Black Bean Sopes with Guac Pico

Sopes with black bean puree

Black Bean Sopes with Guac Pico

This is a tasty dish that is sure to please anyone who loves southwestern style cooking. Or, actually, for anyone that loves to eat! This recipe came about because I was trying to find more uses for masa harina. I can only get the 5 pound bag of Maseca, so I have bunches to use up. I use the corn flour in my cornbread recipe, but I don’t make nearly enough corn bread! I know, shame on me.

Other uses for masa harina are tamales and corn tortillias. However, I don’t make enough of those either. After I was served sopes at a little Mexican restaurant, I knew what I would use that Maseca for! Sopes!

I was never fond of the plain, masa dough sopes. They needed lots more flavor. I worked on that until I achieved a taste that my family liked. Using broth instead of water and jazzing it up with some spices was an easy fix. Give this dish a try. Maybe with a nice cerveza or margarita.

The ingredient list –

Sopes ingredients

Black Bean Sopes ingredients

You’ll need instant corn masa flour – Maseca is a readily available brand, 2 cans of black beans, vegetable broth, onion, tomato, avocado, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and, salt & pepper.

First, make the sopes. Combine the masa with the cumin, salt,

masa mix

masa, cumin & salt

water and vegetable broth. Fold until it’s mixed well. It’s a light and fluffy dough.

mixed masa

masa mixed

It’s ready when you can shape it into a large ball and it stays like that.

ready masa

holds it’s shape

Add more broth if it doesn’t hold together. Pinch off chunks and roll them into golf ball sized, dough balls. You should get 12.

masa dough balls

Masa dough balls

Cover a flat, sturdy surface with a piece of parchment paper.

masa ball

ready to mash

Place a masa ball in the center, cover with another sheet of parchment paper

covered masa ball

cover it up

and mash down with a heavy pot or cast iron skillet.

masa harina

Flatten it

You don’t want to mash it paper thin. You want about a 1/4 inch thick.

flattened sope

Mashed sope

After you flatten it, it should be about 4 inches around.


4 inch sopes

Now, you’re ready to fry them. Add a small amount of oil to a large skillet. Using medium heat, fry the sopes in batches of 4.

sopes in skillet

Four sopes in a skillet

Turn after 3 or 4 minutes, or when golden brown.

golden sopes

Flip when golden brown

Repeat the process, adding more oil as needed, until they’re all done. Drain on a paper towel lined sheet pan and keep warm in a 200º oven.

Tray of sopes

All fried up.

Now, onto the black beans. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large saucepan. Drop in 1 cup of diced onions. Saute them over low heat until they’re clear, about 3 minutes.

onions sauteeing

saute the onions

While the onions are doing their thing, drain and rinse off the black beans.

rinse and drain the blackbeans

drain and rinse the black beans

Back to the onions, add in the diced garlic and cook another minute.

sauteed garlic

add in the garlic

Add in the drained and rinsed black beans, the cumin, salt and pepper.

spiced black beans

add in the spices

Pour in the vegetable broth and stir it all up.

black beans

Add in the broth

Take a masher and mash the black bean mix slightly, leaving some whole beans.

mashed black beans

mash the black beans

Simmer the mashed beans over low, until needed to assemble the sopes. Add small amounts of broth to keep the beans from drying out, if necessary.

Finally, we make the guac pico. Regular pico or salsa would be fine here, too, but adding an avocado just makes it extra special. Dice a half cup of sweet onions.

diced onion

Dice the onion

Chop up a tomato.

chopped tomato for pico

chopped tomato for pico

And the cilantro, too.

chopped cilantro

chop the cilantro

Dump them all into a bowl with the garlic – I use jarred garlic, but, please use fresh if you want. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

guac pico

the bowl for the guac pico.

Remove the pit and peel from an avocado. Chop it up and add it to the pico bowl.


Chop up and avocado

Cut a lime in half and squeeze the juice from one half, over the guac pico.

lime half

Half a lime

Stir the guac pico with a fork, mashing it slightly as you do.

pico guac

guac pico

Time for assembly. Place on or two sope patties on a plate. Top with a half cup of mashed black beans, then finish up with a healthy dollop of guac pico. Serve with additional lime slices, if desired. Chow down. I served this with zoodles. Zucchini noodles made with a handy vegetable spiralizer.

Sopes with black beans and guac pico

Sopes with black beans and guac pico

Black Bean Sopes with Guac Pico
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Southwestern cuisine
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
A delicious introduction to Sopes and the many, wonderful flavors of the Southwest.
  • For the sopes:
  • 2 ½ cups instant corn masa flour, such as Maseca
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • oil for frying
  • For the black beans:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion
  • 2 teaspoons diced garlic
  • 2 cans -15.5 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • For the guac pico:
  • ½ cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 diced tomato
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon diced garlic
  • 1 diced avocado
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Combine the masa, cumin, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the vegetable broth and water. Fold over until well combined. The mix will be light and airy, but will hold together when gathered into a ball. Pull off chunks of the masa mix, and roll into about 12 golf ball sized, dough balls. Cover a flat surface with a piece of parchment paper. Place a ball of masa on the paper, cover with another sheet of parchment paper and flatted with a heavy pot or skillet. You want them to be about ¼ thick and a 3 to 4 inch circle. Repeat with the other masa balls, keeping both covered to prevent drying out. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry sopes in batches of four, turning after 3-4 minutes, or when golden brown. Drain on paper towel and keep warm in a 200º oven, while cooking the remaining sopes.
  2. While sopes are frying, make the black beans. In a saucepan, over a medium heat, add in the tablespoon of olive oil and the diced onions. Saute about 2 to 3 minutes, until onions are clear. Add in the diced garlic and saute for another minute. Then, add in the black beans, the broth, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix well. Mash the bean mix until mostly mashed, with some whole beans remaining. Simmer bean mix over low, until needed for sopes assembly. Add more vegetable broth, if the bean mix dries out.
  3. For the guac pico, mix the diced onion, tomato, cilantro, and garlic together. Add in the diced avocado and lime juice. Mash mixture lightly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To assemble the sopes – place one or two, hot sopes on a plate. Top with a half cup of the black bean mixture. Finish with a generous spoon of the guac pico. Serve with additional lime slices, if desired.
Plate of Sopes with black beans and guac pico

Sopes with black beans and guac pico plated

Glazed Cranberry and Orange Bundt Cake

Glazed Cranberry & Orange Bundt Cake

Glazed Cranberry & Orange Bundt Cake

You’ve made the cranberry orange sauce and it’s chilling out in your fridge, right? You’ve got leftover cranberries and oj, too. Maybe no on the oj but yes on the cranberries. You can freeze the whole berries and use them later. Or, you can make this awesome cake for the centerpiece of your holiday dessert table. Sure, you’ll have pumpkin pie, or cherry or apple or shoo-fly pie. That’s all fine and dandy for the pie addicts, but what about us cake people! Let us eat cake! This cake, as a matter of fact! Pretty to look at, even better to eat! So, take pity on the cake lovers in your house and bake a cake. We’ll love you all the more.

Let’s get crackin’ some eggs! The line up.

cake ingredients

The starting line up.

Start off by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Put the rack in the bottom third of the oven. Grease a 10 inch bundt or tube cake pan

grease the pan

A little dab will do ya!

and then sprinkle a little sugar in it. Roll it around to coat and them dump out the rest.

sugared pan

Just sugar coat it.

That’s my big, cake baking tip. Don’t grease and flour your pans. Use sugar instead. Speaking of flour, measure out 3 cups of flour.


3 cups

Measure out the salt, baking soda and baking powder.

salt, baking soda and baking powder

salt, baking soda and baking powder

Then, dump them into the flour and mix them up. Set it to the side.

flour mix

all nice and fluffy

Now, measure out 1/2 cup each of milk and orange juice,

milk and oj

Milk and oj

and mix them together, and set it aside, too.

Now, get out your mixer. Dump in the sugar and the coconut oil.

oil and sugar

coconut oil and sugar

Flip the switch and cream them together. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing between eggs.

add eggs

add eggs

Time to add the milk mix –

add liquids

add a little wet

and the flour mix –

add flour mix

and a little dry

Add it by 1/3’s. It’s a thick batter, so this ensures that everything gets incorporated. While that’s mixing – chop your cranberries.

Chopped cranberries

Chopped cranberries

They just need a rough chop. You don’t even have to get them all. However, you do have to go chase down the ones that flew off the cutting board and onto the floor. Except the one that the cat batted under the couch. We’ll get it later. Add the berries to the cake batter.

add the cranberries

dump the berries in

Fold it all together.

folding in the berries

fold in the cranberries

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out.

Add the batter to the pan

Batter up!

Bake it for 30 minutes, then, test it with a cake tester or pick. If no batter is sticking to it, you’re done. If it’s still wet, bake another 5 to 10 minutes and check again. Done yet? Good! Take it out to cool.

baked cranberry cake

Inhale deeply!

Let it cool for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife if necessary, and then flip it out onto a serving platter.

cake on plate

Let it cool.

While the cake is cooling, it’s time to make the glaze. It’s just a simple, sugar glaze. Measure out a cup of powdered sugar. I sifted mine, it was lumpy. Kinda like me.

powdered sugar

cuppa sugar

Measure out 2 tablespoons of orange juice.

orange juice

a little oj

You may need it all, but start with 1 tablespoon first. Pour it into the cup of sugar and stir. Add more juice as necessary to get an even, flowing glaze.

orange glaze

Go with the flow

When the cake is cool, start drizzling on the glaze.

glazing the cake

Round one

Keep going until you’re out of glaze.

glazing the cake

keep on glazing

Let it drip off and puddle around the cake. That’s the good stuff. Mmmmm. You can garnish the cake with whatever you want. I used orange zest strips and sugared cranberries (recipe here) It says to keep the berries in the fridge overnight. Nope. Just let them sit in the hot simple syrup for about 20 minutes in the covered pot. Drain them – save that syrup for other uses – and let them sit in the colander for a couple of minutes. Then, roll them around in some superfine granulated sugar. Let them dry for about 20 minutes, then pile on the cake! Or just pop them in your mouth. They are just that good.

sugared cranberries

Sugared cranberries

Set this beautiful cake in the center of your dessert table and let all the pies go unnoticed.

Glazed Cranberry & Orange Bundt Cake

Beautiful, inside and out!

Glazed Cranberry & Orange Bundt Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
A moist and delicious bundt cake popping with tangy cranberries and a hint of oranges.
  • For the cake-
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • For the glaze-
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice, or as needed.
  1. For the cake-
  2. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a 10 inch bundt or tube cake pan and coat with white sugar, dumping out excess.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Combine the milk and orange juice. Set aside.
  4. Using a mixer, add the coconut oil and sugar to a large bowl and beat together until creamed. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until well combined. Using a third at a time, add in the flour mix and the milk juice mix. Beat at low speed until combined. Fold in the chopped cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center, comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate and cool completely.
  6. For the Glaze-
  7. In a small bowl, combine the cup of powdered sugar with 1 Tablespoon of the orange juice. Mix well, adding more juice as needed to make a pourable glaze. Spoon glaze over cooled cake. Garnish as desired.
  8. Sugared Cranberry how to.
awesome cake slice

Yum yum!

Whole cranberry orange sauce

cran orange sauce

Gobble gobble

It’s that time of year again. You know what I’m talking about. The holiday that gets squeezed in between Halloween candy sales and the onslaught of Christmas goods. Thanksgiving! Time for pies, and sweet potato casserole – hold the marshmallows, thank you – smashed taters, vegetable tarts & terrines, bread and my absolute favorite, dressing! I know there’s a big debate about whether it’s called stuffing or dressing. My opinion, for what it’s worth, if you pile it in another ingredient – say a squash, eggplant, zucchini or other  vegetable, then it’s stuffing. If you pile it into a casserole dish and bake, it’s dressing. Anyhow, dressing needs cranberry sauce. It needs it. Or, maybe I just need it. Confession time. I am a cranberry sauce junkie. Growing up, we only had the canned plop. It was okay, I guess. I could never get past the can ridges that were embedded along the sides. They were always there because everyone just slid that baby out of the can and onto a plate. Can imprints. Yuck. Throw away the can! You can make your own whole berry cranberry sauce! It’s the easiest thing to do. You will exert more effort using the can opener. Put it away and buy a bag of cranberries. You’re halfway to the best cranberry sauce you’ve ever tasted.

And, it’s time for another confession. My mother in law loves the stuff. It brings back memories of her childhood, when her mother made it. She used the canned stuff when my husband was growing up. The first time she had Thanksgiving dinner with us and had the fresh made stuff? Yeah, baby, you know who’s the favorite daughter in law now, uh huh! We’ll be out of town this year, so, being the darling that I am, I made her a batch to keep in her fridge, so she won’t do without.

Here we go!

whole cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce ingredients

You’ll need 4 cups of fresh cranberries. My co-op was offering these cranberries. The clamshell reads, Sandhill Cranberry LLC, Wisconsin. This amused me. See, sandhill cranes are a migratory bird. So, it’s feasible that the birds that wade in their cranberry bogs, are the same that pick over my garden in central Florida.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes, sorry. Not much left.

You’ll also need one cup each of orange juice and sugar.

sugar, oj and berries

Measure it all out.

Rinse off the berries. Pour the OJ into a medium sized sauce pan and dump the cup of sugar on top.

OJ AND sugar

If you’re doing what you ought to, you pour the sugar – wait, that’s not how it goes.

Heat until boiling, giving a stir, to help the sugar dissolve.

boiling sugar in oj

Boil the mixture

Then, dump in the cranberries.


Add the berries

Return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll hear the berries pop. They’re supposed to.

cranberry sauce with OJ

Foam is ok.

It will get foamy. Don’t worry, it’s all good. That foam will settle back down while it cools. When your 5 minute timer dings, remove the pot from the stove and let it cool off.

cranberry sauce

Too hot!

Once it’s cool, pour it into a pretty dish and serve. That’s it. Super simple, isn’t it. You can make this a week ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator. When the day comes, just serve it up in a dish with a couple of cute orange peel strips. I have pictured this with our *official* cranberry sauce utensil. It makes an appearance, tarnish and all, just for homemade cranberry sauce. I have no idea what it’s real purpose it. That’s the fun of it. Get yourself an official cranberry sauce spoonish type thing and enjoy!

Whole Cranberry Orange Sauce

Whole Cranberry Orange Sauce

Whole cranberry orange sauce
Recipe type: sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
A delicious blend of cranberries and orange juice.
  • 12 ounces or 4 cups of fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. In a medium saucepan bring the orange juice and sugar to a boil. Add the cranberries and keep at a full boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into a serving dish, cover and refrigerate until needed. Keeps in the fridge for up to a month. Can be frozen, too.


Zombie Eyeball Cookies

Zombie Eyeball Cookies

Zombie Eyeball Cookies

Are you going to have a little spooky soiree? Do you need to send a tray of treats to school. Are ya just hungry? I am. Hungry, that is. Hungry for some cookies! These gory, little blobs of goodness are easy to throw together. I based this recipe on those monster eye cookies that float across the web. I really didn’t like them because they had cream cheese as an ingredient. Dude! Cream cheese goes on bagels, or pastries or, I don’t know, how about CHEESECAKE? Not cookies. Not Zombie eyeball cookies, anyhow. I did like that they are made out of a cake mix. That’s very handy. No need to measure out flour or sugar. Just dump it in the bowl with some eggs, oil & vanilla extract. So, that’s what I did and now you can do it too!

The beginning of our cookies:

Zombie ingred

Cookie ingredients

You’ll need a box of white cake mix, 2 eggs, vegetable oil, butter, vanilla extract, green and yellow food coloring, red and black edible food markers, a tube of red decorating gel, a cup of white sugar to roll the dough balls in, and some yogurt covered raisins or peanuts. There are premade candy eyeballs available, but read your labels. Most contain gelatin. This is why I chose to use yogurt covered candies.

Get out a couple of cookie pans. I use silicone mats on mine. You can use those or parchment paper or just use nothing. You’ll need 2 pans for the 24 cookies that we’re making. Set up your mixer. Add the butter to the work bowl and cream it.

creaming butter

Cream the butter

Scrape down the bowl and add in the eggs, vanilla and oil.

Add the eggs, vanilla & oil

Add the eggs, vanilla & oil

Mix it up.

mixing cake

Mix it.

Now, add in the box of cake mix.

add the cake mix

add the cake mix

Mix it until it’s well combined, pausing to scrape the goo off the sides. It’s going to be thick, like mashed potatoes.

cookie dough

Not mashed potatoes

Now, divide the dough into two bowls.

cookie dough

A dough divided can not be beaten.

Starting with one drop at a time,

tint dough

One drop to start

tint one bowl yellow.

yellow cookie dough

it’s really yella

Then, one drop for the green –

tinting green dough

One drop of the green

and mix it up. I started out with a fork, then went to the spoon to finish it.

Green cookie dough

Not lime sherbet.

It’s time to chill the dough for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes have passed, preheat the oven to 350º. While the dough is chillin’, we can make the eyeball centers. Get the candies and the edible food markers.

making eyeball centers

It’s eyeball making time.

I used two different brands of markers, Wilton and Americolor. I prefered the Americolor. It had a long, fine tip, whereas the Wilton one was bluntish. You may have more available to you. Anyhow, get out about two dozen candies. You might have to eat a few booboos, but you can manage. Put a black dot in the center of each candy. Then, use the red edible marker to make squiggly lines out from the black dots on half of the candies. Or all of them, if you want. Set them aside, while you go fuss with the cookie dough.

candy eyes

Why do I feel like somebodys watching me?

Get out the chilled cookie dough. You’ll need a tablespoon or a scooper about that size. I use those scoops for so many things, so very handy to have. Scoop some cookie dough and plop it in the dish of sugar, that you so cleverly have ready.

yellow cookie balls

Roll in the sugar

Roll them around until they are well coated, then place on the cookie sheet


dough balls on tray

dough balls on tray

and bake for about 10 minutes. They are done, when the bottoms are slightly brown.



Let them cool on the baking sheets for about two minutes, then remove them to a tray. Push a candy center into each cookie while they are still warm. Don’t move the candy center after it’s in there, it’ll be melty.

Cookie eyes

Bug eyes

Now, do the green.

more cookie eyes

They’re multiplying.

Let them cool completely. Get out the red decorating gel.

Red decorating gel

Red decorating gel

Using the gel, start at the center, by the candy piece and make some squiggly bloodshot eyeball veins. Yuck, huh?

eyeball vein cookies

Are you gellin’?

Let them rest for a couple of hours to set the gel. That is some sticky stuff. It’s gets everywhere. Then, set them on a nice party tray and decorate appropriately. And remember to give one of the little bony guys a cookie. He’ll be too full of cookies to eat YOU!

Zombie Eyeball Cookies

Eat a cookie, put some meat on them bones!

Zombie Eyeball Cookies
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: undead
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 dozen
A scary, spooky zombie eyeball cookie easily made from a packaged cake mix and candies.
  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • ½ cup butter – room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons of oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Yellow and green food color
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 20 yogurt covered raisins or yogurt covered peanuts
  • Red and Black edible food markers
  • 1 tube of red decorating gel. Approx size, 1 oz.
  1. You'll need two baking sheets, either lined with a silicone mat or left ungreased.
  2. For the cookies:
  3. Cream butter. Add eggs, oil and vanilla. Mix for 30 seconds. Add in the cake mix. Mix, pausing to scrape down sides, until well combines. Divide batter into two bowls. Starting with 1 drop, add enough food color to reach the shade you desire. Tint one bowl yellow, and the other green. Chill dough for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes have passed, preheat your oven to 350º.
  4. Pour the cup of white sugar into a wide, shallow dish. Using either a tablespoon or a scooper of that size, scoop balls of cookie dough and drop into the sugar. Roll the dough balls to coat and place 2 inches apart, on a prepared baking sheet. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until done. Let cool on the sheet for 2 minutes. Remove to a tray and push one candy piece into the center of each cookie. Do not try to move candies once they have been pushed into the cookies. Let the cookies continue to cool for an additional 5 minutes. Using the tube of red decorating gel, add some bloodshot eye veins to each cookie. Start at the edge of the candy center and squeeze a zig-zag line out to the cookie edge.
  5. For the decorations:
  6. While the cookie dough is chilling, get out 20 yogurt covered raisins or peanuts. Using the black food marker, color a small dot in the center of each candy. Using the red food marker, draw squiggly lines, leading away from the center dot, like in bloodshot eyes. Set the completed candies aside.
  7. Place finished Zombie Eyeball Cookies on a decorative tray and goblin them up!


Zombie Eyeball Cookies

Zombie Eyeball Cookies

Flaky Vegetable Squares or Vegetables en Croute

An Elegant Vegetarian Thanksgiving Entree

Flaky Vegetable Squares

Vegetables en Croute

I bet you thought I’d forgot about this. I didn’t. See, funny things happen when you try to shoot photos for a blog. The colors don’t always come out right. Or a bug appears in the middle of your plate. Or, as with me, you’re just not happy. Not with the pictures, not with the recipe. So, you start over. You work on the recipe. Fix it three times in two weeks. Oh, how my family suffers for my art. They have to eat all the mistakes and practice recipes. They suffer, I tell you!

Assemble all your ingredients.

Flaky vegetable squares ingredients

Flaky vegetable squares ingredients

Or most of them. I always seem to forget something.

Chop up the cauliflower. Count out 20 florets and set aside in a small bowl. Not 19 or 21 florets, 20!

20 cauliflower florets

Put the rest of the cauliflower into a large bowl. Clean and slice the leek. You’ll need 5, one inch slices. Put those in the large, cauliflower bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil, some salt and pepper and give a toss. Spread them out on a large baking sheet.

cauliflower on tray

Ready to roast

Now, cut the tops off of the garlic heads, place on foil square, and drizzle with 1/2 tsp oil.

Garlic heads

Garlic heads

Wrap the foil around the garlic. Put the garlic on the pan with the cauliflower and roast in a 425º oven for 30 – 45 minutes. Flip them all over at the halfway mark, so they get nice and browned on both sides. Don’t flip the garlic. All the oil will spill out and you don’t want that to happen. After the leeks and cauliflower are browned and tender, remove the pan from the oven and set it aside to cool.

Roast cauliflower and leeks

Roast leeks and cauliflower

Open the foil around the garlic so it can cool some, too.

Oven roast garlic

Oven roast garlic

I turn my oven off after I pull the pan out. It takes another 20 minutes of preparation before you’ll be ready for it again, so if you want to keep it on or turn it off, it’s up to you. While the garlic is still warm, squeeze garlic pulp from each clove into a food processor.

work bowl

roasted veg in processor

Add cauliflower mixture and 1 tsp Tamari soy sauce, and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set the puree aside.

Cauliflower puree

Cauliflower puree

You can do all this part ahead of time and put the puree in the fridge until you are really to continue with the dish. Just pull it out, so it can come to room temperature while you are working on the rest of the recipe. This would be a great time to get the puff pastry out of the refrigerator, too.

Chop the head of broccoli into florets. Halve the carrot lengthwise, then cut into half moons. Take the remaining leek part, cut in half lengthwise, and then into 1/4 inch strips. Pile all this into a bowl and dump in the mushrooms.


ready to sautee

Place a large fry pan on the stove over medium high heat. Swirl in the oil and dump in the mixed vegetables and stir fry. While they are cooking, combine the wine, cornstarch, Tamari soy sauce, thyme, salt, & pepper, in small bowl and stir until cornstarch has dissolved.

wine and cornstarch mix

wine and cornstarch mixture

When the veggie mix is fork tender and browned, after about 5 to 7 minutes, pour in the cornstarch mixture and stir a couple of minutes until thickened. Remove from stove and let cool.

vegetables with sauce

vegetables with sauce

Remove a large roasted red pepper from the jar. Spread it out and pat dry. Cut into 16 thin strips. Set aside.

sliced roast red pepper

sliced roast red pepper

Now, unfold the puff pastry on a work surface. Roll it flat into a 12 inch square. Cut the square into 4 smaller squares and put on a lined baking sheet. Chill the dough for 15 minutes to get ready for the next step. Heat your oven to 425º.

various filling stages

puree, then vegetables, then pepper strips

Spread 1/4 cup of the cauliflower puree in the center of each pastry. Top the puree with a scoop of the vegetable mix. Arrange 2 red pepper strips on each pastry, laying one strip from top to bottom and the other from side to side.


First fold, corner to corner

Fold corners of pastry squares over vegetable filling and into center, pinching corners to seal.


Second fold, corner to corner

Brush pastry squares with a lightly beaten egg-white

pastry egg wash

egg wash on pastry

and bake for 12 -15 minutes until they are nice a browned. Let rest for 5 minutes. Now, go wow your guests with your magnificent Vegetables en Croute!

Vegetables en Croute

Flaky vegetable squares

Flaky Vegetable Squares or Vegetables en Croute
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Tender roasted vegetables wrapped in a flaky pastry.
  • 1 large head cauliflower (2 to 3 lbs), cut into small florets, divided, setting aside 20 florets.
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets. About 2 cups of florets.
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthwise, then cut into half moons.
  • 1 8oz pkg sliced white mushrooms.
  • 1 leek. Clean the leeks. Cut off the root bottom and the dark green leaves, so you end up with the white and light green parts only. Slice into 5 - 1 inch rounds, set aside. Slice the remainder in half lengthwise, and then into ¼ inch strips.
  • 1 large roasted red pepper from jar. Pat dry and slice into 16 thin strips. Use as many peppers as necessary.
  • 3 Tbs. plus ½ tsp. olive oil, divided
  • salt and ground black pepper, as needed
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 2 tsp Tamari soy sauce, divided
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, stripped off the stems
  • 1 17.3-oz pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed (2 sheets)
  • 1 egg white, beaten, for brushing dough
  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Set aside 20 cauliflower florets in bowl. Toss remaining cauliflower florets and 5 leek rounds with 1 Tbs oil. Season with 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Spread on large baking sheet. Cut tops off garlic heads, place on foil square, and drizzle with ½ tsp oil. Close foil around garlic. Place foil wrapped garlic and cauliflower loaded baking sheet in oven, and roast 30-45 minutes, stirring cauliflower halfway through cooking time, until cauliflower and leeks are browned and fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  2. At this point, you can turn your oven off or leave it on while you prepare the rest – it will take about 20 minutes.
  3. While garlic is still warm, squeeze garlic pulp from each clove into work bowl of a food processor. Add cauliflower mixture and 1 tsp Tamari soy sauce, and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside.
  4. Combine wine, cornstarch, remaining 1 tsp Tamari soy sauce, thyme, ¼ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp pepper, in small bowl and stir until cornstarch has dissolved. Set aside.
  5. Heat remaining 2 Tbs oil in a large skillet over medium- high heat. Add broccoli florets, carrots, reserved 20 cauliflower florets, mushrooms, and sliced leeks, and stir-fry 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables begin to brown. Add cornstarch mixture, and stir-fry 1-2 minutes more, or until most of liquid has evaporated and vegetables are coated with sauce. Remove from heat, and cool.
  6. Remove a large roasted red pepper from the jar. Spread it out and pat dry. Cut into 16 thin strips. Set aside.
  7. Meanwhile, roll each sheet of puff pastry into 12-inch square on floured work surface. Cut each sheet into 4 squares, and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill 15 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Spread ¼ cup cauliflower puree in a circle in center of each pastry


Mushroom Stew in Bread Bowls


vegetarian mushroom stew in bread bowls

Mushroom Stew in Bread Bowls

An easy, elegant vegetarian starter to your holiday meal.

A common reaction from your friends after they hear that you’ve gone veg, is – What do you eat? I tell them, I don’t know about you, but I eat food. What, lettuce? – I hear back. Nope, I eat hearty, healthy foods. This mushroom stew is a perfect example of that. It’s got the 3 H’s covered. Hot, Hearty & Healthy! It’s got a couple of yummys thrown in, too. Plus, it presents beautifully. So, if you want to impress your guests and family, serve them this beautiful, flavorful stew.                                                        The line up for this dish.  

Mushroom stew ingredients

Mushroom stew ingredients

 Dump the dried porcini into a bowl and add the 1 cup of boiling water. Give it a stir and set it aside to soak for 10 minutes.

dried porcini mushrooms soaking

soaking the dry porcini mushrooms

Don’t get ahead of yourself and dump that mushroom flavored liquid out. You are going to need it.

Take the Kaiser rolls, I used whole wheat, and using a serrated knife, slice the tops off. Using your fingers, pull out enough bread from the roll to make a hollowed out bowl.

Hollowed out bread rolls

Hollowed out bread rolls.

Save the pulled out bread for making stuffings or your own panko crumbs. If you can’t find Kaiser rolls, any large bun will do. You want it to be 4 to 5 inches across and at least 3 inches thick. Using a pastry brush, brush a layer of oil on the bread bowls and the tops.

oil on bread bowls

Brush on the olive oil.

Place in a 400º degree oven for about 5 minutes, until light gold and crispy. Set them aside.

toasted bread bowls

Toasted bread bowls.

Slice up all the white, shiitake and baby bella mushrooms and put in a bowl.

chopped mushrooms

Chopped white, shiitake and baby bella mushrooms.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped scallions. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, add in the diced garlic and cook, stirring for an additional 2 minutes.

sauteed scallions and garlic

Sauteed scallions and garlic.

Dump in the fresh mushrooms and cook,

cooking the mushrooms

Add in the fresh mushrooms.

stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.

the cooked mushrooms

cooked and ready for the next step

Scoop the procini out of the liquid and drain on paper towels. Chop up the porcini. Strain the soaking liquid through a lined sieve.

mushroom broth

Straining the flavorful mushroom broth.

Pour the mushroom liquid to the cooked mushrooms in the pan. Add in the chopped porcini. Raise the heat to high and cook for 5 minutes.

adding tomatoes, basil, broth

Add in the tomatoes, vegetable broth, basil, salt & pepper.

Add in the chopped tomatoes, broth, basil, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. While it’s boiling, add in the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring until slightly thickened. About 1 minute more. Stir in the parsley. Spoon the stew into the bread bowls. Sprinkle with the shaved cheese and replace tops. Eat, enjoy!

mushroom stew

Vegetarian Mushroom Stew in a Toasted Bread Bowl.

Recipe time!

Mushroom Stew in Bread Bowls
Recipe type: Main course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 4 Kaiser rolls or any roll 4 to 5 inches across and 3 inches thick
  • 1 ounce package of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 2 scallions or green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely diced garlic
  • 8 to 10 ounce package white mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounce package baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 ounce package of shiitake mushrooms, sliced with stems discarded
  • 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth, divided
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup shaved Organic Valley swiss or Cabot monterey jack cheese for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Place the dried porcini mushrooms into a small bowl and pour in the boiling water. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Using a serrated knife, slice the tops off the rolls. Using your fingers, carefully pull out enough bread to create a bowl like indention. Using 1 tablespoon of oil, brush the insides of the bread bowl and the undersides of the tops. Place the bread bowls and tops on a baking sheet and bake until light gold and crisp, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to a large skillet. Using medium heat, sauté the scallions for a minute, then add the diced garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the white, shiitake and baby portabella mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Scoop the soaked porcini mushrooms out of the liquid and drain on paper towels. Coarsely chop the porcini. Strain the porcini liquid through a lined sieve and add into the pan, along with the chopped porcini. Increase the heat to high and cook 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, broth, basil, salt and pepper and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. While it's boiling, add in the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring until slightly thickened. About 1 minute. Stir in parsley. Spoon the stew into the bread bowls, sprinkle with shaved cheese and replace bread tops. Serve.


Brown Rice and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers


Halloween Stuffed Peppers

Halloween stuffed pepper


You’ve seen them on Pinterest, Facebook or someplace else. Those cute stuffed peppers with a carved face, just like a little Jack O’ Lantern. Now, you’re going to see them here, too. Except, this “food with a face” you can eat! A totally vegetarian version of stuffing goes in these babies. And might I just add, a really, really tasty stuffing. I stuffed more of it in me than I did the peppers.

On to the particulars.

Gather the cast and crew.

stuffed pepper ingredients

For mini Jack O’ Lanterns, you will want to use the orange peppers. You’ll notice that a lighter one has snuck into the line up. He just doesn’t spend as much time in the tanning booth as the others.

I’m going to share one of my culinary secrets. I use frozen microwave brown rice. You’re shocked, I can tell. It’s ok, we all have our little short cuts. This is mine. Most recipes call for two cups of cooked rice and guess what? That little bag has two cups in it. Destiny, right? The ingredients are – brown rice, water. Works for me! So, pop that bag in the microwave and cook it. Set it aside to cool down while you clean the peppers.

Carefully cut the tops off the peppers and remove seeds.

Cleaned peppers

Get out your carving tools, mine was a tiny paring knife, and carve little faces into the pepper sides. Don’t hate the yellow guy.

tiny faces

tiny faces

Get out a large mixing bowl. Dump the cooled rice into it. Add in the drained and rinsed black beans.

In a dry sautee pan, over medium heat, toast your chopped walnuts.

toasted walnuts

Don’t wander off. Stay put and give these a stir after a minute. When you smell them, remove from heat and pour into the mixing bowl. Wipe out the pan, add the olive oil and the diced carrots. Saute for about 3 minutes, then add in the diced zucchini.

veggie sautee

Cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into the mixing bowl. Add in the chopped parsley, the crumbled goat cheese and the Italian dressing. Salt and pepper to your liking.

mix it all up


Spoon the stuffing into the peppers. Fill them up and pack it in. Arrange peppers in the baking dish.

Are you lookin’ at me?

Keep the tops off for the first part of baking. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place tops on peppers and return to oven. Bake another 30 minutes or until done.

Don’t eat me!


The toasty walnuts, the creaminess of the goat cheese and the crunch of the pepper. Oh my.

Join me for dinner?


Brown Rice and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers


Serves: 4           Prep time: 20 min       Bake time: 50 min




  • 4 bell peppers – for Halloween, use all orange color
  • 1 pkg of microwave brown rice, cooked according to package instructions, set aside to cool.
  • 1 can black beans, 15 oz or so. Rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup of zucchini, diced.
  • 3/4 cup carrot, diced.
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup Italian oil and vinegar type dressing




Preheat oven to 350º. Spray or grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.C

Carefully cut tops off peppers and remove seeds. For Halloween, carve cute faces into pepper wall. Set aside.

Pour cooled rice in a large mixing bowl. Add in the rinsed and drained black beans.

In a dry sautee pan, over medium heat, toast chopped walnuts. It only takes a few minutes. Remove from pan and add to bowl mixture.

Wipe out pan. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and swirl to coat. Add in the diced carrots and sautee 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the diced zucchini. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add to bowl mixture.

To the mixture in the large bowl, add the crumbled goat cheese, the chopped parsley, and the Italian dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Using a spoon or scoop, stuff the peppers full of the mixture.

Place the stuffed peppers in the baking dish. Keep the top part of the pepper off. Bake stuffed peppers at 350º for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place pepper caps on top and return to oven. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until done. Peppers will sag and the tops will be browned when done.

Another Holiday side dish. Scalloped potatoes and kale

scallop potato and kale gratin

scalloped potatoes and kale


Kale. A leafy, green, stalky, thing. I generally do not like leafy, green, stalky, things. I can narrow that down – I do not like greens. I can grow collards, mustard greens, turnip greens and cook them up just fine. Just don’t expect me to eat them. Nope, not gonna happen.

Funny thing about belonging to a produce co-op, you never know what’s going to be offered. Sometimes, it’s a bonanza for me. Hello, organic shiitake mushrooms! Other times it’s a Buh? Moment. Like kiwiberries. What are those? Well, they’re tiny, kiwi like, berries. I was shocked, I tell you. Kiwis that are a berry! My world has exploded with new and wondrous produce. Then, along came kale. And the kale cheerleaders. “You must try it. Makes delicious chips.” What is it with kale chips? Do they give you super powers? Do you get to belong to a super secret kale club? With a handshake? Try it, they said. You’ll like it, they said. So I did. Try it, that is. No secret hand shake. Dang. No chips were made either. Maybe, they do give you super powers. What is did, was find a recipe and make it my own. Now, you can make it your own, too.

The kale line up.

kale. potatoes, cheese

scalloped potatoes and kale ingredients

Rinse and shake dry the kale. Fold it in half, holding in one hand. With the other hand, pull that stem off. Nobody wants that stuff. Yuk. Now, tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Stuff them all in a larger stock pot. Add in 1/2 cup of water, cover and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Cook until the kale wilts, about 8 minutes. Drain and let cool.

cooked kale

draining the cooked kale

When cool enough to handle, squeeze the excess water out. Fluff and set aside.

Peel and slice the potatoes into thin slices. You’ll want between 4 and 5 cups of sliced potatoes.

potato and kale gratin ingredients

fluffy kale, sliced potatoes, shredded cheese, butter and garlic

A mandoline comes in handy here. I got mine at a thrift store. Amazon has some good ones, too.

Preheat your oven to 425º. Spray or grease a 2qt casserole dish. Spread half the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the dish.

potato layer

potato layer

Next, add all the kale in a layer. Top that with half the shredded cheese, all the garlic and half the butter cubes.

kale and cheese layer

kale, cheese garlic and butter

Arrange the last of the potatoes on top. Then, add the remaining cheese and butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover it all with a cup of milk.

scalloped kale

final layer, adding the milk

I used almond milk. Give the dish a gentle shake to settle it.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender and the cheese has browned. Get a plate and eat that sucker up!

Scalloped kale with potatoes


Scalloped potatoes and kale
Recipe type: casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 1 pound of fresh kale or 1- 10 ounce package of frozen, thawed and squeezed dry.
  • 6 to 10 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin, about 4 to 5 cups.
  • 1 teaspoon of finely diced garlic
  • 1½ cups of grated Organic Valley Baby Swiss cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup milk, almond milk works for this
  • Salt and pepper
  1. If you are using fresh kale, rinse thoroughly and shake dry. Pull kale leaves from stems and rip into smaller pieces. Put kale into a large stock pot with ½ cup of water. Cook over medium high heat for about 8 minutes or until kale wilts. Drain and let cool. When cool, squeeze dry. Fluff and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425º. Spray or grease a 2qt casserole dish. Layer half the potatoes in the bottom of the dish. Spread all of the kale as the next layer. Sprinkle on half the cheese and all the garlic. Dot with half the butter. Arrange the last of the potatoes on top. Then, add the remaining cheese and butter. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Pour the milk evenly over the top and gently shake to settle.
  3. Bake 45 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender and the cheese is browned.


Easy side dishes to wow your Thanksgiving dinner guests! Mashed Cauliflower.

First up, a flavorful smashed cauliflower dish that will make plain, old, mashed potatoes jealous. Plus, it has the bonus of being able to travel, if you need a take & bake dish! This is by far, our favorite side dish.

Gather the cast. Cut the cauliflower into roughly 2 inch chunks. Leave the core on, it will cook just fine. If a small leaf sneaks in there, cook it, too. Rinse it off and add to a large stock pot. Add in a 1/2 cup of water and sprinkle with some salt. You want the cauliflower to steam cook. Get it to boiling over high heat and then cover, reduce heat and steam for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is fork tender. Drain and return to pot.

Put the pot back on the still warm burner. Add in the cubed cream cheese, scallion, shredded cheddar and sour cream. Stir to melt the cheese. Grab a potato masher and mash the dickens out of it. Add salt and pepper to taste. That’s it. No butter, no milk, no kidding!

Spoon the cauliflower mixture into a greased 2qt casserole dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Now, you can either cover the dish and refrigerate until needed, or put this in a 350º oven and bake for 20 minutes or until it’s bubbly and the cheese has browned. Remove and garnish with the reserved scallions. How easy was that? Now, go wow your guests. smashed cauliflower

Cauli Smash

Serves: 6 Prep time: 5 min Total cook time: 30 min


  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 ounces low fat cream cheese – cubed
  • 2 ounces or 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese – divided
  • 1 scallion diced, reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste


Heat oven to 350º. Grease a 2 qt casserole dish.

Cut cauliflower into 2 inch chunks. Rinse off. Put into a large stock pot with 1/2 cup of water and add a sprinkle of salt. Bring to boil over high heat. Cover and reduce to medium. Steam for 10 minutes or until fork tender, stirring halfway through cooking time. Drain and return to pot. Place pot on still warm burner and add the cubed cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sour cream, diced scallion and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Using a potato masher, give it all a rough smash. If you want it really creamy, you can put it in a blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon cauliflower mash into the greased casserole dish. Sprinkle top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and cheese has browned. Remove and top with reserved scallions.