Friday, August 17, 2012

Mushroom Madness Continues

Well, the weekend approaches and lunch, dinner or snack my frig has a few extras.  Time to put them together into an easy tasty dish.  Mushrooms are a perfect fit for beef.  A fast skillet simmered in ten minutes could easily just come to the table deconstructed with condiments and let everyone construct their own.  Don't forget your favorite hot sauce!   Happy Friday.

Mushroom and Beef Tacos
Prep Time:       15 minutes
Cook Time:      15 minutes 
Serves:              4


1     lb       button mushrooms slice or chopped coarsely
2     tbl      olive oil
1     lb       ground beef, 75/27 lean to fat
1/2  cup    Spanish onion, chopped fine
2     cl       garlic, fresh, chopped fine
2     teas    chili powder
1/2  teas    cumin, seed
1/2  teas    paprika
1/4  cup     water
2                plum tomatoes, diced fine
1/2  cup     grated cheddar cheese, sharp
1/2  cup     romaine or iceburg lettuce, shredded
12   small  corn taco shells.

Heat a ten inch thick bottom skillet.  Add the olive and oil and when hot, add the ground beef onion and garlic.  Cook and stir about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushrooms are almost dry.  Add the spices, the water and simmer slowly for about 3 minutes.  Season lightly with salt and fresh pepper.  Serve up with condiments and small crispy taco shells.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mushroom Madness

Mushrooms, tomatoes and tomato taste about to
simmer into a fantastic Mushroom Bolognese!
Mushrooms hit the top of my list when it comes to working with vegetables.  Way beyond the routine stuffed fungi and grilled portobella burgers, this Mushroom Bolognese  simmers in my kitchen sending me in a transe remembering the forests of Tuscany!  Who needs to write more  when you can spend the time making it.  I find either grinding or using the shredder attachment on the food processor offers a more robust result as when you just chop the mushrooms in the bowl of the processor, the result can be more watery.  However, it is all about the end texture you want. Try it both ways on seperate days and let me know which one your prefer.  The juniper, clove and allspice kick in with a rustic flavor and heady aroma.  Be sure the wine is not too acidic or the end result will be a bit tannic.  If that does happen add a pinch of sugar and make a note to self to use a softer wine next time.  Toss on spaghetti, layer into lasagne, serve with roasted eggplant or a meat or poultry you fancy.  You might find that this is so good that you get possessed and Mushroom Madness urges you to keep eating it before it hits the pasta! 

Mushroom Bolognese
Meal Occasion: Dinner, Brunch and Lunch
Prep Time:        20 minutes
Cook Time:       25 minutes
Serves:                4

1 1/2     lbs    crimini mushrooms
1 1/2     lbs   portobella mushrooms
1                    medium onion, cleaned and cut in half
3                    medium size carrots, peeled
2                    stalks of celery, washed
4           cl      garlic, peeled
1           lb     tomatoes, cored, and cut into fine dice
1           Tbl   tomato paste
1            c      red wine
1           teas  red chili pepper, finely chopped
1/2        teas  bay leaf, crumbled fine
1/2        teas  cinnamon, ground
1/2        teas  allspice, ground
3/4        teas  clove, ground
pinch             juniper berry, dried, ground
sea salt and pepper to taste
2            Tbl   olive oil
cooked pasta of your choice

Using the shredder attachment of the food processor, individual grind and set aside each of the first six ingredients.   Heat a 10 inch skillet to medium and add the olive oil.  Toss in the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and simmer, stirring.  Cook about five minutes.  Add the mushrooms and stir.  Cook another four to five minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Add the wine, chili pepper, herb and spices.  Simmer gently about 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.  Season to taste. 

Monday, August 13, 2012


Delicious any time am, afternoon or post workout!
Being a Vegetable Alchemist I want to know more about what and why I am eating.  I prepare food at home as often as I can and follow sites that include fitness and body care.  I have always been one to approach those meals and what I chose at eateries with my interest in linking choices to 'body smart food.'  This is one fast prep I saw in a skin care blog.  I did not have a few of the ingredients such as the almond milk and coconut oil.  However I just used a great almond meal I had and some coconut water.  It gets rancid fast so keep it tighly sealed and possibly refrigerated.  A small amount of coconut oil is great to have on hand. I missed the great Omega opt with it as the oil it is full 'medium chain fatty acids' according to Perricone, the author of the note on this.  Because of that it increases circulation and with the avocado and rest of the ingredients the end smoothie is chocked with with healthy fats and protein you can 'bank on.'

Meal Occasion:  Breakfast, Snack, Post Workout  
Benefits:             Skin tone and freshness
Prep Time:         10 min
Blend Time:         2 min
Serves:                  2

4-6 oz. unsweetened almond milk
1 c. frozen pineapple pieces
1 sm. piece avocado (about 1/5 of a lg. avocado or ¼ of a sm. one)
1 tbsp. shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp. coconut oil
Dash vanilla extract
2-4 ice cubes
4-6 oz. water, or coconut water

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
2. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Introducing The Vegetable ATM

When I started this blog a few years ago  I wanted to understand what a blog meant, who would read it and why.  I linked the blog from my web site, Vegetable Alchemy and I wrote about my growing interest in seeing vegetables move to center of plate and balancing daily meals with more fruits, herbs and spice.  The time has been well spent and while I know I am not writing to a cast of thousands, writing and reading your comments has helped me learn about readers, learn about what is body smart food and find a fun way to look at what I love most, simple, fresh plant based fit food.

Knowing that, Vegetable Alchemy introduces a new title to this blog: The Vegetable ATM.  Going forward I want to write about fashionable, plant based one dish meals that are body smart and for every day eating.  I'm looking for a balance of 55-60 % carbohydrate, 15-20 % protein, 10-15 % fat.  Often times recipes will be written with readers adding back their own proteins.

The journey to plant based one dish meals has taken many turns.  Looking at multiple course menus, even for home use, and seeing the amount of cuisines that are heavily steeped in animal proteins from historic recipes, it is easy to see how an emergy population past 7 billion people will truly tax the land if duplicated.  More importantly, new thoughts in nutrition clearly embrace a plant based diet.  I have nothing against historic cuisine. But with plant based eating I can incorporate new ideas in nutrition, have a tasty satifying one dish meal, keep my weight in check and have still have loads of energy to easily fulfill my daily work and family demands.  We no longer eat to a rythme of three meals a day, meat, potatoes and a smattering of vegetables.  Small and medium size plates, with a multiple of eating occasions from snacking to eating out are the norm.   So tasty, healthful and fun one dish, body smart meals that educate and nourish are certainly for me, the key to easier healthful living.

As The Vegetable ATM continues I will write about all kinds of meal occasions centering on one dish preparations.  You will recognize some dishes, if not many, as they are adapted for this blog. Soon the inventory of recipes will be integrated into an easy directory for last minute referencing.  All suggestions are steeped in plant based living.  I will show you how to get enough and the right kind of protein.  Hopefully you will be attracted to the fun preparations, the tastes and my sincere interest that you learn to prepare foods that you inegrate into you daily lifestyles. These one dish meals will stress some knife skills but also easy clean up. You will see that as I redefine my own flavor cabinets you will want to do the same offering you countless opportunities for last minute cooking based not on cuisines but centered on plant based produce, fruits, herbs and spices with an occasional impromptu inspiration or two.  My measure of success is that you will find yourself wanting to return home at least a day or two each week to grab the ingredients and learn to become a Vegetable Alchemist. 

Green Vegetable Stirfried Rice
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook time:  10 minutes
Serves          2

2    cups  cooked brown rice
1/2 cup    vegetable stock
1              egg
2    teas    canola oil, divided
2    cl       garlic, chopped
1    Tbl     fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 cup     celery and leaves, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1    cup     Napa Cabbage, cut into 1 " pieces
1    cup     pea shoots, cut into 1 " lengths
1    cup     kale, swiss chard or other leafy green, chopped into shreds
1    cup    scallions, white and green seperated, cut into small rounds
2    teas   tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1    Tbl    oyster sauce
1    teas   sesame oil
pinch of red pepper flakes


Heat a 10 inch non stick pan to medium.  Add one teas of the oil.  Whip the egg lightly in a bowl and add to the pan, scrambling quickly and remove temporarily to a plate or bowl.

Place the pan back on the heat, add the rest of the oil.  When hot begin to stirfy the vegetables starting with the garlic, ginger and celery, then adding and stirfrying the rest, reserving the scallion green. 

Add the stock, the rice and stirfry.  Add the scallion greens, the reserved scrambled egg, the tamari and oyster sauces, then the sesame oil. Stir. Season lightly with cracked pepper if you want.  Plate and sprinkle with a bit of red crushed pepper flake.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lifestyle Not Just Recipes

I suppose that there are those of you out there that take a look at the recipes and say, 'I don't have time to make that.  He must just have time to sit around all day and dream this stuff up, then shop and make just to blog about it....'  Well no way is that the case.  These dishes are made at the end of the day or early evening sometimes at lunch if I can, with a little thought to what is in the cooler when I leave for business early each day.  I might stop on the way for a few last minute items or lean on a pantry of small containers of vinegars, oils, spices and dried or canned goods.  Always I want a fresh component.

I look at how long it takes to make a REAL Beef and Burgundy, even a simple Skillet Chicken and I am not into multiple pots, side dish for the most part, lengthy clean up and recipes that take me 3 hours to digest at the end of the day.  Whatever I make I can easily scale to 4 or 6.  I generally work out swimming, biking, running, with pilates or other sports at least four or five days a week so coupled with business, I am hungry and so is the household.  Breakfast is quick and tasty, lunch sometimes not at all and a snack could be fruits like apples, oranges and bananas.  Smoothies might hit part of the mid morn.  I always key on flavor and speed.  But when I eat at the end of the day, I like to interact at home and have fun with what I make.  I want it fast and simple but with YUM as the outcome.  I aim for, ' Please sir, can I have some more! '  as my goal, the engaging response to learning and loving how to make food fantastically delicious.  It does not always succeed but that is the learning curve of having fun learing to make your own tasty meals.

My body smart food keeps my weight level, my sleep comfortable and inventory low and inexpensive.  Heavy dishes and complicated food is not my style. I get while it is and was all developed.  But now in my process of developing Vegetable Alchemy I have redefined my cabinets to highly nutritious, simple, flavor centered ingredients with a refrigerator that balances with essential vegetables and occasional fresh herbs.  When I want to add any kind of protein I shop  for it that day.

Constantly I read and hear of the challenge of getting food on the table.  I see the recipe sites offering scaled down versions of the same key work recipes over and over saying that these buzz words are what the consumer want.  Beware.  Preparing a variety of simple dishes is educational as much as mentally.  If you view it as a chore, then it will be.  If it makes you aggrivated, chose a box.  Vegetable Alchemy views eating body smart food as part of a lifestyle that integrates simple great tasting food into a little weekly workout for a good feeling body.  Love the colors, the flavors, the learning of knife skills, the understanding of technique and then plating the results and you will find yourself thinking: Lifestyle, not just recipes. I feel so good!  Happy Thursday.

Easy Sesame Noodles

Prep Time:   20 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes
Serves:            2

8        oz.        cooked linguini pasta, seasoned with salt and pepper, tossed with 2 Tbls olive oil
2       teas        fresh ginger, grated
1                     cucumber, lightly peeled and cut into thin strips (julienne) no seeds
2        Tbl       cilantro, fresh, coarsely chopped
1        Tbl       basil or mint, cut into thin strips (julienne)
3-4                  Napa Cabbage leaves
3                     scallions, just into thin rounds
2        Tbl       apple cider vinegar
1/4     cup       chunky peanut butter
1        teas       tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1        teas       sesame oil
pinch              sugar
pinch              red pepper flakes
1                     lime, cut into 6 wedges
1     teas          sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Toss the linguini and ginger in a bowl and set aside.  Place a sheet of paper towel on a small plate or tray and lay out in stacks the cucumber, cilantro, basil, cabbage and scallions.  Make and warm a dressing by stirring the vinegar, peanut butter tamari, sesame oil and sugar with 1 Tbl of water in a small microwavable bowl.  Cover and micrwave 30 seconds.  Stir and repeat.

To plate, arrange 4 ounces of the gingered pasta in large soup plates.  Neatly arrange the vegetables and herbs around the pasta.  Spoon even amounts of sauce around the dish and garnish with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, lime wedges and sesame seeds on each.  Gewurtraminer is a great tasty treat to accompany this dish.

# 69 Beef and Broccoli

Chinese guy and his wife are in bed one night after working hard all day at their restaurant.  About 2 am. he still can't sleep, rolls over and shakes his wife saying, " why you no kiss me anymore? "  she grunts and says to go back to bed.  He does but minutes later he turns back and shakes her again, saying " why you no make love to me anymore?"  She is aggrivated but says little and repeats to go back to bed.  He can't and finally demands, " Why you no 69 me anymore? "  Now she is pissed and sits up and shouts, " What, What, What?  You want a  Beef and Broccoli at this time of night ? " 
Regardless of what # 69 is to each of you, Beef and Broccoli is a good meal!  This is a rendition adapted from a friend, a little heavier on the broccoli and a little less on the beef.  Kisses, love and more are sure to come your way.....but cook it right first!

Beef and Broccoli
Prep Time:   15 minutes
Cook Time   10 minutes
Serves:          2

1    Tbl    soy sauce
1    teas    cornstarch
2   Tbl     vegetable oil, divided
2    cl       garlic, chopped fine
2    Tbl    ginger, fresh, peeled and chopped fine
1    cup    flank steak, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2    cup    broccoli, fleurettes cut into 1 inch pieces, stems trimmed and cut the same
2    Tbl    dry white wine
2    Tbl    oyster sauce
1    cup     steamed rice (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Be sure to trim the stems of the broccoli from its outter tough green layer.  Then cut into 1 inch pieces.

Mix the soy sauce with the cornstarch, two teaspoons of the oil and stir in the garlic, ginger. and beef.  Season lightly with cracked fresh pepper.  Heat a 10 inch wok or skillet to medium high.  Add the remaining oil.  Add the beef mixture and cook, stiring until rare.  Add the broccoli and stir.  Add the wine, oyster sauce and one tbl water.  Stir and cook 2-3 minutes or until the broccoli is cooked but still crisp.  Season with salt and pepper if needed.  Plate over steamed rice.
ENJOY your # 69.

Summer Extras Built into Glory

Food Trucks are the craze right now.   But a lot of times after being pelted daily with all the attempts at grabbing customers and sales and the excitement heading to the newest thing, the fantastic pleasure of being able to cook a quick dinner is empowering, reasonably priced and just plain enjoyable.  Last night I avoided the truck scene and headed back to ' engage the range ' for a dinner for two. 

In the frig there was little of one thing, but not a lot of any, so I figure out this simple Summer Stirfry which came together step by step like the Phoenix.  Learning to put together flavors through trial and error is a fun journey.  You cannot be afraid of failing, you just have to go at it with gusto. Add a little patience and attentiveness and you tip the balance of failure to success. This is one of the successes that gives you  a chance to practice your knife skills.

Quick Summer Stirfry
Prep Time:    20 minutes
Cook Time:   10 minutes
Serves:           2

2    Tbl   olive oil
1/2        Spanish, white or red onion, cut into half moons
2    cl     garlic
1    cup    zucchini rounds, cut into half moons,
1    cup    yellow squash rounds, cut into half moons
1/2 cup  broccoli, stems and fleurettes, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1            new potato, medium size, skin on cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup  Napa Cabbage, cut into 2 inch pieces, or other leafy green like Kale or Chard
1/2 can  Norther White Beans, drained but not washed
1    Tbl   tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup  scallions, trimmed of stem and cut into 1 inch pieces
2    Tbl   fresh green herb such as cilantro, basil, parsley or oregano
2    Tbl  toasted bread crumb, (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat a 10 inch wok or skillet to medium. 
Add the oil.  When hot, add the onion and garlic and stir.  Add the next five ingredients and stir.
Add 1/2 water and the tamari.  Shake the pan
and partially cover, simmering 2-3 minutes more.  Stir the beans and scallions.  Partially recover and cook  2-3 minutes.  Season.  Stir.  Cook uncovered about 2 minutes. Plate to medium size bowls.