d try an overnight proofing to help strengthen the gluten (or more kneading), and less water.

The spicy carrots turned out really well. Next time I could up the chili paste a tad bit.

And the fried eggplant was OK, but rather bland — definitely not the magical eggplant I have at the restaurant. I wonder how they do it there…

Tomato bread soup

Tomato Bread Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro)

With all of the bread baking I did last week, I wanted to find interesting ways to use some of it. Both loaves were too tough for me to eat as regular sandwiches (but the 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Hearth Bread made wonderful tartine-style sandwiches grilled in the skillet with pesto and sharp white cheddar on top).

I ran across this Tomato Bread Soup recipe, and since it’s gotten chilly here over the last few days, it’s perfect timing for some warm soup that’s somehow both hearty and light at the same time.

I’ve made tomato bread soup before but it was quite bland compared to this batch. Using fresh basil basil made it delicious. And sauteeing the bread cubes (made from my 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Hearth Bread and 2.5-lb Miche) in olive oil with some of the fresh basil and a bit of pepper was a key step to the process. I’m tempted to make a bunch of croutons from the rest of the Miche — I could not get over how good they tasted.

For such a basic-sounding soup, this was surprisingly full of flavor. I had read not to use sourdough bread in a soup like this, but I’m glad I didn’t listen to that advice — this was so good. I just wish I had made twice as much!

Tomato Bread Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro)

Adapted from Mary Ann Esposito’s Tomato Bread Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro)

Makes 2 generous bowls.


  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6-8 tbls olive oil, divided
  • 1 white/brown onion, diced
  • 6-8 basil leaves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used 1 1/2 tsp of this mix + 1 1/2 cups water)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed bread (I used homemade whole wheat sourdough bread)


  1. Puree the diced tomatoes (include the liquid in the can) until smooth. Strain out the seeds and pulp using a spoon or spatula and mesh strainer. Discard the seeds and pulp and set the liquid aside to add to the soup.
  2. In a medium sauce pan or Dutch oven, saute the onion in half of the olive oil over medium heat until softened.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the rest of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and half of basil to the skillet and toss around to coat. Cook until the bread starts to get lightly browned, stirring often. Add some black pepper to taste.
  4. Add the rest of the basil to the onion and stir, continuing to cook (5-10 minutes total).
  5. Once the bread cubes are done, remove them from the pan and set on paper-towel lined tray to drain any excess oil off.
  6. Stir in the broth, tomato juice, and salt and pepper to taste. My vegetable broth mix already has salt in it, so I didn’t need additional salt. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove soup from heat and stir in bread cubes. Cover pan and let sit for about 5 minutes. Serve, topped with some shredded Parmesan if desired.

Buckwheat bowl

Throwing together ingredients from lists of clean-eating and detox foods into a bowl is such a convenient way to go. It’s easy to create a nutritionally balanced meal without spending a lot of time planning or shopping for special ingredients. I think of them more like a framework for a meal than a particular recipe.

  • some lentils or legumes
  • a grain or starch
  • cooked vegetables
  • raw vegetables
  • garlic or onion
  • dressing or sauce
  • nuts or seeds

This is the one I made last night:

Buckwheat bowl

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Bowl ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow split peas, cooked
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat, cooked with a dried herb blend
  • 1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cashews


  1. Spoon the yellow split peas, buckwheat, and mushrooms into two bowls. They don’t need to be stirred together. Sprinkle celery and scallions on top.
  2. Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and dijon mustard until it’s smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Drizzle the dressing over each bowl and top with the cashews.