Posts Tagged ‘Meatless Monday’

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Sandwiches


One of my most vivid memories of college in upstate New York had nothing to do with college or upstate New York.  One brutal winter morning, when all I dared dream about was hot chocolate from the library vending machine, a friend from San Diego mentioned missing his family’s avocado orchard.

He may as well have told me he was from Mars.

From that moment on, California became a very real place in this midwesterner’s fantasy life.  It was CandyLand, where all your favorite goodies hang from trees, everywhere in easy reach, year-round. How could life not be wonderful in a place where crocodile-skinned avocados and bright lemons grow heavy in your own backyard?

I think of that cold weather revelation several times a week- while standing in my California kitchen and spooning avocado on toast.  I like my avocado smushed with a squirt of lemon, sea salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and, yes, a drizzle of olive oil.  I know that’s fat on fat, but give it a go and see if you agree that a little liquid gold makes all the difference.

Avocado toast has been popping up everywhere on the blogosphere these days.  I don’t think it’s a comeback or a fad.  If lunchtime at my house is any indication, avocado toast never faded away.  Maybe we thought it was too basic to share?  I’m sorry, pretty green lady.  Shouldn’t have stuck you in that corner.

All this avocado toast got me thinking.  What other seemingly banal vegetable sandwiches do you love?  Here are my favs:

-GOOD cheddar, avocado and sprouts piled high on thickly-sliced multigrain with Dijon

-Herbed cream cheese with avocado, Persian cucumber, radish, fennel and red onion on toasted cranberry loaf or olive bread.

-(Non-traditional) Vegetable Banh Mi. Hard-boiled egg, pickled carrots and daikon, radishes, cucumbers, fresh jalapeno, watercress and fresh mint on a warm baguette slathered in soft butter- salt with sea salt!- and served with sriracha.  Sriracha mayo is the real way to go, but I don’t go mayo.  Ever.

What’s your favorite vegetable sandwich? Let’s discover new loves this Meatless Monday.  There may be a revelation in store.

xx Sarah

Meatless Monday: Toast with Almond Butter and Fresh Fruit


Sarah and I have many things in common but our love of toasted bread spread with nut butter and topped with thin slices of fresh fruit is one worth sharing with y’all. Sarah has a cute story that she would pack such a sandwich as her lunch in Grad school and her fellow students would marvel at the concept of the fresh fruit version of PB&J. When we first met we admitted to eating close to a jar of peanut butter a week in this fashion but in an effort to be healthier I have switched to almond butter (most of the time.)

Toast with Almond Butter and Fruit

 This is my go to healthy breakfast or afternoon snack, in fact  I’m getting almond butter on my computer as I write this post before I rush off to work.

Toast with Almond Butter and Fruit

When fresh fruit can not be procured in the wee hours of the morning, SQIRL Jam is an excellent substitution (Kumquat Marmalade pictured above.) Below is all my favorite brands if you want to try this “recipe”. I use Gluten Free bread because that is the bread we keep in our house and I just don’t miss the gluten in this instance.

Toast with Almond Butter and Fresh Fruit

2 slices whole wheat bread (I like Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread)

2 tablespoons Almond Butter (I like raw, creamy, unsalted almond butters)

Fresh fruit thinly sliced (strawberries, banana, nectarine, peach, plum, apple, pear or just a pile of berries)


Hope you love it too!




Meatless Monday: No-Knead Pizza Dough


BOn Appetit march-2012

The March cover of Bon Apptetit was so mouth watering immediately invited friends over for a make-your-own-pizza party. Messy and misshapen, our homemade pizza was shockingly delicious, better than any of the artisan pizza spots in town (this is a true statement.) One friend even said “I had no idea you could make good pizza at home.” Yes you can friends and you must.

The secret is this unbelievable dough recipe care of Jim Lahey and New York’s Sullivan Street Bakery. Click here to find the recipe at Bon Appetite. Here are the steps. You mix tons of flour with some yeast and salt and water and let it sit in a big bowl overnight to ferment and proof.

The next morning you portion the dough into balls and allow to rest again for a few hours.

When they look delightfully fat and puffy you heat your oven as hot as it will go. Spread out a dough ball onto a baking sheet (gently to preserve the pockets of air which gives the dough it’s chewy insides). Top with your favorite veggies, cheeses and meats, if it’s not Meatless Monday of course. Bake for about 12 minutes and you have a crisp crust with toothsome insides and tons of flavor.

So good there were no pictures taken of the finished product as my hands were covered with gooey cheese and tomato sauce… for the whole night. Sorry.






Forks Over Knives



Friends, I’m way behind in vegan news.  Like, waaay behind.  Mostly because I’m not a vegan.  Or even a vegetarian.  Until recently, the word vegan practically made me roll my eyes.

Imagine my surprise when a meat-eating, iron-pumping, protein shake-chugging pal of mine told me Forks Over Knives, last year’s vegan documentary, was the best movie he’d seen in a while.

It took a serious head cold and a gray day for me to NetFlix it, but I did.  And I really, really liked it. Sure, there’s propaganda sprinkled here and there but we’re all savvy enough to see through it.  The doctors, however, and the medical findings they share are nothing short of astonishing.  To paraphrase Roger Ebert in his review: this is a movie that will change your life so you should probably skip it.

And no, it’s not a gory this-is-what-happens-in-a-slaughter-house kind of movie.  It’s a positive look at how a plant-based diet changes the lives of sick people around the world.

I’m still not a vegan or a vegetarian, but I’d be lying if I said this movie hasn’t made me more committed to eliminating meat on Meatless Monday and other days of the week.

Have you watched Forks Over Knives?

xoxo Sarah



Meatless Monday: Green Huevos Rancheros


Tomatillo Sauce usually stars on our semi-famous* A&O Chicken Enchiladas. This sauce is light, tart and bursting with flavor. It’s so good it can lead to bragging about how good a cook you are and then a ruined white button down and first degree burns.** Carefully make a batch of this Tomatillo Sauce and let it transform eggs and tortillas into a brunch spectacular.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros with Tomatillo Sauce

serves 6

6 Organic Eggs

6 Corn Tortillas (taco size)

1 can Annie’s Refried Black Beans

2 cups Tomatillo Sauce (recipe below)

1-2 ripe avocados, remove from skin and sliced

1 cup Cojiita cheese, crumbled (can substitute feta)

1 cup Mexican Crema (or sour cream thinned out with milk)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional for garnish)

Butter for frying eggs

Tomatillo Sauce (adapted from this recipe by Tyler Florence)
1 pound tomatillos, husked
1 white onion, peeled, and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 jalapenos, halved and seeds removed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 a lime, juiced
1 tablespoon of honey (optional)

Place first 4 ingredients (tomatillos through jalapenos) in a large pot and fill with water until to covered.  Bring to a boil over high heat and let simmer until vegetables are tender, about 12-15 minutes.  Drain completely.

Combine cooked vegetables with remaining ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or a blender. Pulse until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and honey if needed. Can be made a few days ahead.

Now get ready to make your Huevos Rancheros!

In a small sauce pan warm the refried black beans and season with salt and pepper (and some hot sauce if you like heat.)

Prep all the toppings: slice your avocado in half, scoop out the pit free side and slice into thin half moons. Use a spoon to pry out the avocado pit and repeat with the remaining avocado half. Set aside. Chop the cilantro. Crumble the cotija cheese and let your crema or sour cream sit on the counter a few minutes to soften the texture.

In a dry skillet over medium heat warm the corn tortillas for 30 seconds on each side. Remove each tortilla to a small plate. Spread each tortilla with warm black beans.

Now melt some butter in a skillet and fry your eggs to your liking (sunnyside up or over easy) don’t forget to salt and pepper your eggs too. Top each bean smeared tortilla with a friend egg and then a large spoonful or 3 of warm tomatillo sauce. Garnish with a big handful of crumbled cheese, a generous drizzle of crema, sprinkle of cilantro and a few slices of avocado. Serve immediately.



* Semi-famous because a few famous people have enjoyed the dish and 2 have asked for the recipe. Once Oprah features it in her magazine I will move them to the famous category.

** I made this last week at work and exclaimed out loud “dang this sauce is so good!” Then I added a pinch of salt and turned the blender back on and it exploded all over my shirt.

Meatless Monday: Panettone French Toast


For most of high school I dated a sweet guy from an Italian family. Both his parents were INCREDIBLE cooks and they taught me so much about, cooking, entertaining, fashion, dining out and most of all family bonding. I learned many life lessons from the Votanos like never put cheese on seafood pasta, baggie jeans are NOT the height of style and to gift Panettone bread at the holidays. The first Christmas David and I were dating his mom sent me home one December afternoon with a huge blue box wrapped in cellophane tied with a big ribbon.



My mom and I examined the box with curiosity and finally opened the package which revealed a tall domed bread studded with dried fruit. The first taste was confusing, lightly sweet and studded with raisins and bits of candied orange peel with a distinctive smell of orange and butter. I was skeptical ( I was 14 ok). Then my mom toasted us some slices for breakfast the next morning and the mysteries of the Panettone revealed themselves to me. Toasting turned the edges crisp and flaky and the inside to a fluffy gooey texture, like that of a fresh glazed donut.


Panettone French Toast

17 years later I cheer when I see the tall trapezoid boxes with rounded edges stacked in the markets after Thanksgiving. I resist buying one until mid-December when I toast a slice of Panettone for my birthday breakfast. With each bite I savor the dueling textures and my high school memories. When I go to my mom’s house for the holidays I always know a Panettone awaits for us to share in the morning over tea.


Panettone French Toast + Syrup

This year I decided to go beyond the simple toasting of the bread and whip up some Panettone french toast. Drew couldn’t resist a few bites (even though he has been Gluten-Free for 7 years) and proclaimed it “the best ever, even better than a bear claw.” We ate it huddled over one plate drizzled with maple syrup and marveling over the custardy texture. I can’t think of a better holiday morning breakfast.  Do try it friends. Your new holiday tradition awaits. Or give one as a gift as the Votanos did and open your loved ones up to a new world of flavor.


Panettone French Toast bite

Panettone French Toast

serves 4-6

6 thick slices of Panettone (1 inch, half moon slices)

2 organic large eggs

1 cup organic whole  milk

2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter

Maple syrup or powdered sugar for serving

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Cut your Panettone loaf in half vertically with a serrated knife and lay one half flat side down on the cutting board. Trim off the brown parts of both ends of the bread and slice the loaf into 6 half moon shaped slices. Whisk 2 eggs into 1 cup of milk in a large flat dish. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Soak 3 slices of bread in the custard for 15 seconds on each side. Gently place the custard soaked slices into the melted butter and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side. Be sure to adjust the heat down if they are burning. Once nicely browned, flip the bread and fry on the other side. Cook until the bread has a firm texture and puffs up slightly. Remove to a baking sheet and keep warm in a low 200 degree oven while you repeat the process with the remaining slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup or powdered sugar.




Meatless Monday: Squash and Greens Frittata


Squash and Kale Frittata

If you have never made a frittata you should try this recipe as an example of how to make one. SO SIMPLE to make and it’s the perfect vehicle for left over squash or greens you don’t know what to do with in you fridge. Satisfying for breakfast, lunch or dinner with a side salad. Even an impromptu appetizer when friends come over, cut it into bite sized pieces and served on toasted baguette. Sarah and I agree this is one of the basic dishes that everyone should have in their repertoire so we made the steps for this recipe super easy to follow and create the least amount of dishes possible! Cooking 101 dear friends. Class is in session.


Squash and Kale Frittata slices

Squash and Greens Frittata
serves 2-3

Saute extra greens and roast some extra squash for dinner the night before and reserve leftovers for the next day’s frittata. Pictured above was roasted Delicata squash half-moons from dinner the night before and curly kale from my organic box.

1 cup cooked squash, cut into thin slices or small chunks (Delicata, Kabocha, Butternut)
1/2 bundle raw Kale, Swiss Chard or Whole Spinach (about 1 cup when cooked)
1-2 tablespoons butter or olive oil for cooking
4 eggs
salt and pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (buy real Parm instead of pre-grated, the difference can’t be denied)
Sriracha chili sauce (optional)

Trader Joes and Whole Foods sell bags of raw Kale already washed, clean and cut!

1. Pre-heat your oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees.
2. Rinse your greens in cold water, place onto a clean towel to dry. Pull the greens off the stems (good activity for kids) and chop into thin ribbon sized pieces equaling about 2 cups of raw greens.
3. Place 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil in a small (6” oven proof) non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the greens. Saute over medium-high heat until soft about 3-5 minutes, add a big pinch of salt and stir well. Wipe down your cutting board and your knife with the wet towel from the green vegetables.
4. Chop your cooked squash into small bite sized pieces on the same cutting board with the same knife and add to the pan of greens to warm. Stir a few times with spatula and turn off the heat. Wipe down your cutting board and knife with the same towel.
5. Mix the eggs in a bowl with a fork and a pinch of salt and pepper. Grate the Parmesan on the microplane over the bowl of eggs (or measure out 1/4 cup) and mix well.
6. Pour the eggs into the skillet of warmed vegetables over low heat. Mix a few times (as if you were making scrambled eggs) with your spatula to distribute the vegetables evenly and then pop the skillet into the oven. Bake about 5 minutes until the eggs have set, no wobbles when you shake the pan.
7. Remove from heat and let sit 3 minutes. Using the same spatula to go around the edge of the frittata in the pan to loosen it. Invert onto a cutting board and cut into wedges with your wiped down knife. Serve with chili paste on the side if desired.


Frittata + Sriracha


Meatless Monday: Organic Fall Green Smoothie


A slight variation on my favorite healthy breakfast. An organic green smoothie with the star of fall produce, the apple! Trader Joe’s now sells bags of cut and washed kale which makes this smoothie a breeze to whip up in the morning or you can buy frozen kale at Whole Foods. This is the prefect breakfast for your morning commute.


Green Smoothie

Organic Fall Green Smoothie
Serves 2

1 cup organic cucumber, chopped (about half of an English cucumber with the skin on)

1 ripe organic avocado

2 cups organic apples, chopped (skins on)

2 cups organic kale, chopped and tightly packed (washed and dried)

1 cup organic lemonade (or 1 cup fresh squeezed lemons and oranges)

1/2 cup of ice

Puree in a blender until very smooth and bright green. Make sure to blend well as chunks of kale are not so appealing. We like to drink ours with a straw.



Meatless Monday: Vegan Cooking Class


Happy Monday, loves! Thirteen college students joined me in a vegan cooking class this past weekend at USC.  Here’s a few shots.  You may recognize some of the recipes.

Southwestern Quinoa salad

Southwestern Quinoa salad

I veganized our Southwestern Quinoa Salad by eliminating the chicken and feta and adding in avocado for richness and pépitas for crunch.  The dish gave us the chance to talk about the importance of putting protein into a vegan diet (quinoa and beans of any kind are a great starting point) and practice our chopping skills.  I was able to share a few tips, like laying your big pepper slices skin-side down on your cutting board before slicing.

how to cut a bell pepper

a trick of the trade

It’s much easier and safer to cut from the inside out rather than try and push your knife through the pepper’s waxy skin.

how to roll a spring roll

Rolling spring rolls

I demonstrated rolling a Sweet Coconut, Tofu and Mint Spring Roll.

coconut, tofu and mint spring roll

A finished roll

And the students went to town.

tofu spring rollYum!

Vanilla Vegan cupcake

Mini cupcakes

Elan shared her recipe for Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes.

vegan frosting

Beating in the confectioner's sugar

And Vegan Almond Frosting.

frosting cupcakes

Gilding the lily

Hopefully she’ll post the recipe here sometime soon.  I had no idea vegan baking could taste so good.

vegan vanilla cupcakes

one little cupcake

What’s your take on the vegan diet?  I couldn’t commit.  Eggs are far too important to me. That said, I found it easier than I imagined to create a really satisfying meal.  And those cupcakes!  Thank you, Elan.  And thanks to Eleanor, one of our sophomores here at USC, for taking command of the camera and producing such gorgeous pictures while I was busy chatting with the class.


Meatless Monday: Baked Sweet Potato Chips


This is one of the easiest dinner side dishes of all time. Drew and I make this at least once a week and sometimes more. I bet that kids would love these.

Sweet Potatoes

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash one organic sweet potato per person and slice them into 1/8″ thick coins or rounds. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.


Seasoned Sweet Potatoes

Toss the potatoes with olive oil and then season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly browned and crisp.


Baked Sweet Potato Chips


Mine looked like this when they were done.


Sriracha Aoili

If you mix Sriracha chili sauce in with some Vegenaise or Mayonnaise you have a fantastic spicy-garlicy-creamy dipping sauce for your sweet chips. Happy Monday indeed.



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