Bean and Veggie Burgers

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Today was such a rewarding day. After a long week of hurrying around I was able to finally getting my hair cut and colored. It was way long over due. I also made a trip to 2 gyms to inquire on prices for membership. Boy! Gym memberships are more expensive here than in Texas, even for a student. Yikes, I mean how are student s supposed to to pay $400 in advance for 7 months of membership? Well, I took advantage of having a FREE pass and worked out for 45 minutes. Looks like I will be sticking to my library workout DVDs, trampoline, and had weights. It is all good. I think it is a test of endurance. I seriously hear a voice saying, "You have discipline. You CAN work out at home." I agreed with the voice. Thanks God. Ryan and I agreed that we could just invest on a elliptical machine since that happens to be both our favorite workout machine. We will see.

The weather was simply gorgeous today so I made sure to catch some Vitamin D rays while working on errands. I came home to have another 30 minutes worth of a dance workout and proceeded to clean house. Do you catch a pattern here? I was moving around and exercising without really planning on it. It felt great! SO what does one have after having such a great day? A healthy veggie sandwich of course. I had been seeing different recipes for veggie burgers and decided that I needed to try it.

A while back I tried a recipe that required the patties to be fried. I did not care for them or the oil it absorbed! The following recipe is so quick and easy to prepare and even bake. You have your lunch within 30 minutes! How about that? I liked this recipe because I knew what ingredients it had. The problem with frozen veggie patties is that they have tons of ingredients and some not appropriate for a vegan. I now have a recipe I can use all the time.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Bean and Veggie Burgersadapted from Oh She Glows

makes 8 patties

1 cup cooked chick peas (or beans of your choice)
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1 small sweet onion, peeled and chopped up into large pieces
1/2 red pepper, chopped into large pieces
1/4 cup spinach, washed
1/2 t dill
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t fine grain sea salt
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 T raw pumpkin seeds
1 T flax meal
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or flour of your choice)

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the patties with olive oil.

Place all ingredients except the seeds and flour into a food processor. Process until mixture is blended well, stopping to scrape sides if necessary.

Remove mixture and place into a large bowl. Add the flax meal and stir well.

Now add the whole wheat flour in 1/4 cup increments, stirring well until blended.

Shape patties and bake for 15 mins at 375F.

Flip and brush the other side with olive oil and bake for another 10 minutes.


Chocolate Chip cookies / Cookie Sandwiches

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
So I stated earlier today that I wished I had a secretary to write up my blog posts. The life as a part-time musician can still be VERY busy especially when married to a full-time musician! This semester, I am involved in 2 choirs, even though I am not a student. I am having a busier semester than I expected but I am still getting to cook even though my posting is not as frequent. I will try better!

Since I have now stocked up my pantry with gluten-free items and great baking ingredients I finally was able to make something out of the Babycakes cookbook this week! About 2 weeks ago I picked up some vegan chocolate chips at Whole Foods so I thought it would be great to make chocolate chip cookies. While this recipe was a gluten-free and vegan recipe I was a little skeptical, but since I have heard SO much about this great bakery located in New York and now in Los Angeles, I decided to give it a whirl.

The end product? These cookies are delicious andhave a crisp edge and a soft center. Ryan really liked them and claimed they were the best "healthy" cookie he has had. Good news! This post also features the cookies also being used for cookie sandwiches. Even though Babycakes has a frosting recipe, I decided to use my leftover chocolate mousse used for the tarts from 2 posts ago. WOW! What a great choice. When you leave the mousse refrigerated, the consistency of the mousse turns out to be alot more of a rich frosting. I took two cookies and added about 2 Tbsp of the raw frosting and topped with another cookie. Voila! A cookie sandwich. I also refrigerated the cookie sandwiches and Ryan and I REALLY liked this combination. We wondered how these sandwiches would taste like frozen. We will let you know! Enjoy!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Chocolate Chip cookies / Cookie Sandwiches

adapted from
Babycakes cookbook

makes 36 cookies or 18 sandwiches

1 cup Tropical Traditions coconut oil
6 Tbsp homemade applesauce or store-bought applesauce
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups vegan sugar (substituted for evaporated sugar cane juice)
2 cups Bob's Mill Gluten-Free all-purpose flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, applesauce, salt, vanilla, and sugar.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, flax meal, baking soda, and xanthan gum. Using a rubber spatula, carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until a grainy dough is formed. Gently fold in the chocolate chips just until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Using a melon baller or a 1/2 Tbsp measuring spoon, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the portions 1 inch apart. Gently press each with the heel of your hand to help them spread.

Bake the cookies on the center rack for 15 minutes, rotating the sheets 180 degrees after 9 minutes. The finished cookies will be crisp on the edges and soft in the center.

Let the cookies stand on the sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely before covering Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Cookie Sandwiches

After the cookies are cooled, use 2 Tbsp of the chocolate mousse and use a second cookie to close the sandwich. Refrigerate the cookies for up to a day.

Chocolate Mousse

frome the
Raw Food Made Easy

Makes 2 cups, 4-6 servings

No one will know that avocado replaces butter, cream, and eggs in this silky mousse.

1/2 cup pitted medjool dates, soaked
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups mashed avocado (3 avocados)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder
1/2 cup water

Place the dates, maple syrup, and optional vanilla in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until smooth. Add the avocado and cocoa powder and process until creamy. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the water and process briefly. Stored in a sealed container, Chocolate Mousse will keep for three days in the refrigerator or two weeks in the freezer. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Rachel Ray 2-piece Stoneware Baker Set Giveaway

Lately I have been wanting to make a casserole but found out I would yet again be out of town this weekend due to music rehearsals. I changed my mind though while sitting at some bar stools at a coffee shop yesterday. What convinced me you might ask? When CSN contacted me about hosting a giveaway for you guys, I was convinced to make a casserole consisting of stuffed jumbo shells! Yum!

As I browsed around their amazing network of websites, I came across a baker set that looked so wonderful and ideal. I knew immediately that this had to be the giveaway. So thanks to
CSN stores, one of you will be the proud new owner of Rachel Ray's 2-piece Stoneware Baker Set Giveaway!

Before I get to the giveaway details, let me tell you a bit about CSN. They are an online retailer based in Boston that started out in 2002 as two employees and one online shop. They have now become one of the top 3 online US reatilers of home and office goods with over 400 employees and
200 online stores. They sell cookware, toys, furniture, pet supplies, the list goes on and on. And they even ship most items to Canada!

Giveaway: If you would like to win this set of
Rachel Ray's 2-piece Stoneware Baker Set , visit CSN stores, and leave a comment on this post telling me an item that caught your eye. Please include your email or have it visible in your profile.
For EXTRA entries, do any or all of the following and leave a comment letting me know after you do the mandatory entry mentioned above:

-follow my blog with google friend connect

-follow me on Twitter and leave me your twitter id

-tweet about this giveaway and leave the link (you can do this once a day)

-blog about this giveaway (Comment that you have done so)

This giveaway is open to US and Canada and will end on February 10 at midnight. Feel free to leave your entries in seperate comments or all together. I will add up all the entries and use random.org to draw the winners. Prize will be sent directly from CSN to the winner.


Quick Chocolate Mousse Tarts

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Great raw and vegan dessert that I prepared last night that only took 15 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to chill. I halved the recipe to make 2 small tarts, one for Ryan and one for myself. Ryan devoured his in 7 minutes and I decided to save half for the next day. This chocolate mousse was actually very rich and decadent and not cooked and with no eggs or milk.

This recipe was my first raw recipe to make. What it raw? When all the ingredients are not cooked but used in its natural form. Unbelieveable that one can make a gourmet dessert with natural ingredients! I have to say that I was skeptical at first with the ingredients that were listed on this recipe but since I have been stayin away from white sugar I wanted to make REALLY good with no guilt or ramifications. You know what I mean?

I was chatting with another foodie and we agreed this would be a great Valentine's recipe next month. Try it and you will be suprised! Remember, I halved the recipe for 2 small tarts but I am giving you the original recipe.

Shortbread Crust

Yield: 2 1/2 cups (enough for one 9-inch pie or tart)

1 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 cup raw walnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 pitted medjool dates

Place the coconut, walnuts, and salt in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Process until finely ground. Add the dates and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Don’t overprocess.

Stored in a sealed container, Shortbread Crust will keep for 1 month in the refrigerator or for 3 months in the freezer. The crust doesn’t need to be thawed before using.

Chocolate Mousse

Yield: 2 cups, 4-6 servings

1/2 cup pitted medjool dates, soaked
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups mashed avocado (3 avocados)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder
1/2 cup water

Place the dates, maple syrup, and optional vanilla in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until smooth. Add the avocado and cocoa powder and process until creamy. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the water and process briefly. Stored in a sealed container, Chocolate Mousse will keep for three days in the refrigerator or two weeks in the freezer. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Healthy and Simple Lasagna Rolls

I was finally back home and was ready to cook after being away for 2 days. For some reason, I was full of energy and ready to start Monday. After 2 weeks of no snow, we received a nice light snow that reminded me it was still winter. It was time to think of something delicious to eat.

It has been a while since I had pasta so I decided to cook up some wheat lasagna noodles and work with different ingredients to make up two different dishes. Today was a day to make meat for my husband so I prepared some grass-fed beef with onions and garlic and spices and I created a recipe for myslef using portabella mushrooms and mustard greens.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

My mixture resembled meat in the texture so I was happy with the results. I then accompanied it with a green salad. I omitted the ricotta filling for both dishes and added some cheese to Ryan's dish. He was happy with the results and with the fact that there were leftovers too! That is always a plus for a delicious dish!
From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Healthy and Simple Lasagna Rolls

serves 4

For the meat-eater:
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Herbes de Provences
1 tsp Tony's Chacheres Cajun Seasoning
3/4 cup Fontina, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat on stove. Add onions and garlic cooking for 5 minutes. Add beef and cook for 15 minutes. Add spices and cook for another 10 minutes. Add cheeses and mix well. Set aside.

For the vegan:
1 1/4 cup Portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cup mustard greens
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil

1 bottle Barilla Marinara sauce

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat on stove. Fry onions and garlic and add mushrooms. Fry for 5 minutes. Add the mustard greens and salt and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.

Warm up sauce until it boils.


Boil 6 lasagna strips according to package instructions until al dente. Drain water and separate each noodle. Cut the noodle in half and place 1 Tbsp of the filling on the noodle and roll.

This makes 6 rolls per person. Place some sauce on each plate and place rolls on top of the sauce. Add sauce on top on the rolls. Sprinkle parmesan on the meat-eater's rolls and soy-parmesan on the vegan.



Individual Indian Pot Pies and GIVEAWAY!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
I am so sorry that I have ben out for a while. I told many that my week flew by like crazy and then I realized tonight that my weekend almost never existed! Sigh...

This semester I joined two choirs at MSU. I have gotten to know the conducting students there through Ryan and have been asked to be a part of their ensembles for their upcoming recital and concerts. This means my schedule gets a little more busier than before, but it also means seeing my husband alot more and singing a lot more too! In addition to this I am also still singing in the Holland Chorale which is a group that Ryan directs. We find ourselves travelling alot to Holland, which ends up being a 1.5 hour commute 2 to 3 times a week. Ryan and I have agreed though that even though it is a long trek, we have gotten in a lot of conversation time. I will take that you know. SO, due to our frequent trips to Holland, I have not been able to cook much since Thursday! ;( So sad! Despite that, I still have several recipes I need to post that I have created or made in the past few weeks.

Last week was almost about salads for lunch. I watched a DVD on raw foods and have been stumbling on blogs talking about raw foods. I decided to try a recipe for myself and eat it for a lunch. I made Not Tuna Paté which is supposed to taste like a tuna salad /paté. It was a winner in my books! It was soooo good and tasty. All I did then is grab 2 cups of greens, chop up some radishes, add some cherry tomatoes and cut up some pumpernickel croutons. Take a look at the picture:

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Not Tuna Paté

Raw-Food Cuisine

Makes 1 cup, 2 servings

1/2 cup soaked raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup soaked raw almonds
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons minced celery
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon minced parsley

Place the sunflower seeds, almonds, water, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor fitted with the S-blade and process into a paste. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the celery, onion, and parsley and pulse briefly, just to mix. Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, Not Tuna Paté will keep for one week.

Wednesday night I mentioned that I was making individual pot pies. I have only made a vegan Shepherd's Pie before but not a vegan Pot Pie, so I was looking forward to the challenge. Come to find out that it is not Ryan's favorite meal in general, but he was a dear and ate anyway and taste tested it for me. I read about the original pot pie and what its filling usually contained and decided I take a different turn and give it a personality. Enjoy the recipe!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
Individual Indian Pot Pies

my creation

serves 2

2 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 cup frozen peas and carrots
2 cups turnip greens, chopped
1 small onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp arrowroot powder (thickening agent)
2 Boca Chik'n patties, cut in 1/2 inch chunks
1.5 cups soy milk
1 cup hot water
1/2 vegan bouillon cube
1 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp Herbes de Provence

Recipe for pastry pie crust
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
5 Tbsp cold water

2 mini soup crocks

Prepare pie crust:
In a small bowl mix the flour and salt. Add shortening and with a pastry cutter, cut shortening in flour until flour resembles small crumbs.

Add 1 Tbsp of cold water at a time and with a fork bring flour mixture together. Use hands to form dough.

Knead on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in four parts. Roll and flatten each dough ball with a rolling pin until close to a 1/2 inch thick.

Layer each crock pot with one flattened dough. Reserve 2 other flattened doughs for the top layer.

Preheat over to 425 degrees Farenheit.

Heat olive oil on medium sauce pan and fry onions, garlic and peas/carrot mixture. Add arrowroot powder to vegetables until well-coated.

Dissolve bouillon cube in 1 cup of water and add to the vegetable mixture along with the soy milk. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes until the liquid has thickened.

Add turnip greens and chik'n patties and spices and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add mixture into each soup crock and cover with the second pie pastry layer and seal ends.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Place each crock on a cookie sheet to prevent from spilling. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes until crust looks golden brown.

Remove from oven and enjoy!

Kristen @Eating RD is sharing her new and improved site and has a nice giveaway consisting of Mighty Tea and an Anthropologie mug. Go and visit!

Today I am featuring my first giveaway and I am so excited! I know that I have been happy sharing my recipes and pictures, but I want to share some of my favorites as well. The following goodies are my favorite products.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
Lavazza is one of my favorite coffees. Ever since I tasted this coffee in Italy I was a goner for it. It is rich and smooth and also makes great espresso and cappuccinos. Even though I have decreased my coffee intake, I still like to enjoy this coffee. Along with the coffee comes a great sweetener called Agave Nectar. I use several brands and I like to use agave when I feel like sweetening my teas or coffees. It is low on the glycemic chart and is better and healthier than your white sugars and even your raw brown sugars. The next thing on my giveaway is my favorite power snack. Lärabars are a raw snack made out of fruits and nuts and seeds. The ones I show on my picture are especially my favorite. They feature chocolate in it rawest form and is for the chocolate lover, which I happen to be. I will be giving away the Chocolate-Cherry flavor which "brings to mind a luscious Black Forest Cake," as the company describes. The other flavor is Chocolate-Mint which tastes like a yummy peppermint patty but with none of the guilt and calories.

Here’s how you can enter:

1. Leave a comment telling me what YOUR favorite coffee, sweetener, and
Lärabar makes your day. If you’re not a coffee drinker, what is your alternative hot drink?

For additional entries:

For an second entry you can copy this & tweet : Check out @singerinkitchen ’s winter treats GIVEAWAYand enter to win @Larabar [link] and leave a separate comment. Make sure you link back to the blogpost.

For a third entry, simply post about this giveaway on your blog and leave a separate comment letting me know you did.

For a fourth entry, become a follower of An Opera Singer in the Kitchen and leave a comment telling me you did. If you are a follower already, add me to your blogroll!

You have until February 1st to enter!


French Cuisine: Tofu au Vin

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
This has been a great week so far especially when the sun comes out after a gray and weepy last two days. The other great thing that has been great so far is having a consistent workout schedule. Since I chose veganism back in November, I have had to consistently be active, whether I walked, stretched, used a trampoline, etc. Even though I used to go to gyms, I am in a different situation now. I decided to go to the library and see if they had workout videos. Man did they ever! I have been enjoying Pilates with Denise Austin, Yoga Booty Ballet and Jillian Michael's 30-day shred. Wow, did that kick me in the behind!

I have to tell you that it feels great to have clothes fit so much better. Ryan suggested I document all my workouts so that I know what ends up working the best. Eating better and journaling all that I eat has worked out so well that it helps me be more disciplined to wake up and choose a DVD. God has been great and having encouragement at home has been a blessing too!

Another thing that has helped is having a good intake of greens. After I workout, I make a Green Monster Smoothie that has so many delicious fruits, greens, and almond milk. It gives me the continous energy throughout the morning until lunchtime. Even though I do not have a problem eating my greens, I probably do not get as much as I should. Here is an example of what I had yesterday morning:

In a blender, add 3 cups of spinach, 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, and 1/4 cup pumpkin puree and blend until smooth.

This seriously could sound nasty to some of you but it is the best smoothie I have had, and I am getting my GREENS. Try it! It is the biggest craze and now I know why.

By the time lunchtime comes around I crave a big salad, which includes romaine lettuce, arugula, cherry tomatoes, carrot shavings, cucumbers, chickpeas and a nice garlicky vinagrette! 4 months ago I had to force myslef to eat healthier but now I am craving fresh foods! It is exciting and satisfying.

After a nice choral rehearsal at MSU, dinner plans start to formulate. While at the airport in December I picked up an issue of Eating Well magazine. Even though it does not feature pure vegan recipes, it has great ideas for tasty vegan dishes. The magazine's taste kitchen came up with an alternative to Coq au Vin that intrigued me even though I had not had the meal before. The original recipe is braised chicken cooked with wine, mushrooms , and carrots, but this recipe uses fried tofu which turned out to be fabulous.

Before I made this dish I have had a hard time working with tofu. I figured I was not patting it dry before frying or cooking. I also used a different brand that I actually really liked called Mori-Nu. It is actually not packed in water like Nasoya Tofu and it is not as hard to pat it dry.

The total time to prepare the dish came out to 35 to 45 minutes, which is ideal for a weekday night. I served the rest of the wine to accompany the meal and served the Tofu au Vin with couscous and brussel sprouts. The meal tasted and looked VERY gourmet, was very budget-friendly, and did not require us to be at a restaurant. How about that? This recipe is a keeper. Enjoy it as much as we did.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Tofu au Vin

slighted adpated from
Eating Well Jan/Feb 2010 issue

serves 4

1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
8 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon arrowroot or flour
2 cups light- to medium-bodied red wine, such as Beaujolais Nouveau, Merlot or Pinot Noir (I used Red Truck, which is a blend)
2 teaspoons butter(could have used Earth Balance, but I omitted)

Drain, rinse and pat tofu dry; cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook in a single layer, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown, 7 to 9minutes total. Transfer the tofu to a shallow dish big enough to fit it in one layer. Sprinkle with vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; gently toss to combine.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, garlic and bay leaf; cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add mushrooms; cook, stirring, until they release their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes more. Sprinkle the vegetables with arrowroot or flour; stir to coat.

Add wine, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook, stirring, until the wine has reduced slightly and the sauce has thickened, 4 to 6 minutes more. Return the tofu to the pan, add butter and stir until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.


Vegan Pad Thai and Peanut Satay Noodles

Did everyone enjoy the MLK holiday? I took it off to spend some time with Ryan since he was given a day off at school. We perused the outlet mall in Howell, MI and replenished some missing or broken kitchen gadgets we have not had for some time. I also found some neat gadgets, like a mini dumpling/empanada filler. I needed that back when I made the mini empanadas.

After 2 hours of looking and walking we finally realized we were starving! We headed out to Ann Arbor and decided to eat at my favorite vegetarian / vegan restaurant,
Seva. As everyone has already seen from my last restaurant review, I did not have a great experience. How did I make this up? Ryan took me to the well-known restaurant in Ann Arbor. What a sweetie, is he not? I think so! Even though I know there are not many choices for my husband, he makes do, knowing that I will enjoy tasting a different vegan dish. I had a nice Portabella Mushroom Burger with Soy cheese and grilled onions and some Idaho Fries. Ryan ordered the Bean Burrito in a Wheat Tortilla with fresh salsa and melted cheddar cheese on top. After we finished eating we felt like napping seeing that it was a gray, damp and cold day. We shrugged it off and visited some used book stores and music stores.

After we were done, we realized that our day had gone by since we made a late start, but lately it has felt like the days are going by SUPER fast. Don't you feel it? Either way, we decided we needed to make one more stop before we headed home, since Ryan had to catch up with work and all. Last month, I won a $100 Whole Foods giftcard from
Keep Your Diet Real after she hosted a 40 day breakfast challenge. It sure was an encouragement since I now officially eat a healthy breakfast. Anyway, since the closest Whole Foods was an hour IN Ann Arbor, we decided to make a stop and see if i could stock up on goodies. Funny that someone said that I would not be able to get much with $100 there, but I beg to differ. Thanks again Corrine for such a great giveaway!

After a long day of relaxing (wink), I felt inspired to cook a nice meal. Lately I have been cooking a lot of stir frys and noodle dishes using coconut oil. A while back,
Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of their product to review and even though I am under no obligation to review their product I decided to share how delicious their product works for all my dishes.

One of my Asian dishes last week came from the Skinny Bitch in the Kitch cookbook. If you have not heard of this cookbook, I know, it is a little bit of a shocker, but these gals have great vegan recipes that do not fail at all. Pad Thai is one of my weaknesses when it comes to Thai food, but the problem I face at restaurants is that it has fish sauce. This recipe substitutes delicious ingredients to make a satisfying alternative. I also used Brown Rice vermicelli for a healthier alternative but the flat rice noodles can be used.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Pad Thai

serves 3 to 4

slightly adapted from original recipe

8 oz. Brown Rice vermicelli
1/4 cup Xagave nectar
1/4 cup mirin
3 Tbsp ketchup
3 Tbsp tamari
1-1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp Thai chili sauce
2 Tbsp Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil
14-16 oz. Extra Firm tofu, cubed
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup green beans
2 cups bok choy, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup yellow pepper, sliced
1 carrot, Shredded
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
4-8 lime wedges

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the agave, mirin, ketchup, tamari, lime juice, and chili sauce; set aside.

Heat the oil in a 12-14 inch skillet over high. Add the tofu and stir-fry for 4 minutes

Add the garlic and vegetables and stir-fry for 5 minutes.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
Add the noodles and the sauce mixture and stir-fry until the noodles are softened and evenly coated with sauce.

Add the green onions and cilantro and combine well.

Serve on plates and garnish with peanuts and lime wedges.

The next dish was also very delicious and FANTASTIC. Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil is VERY flavorful and even has a coconutty smell and flavor so it enhances your dish. The Peanut Satay Sauce contained coconut milk so using the coconut oil enhanced the flavor in each bite. I picked up a fabulous bottle of Peanut Satay sauce from Whole Foods yesterday because:

  1. It was on sale.
  2. It is a vegan sauce.
  3. I had only 30 minutes to make dinner.

This was my first time using Simply Asia Foods sauce for a quick dinner. I usually like making my own sauces but this proved to be a great substitute. The following recipe is my own creation using this fab sauce, but I made this with chicken since Ryan requested it. The seasoning for the chicken can be used for tofu. Ryan gave the flavor an enthusiastic 2 thumbs up! Remember, the key to these dishes is making sure you have plenty of veggies so that you will not feel guilty about the carbs. Enjoy!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Peanut Satay Noodles

serves 3

8 oz Flat Rice Noodles
1 chicken breast, cubed or 12-14 oz Extra-firm Tofu
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup broccoli slaw, or broccoli stems, julienned
1 cup carrots, julienned
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup red pepper, julienned
1 cup bok choy, chopped
1/2 cup Thai Kitchen's Peanut Satay Sauce
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp Tropical Tradition's coconut oil
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

Prepare the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a wok, heat coconut oil on medium-high heat.

In a small bowl, place chicken breast, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper and mix. Add to wok and cook for 10-15 minutes. If working with tofu, make sure the tofu gets crispy and golden before adding veggies.

Add vegetables and cook for 5-7 minutes, and then add rice noodles, Peanut sauce, and water. Mix thoroughly and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes or until noodles soften and sauce has been somewhat absorbed.

Add cilantro and toss in noodles. Serve on plates and enjoy.


Dusty's Cellar: A vegan's review of fine dining

Friday night was date night for the two of us. We have had two nice gift cards waiting to be used. Since moving to East Lansing we have heard so much about Dusty's Cellar and Tap Room. It boasts a huge variety of wines, beer, and food imports for sale in their store plus it has a deli that allows for anyone to order gourmet sandwiches. The Tap Room is more of a local hang out, offering burgers, sandwiches and such with beer being the drink of choice. My husband and I decided to try the fine dining since we had heard how delicious and gourmet each dish proved to be.

We arrived and we were asked whether we had reservations. Umm, no, we did not so we placed our names on the waiting list and we were asked whether it was an option for us to be seated in the covered patio. It looked nice and they ad huge warmers in the room. I forgot to mention that my husband had dropped me off and I made the decision for covered patio to be an option. (Big mistake). We left our phone number since the hostess told us it would be an hour wait. Before leaving I asked the hostess whether there were vegan options. She said there were not too many but to let my server know and they would accommodate me as well as they could.

We drove off and lingered at a local bookstore for 10 minutes when we received a call letting us know that a table was ready. I was surprised that their quoted time was way off but I overlooked it. We arrived and were seated in the patio. My husband did not look happy but then I told him I had said it was fine. We later regretted that decision. Either the warmers were too low and our legs were cold or the warmers were too hot and our faces felt like they would melt off. I got a bit sunburned in the patio room by the way. :(

Our waiter arrived at our table and greeted us and shared the night's specials with us, both of them being meat choices. Before I opened the menu I asked the waiter what options there were for a vegan. He paused for effect, cringed, and said that they really did not have any choices except a Spicy Thai Penne Pasta dish, even though the noodles had eggs in them. My husband then told him that was obviously not vegan. Our waiter then said he would go to the chef and ask what cold be cooked for me. He came back 5-7 minutes later and cringed again and said that at this time the chef would NOT be able to accommodate me since there was a larger party he was concentrating on. Wow. Turn-off number one. All I could think about at the moment was "How rude!" Oh well. As I kept on looking at the menu, I noticed that the restaurant was more of a steakhouse more than anything. Every dish had meat, whether it was chicken, fish, beef, lamb, game, there was not a SINGLE dish that did not have meat except for the blasted pasta dish.

My husband and I decided to stay since we have been waiting SO long to use the gift cards. I regrettably ordered the Spicy Thai Penne Pasta with a baby greens salad that had cherries, candied pecans, tomatoes, and a lovely curry dressing. If I had been a good girl, since I devotedly have been ordering STRICT vegan, I would have just eaten the salad, but I did not. I was just frustrated that I could not order something that was gourmet and equally fine dining without it having meat. Either way, we decided to order drinks, so I had the mojito and my husband, Ryan, had a POM mojito. I preferred his so we shared. We asked for the Tomato Bruschetta as an appetizer since that seemed safe for a vegan.

Our waiter returned 10 minutes later with our dinner salads. As we ate we wondered if our waiter had forgotten our appetizer. We decided to give him a chance. After we finished our salads, our waiter picked up our plates and said that our dinner would be ready soon, which then prompted Ryan to respond, "Please do not bother to bring our appetizer with our meals. We would have liked them before the salad." He said it very kindly and our waiter noticeably realized he had forgotten our order. I felt bad for him, but he returned 5 minutes later with our dinner and told us that dessert was on the house.

My husband ordered the Filet Mignon which was accompanied with mashed potatoes and squash. My husband takes advantage of ordering meat while we are out since I have not been fixing it but once a week. My Spicy Thai Penne Pasta had a peanut sauce made with coconut milk, fresh crushed ginger, and red pepper. It proved to be too sweet and saucy, but was perfectly spicy. I gave about a cup of it to my husband. The salad was a favorite of mine, thus my regret for not just having a big bowl of their salad.

I would definitely recommend the restaurant to a non-vegan, but certainly not for a vegan. I promptly emailed the owner and expressed my disappointment and sadness of not seeing more options. Nowadays there are SO many people who are vegetarians. I just kept on asking, don't vegetarians and vegans like fine dining? Does fine dining only mean a steakhouse? So many questions. The irony of it all is that I could have eaten vegan at Chili's or Taco Bell if I wanted to but that is not my choice. Stay tuned for an update concerning my email to the owner.

On a lighter note, Vegan Family Style is giving a copy away of Vegan Cupcakes By Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Go and visit her site!


Vegan Apple Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Sauce

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Last night the choir in Holland, Mi had a great rehearsal. We are working on a variety of opera choruses and Broadway show pieces. I told my husband, who incidentally directs the choir by the way, that this was going to be a grand concert. I am in my element when I sing opera. There is something about singing in a variety of languages. Our concert will feature pieces performed in Italian, Russian, German and English of course. I thought I had a favorite but I love singing in German and Italian. The lips for Italian pucker up a lot more whereas German demands there to be more sound from the middle of the mouth. It is truly exciting and exhilarating for me. I am working on a solo for the upcoming concert that I have never performed. I have recently been studying under a fabulous voice teacher that has taught me so much that I cannot wait to perform this solo. Here is a YouTube video of this piece. I will be singing what the main lady up front performs!

I have been meaning to post this recipe that I veganized. The recipe was adapted from a fellow blogger's post from mid-December. Since I became a vegan I have not desired for many sweets or desserts but on the rare occasion I would want something or would have to prepare a dessert for a dinner party. What is a girl going to do? Prepare something she can't eat? Heck no.

As I started researching substitutes for eggs, heavy cream, and butter, I became a little confident that I could add and substitute the non-vegan items for this apple dessert. The result was not a disaster, which is important. Even though I could smell the bundt baking in the oven, with the scent of apples and cinnamon, I could not be SO confident that this experiment would turn out. By God's grace it turned out really well! I had almost thought I should not use the cream cheese icing but the cake required something more, even though my husband suggested ice cream. I was adamant that the whole dessert required to be vegan for it to my own success. I am glad I stood my ground because the icing was more of a sauce and it worked really well! Have a great weekend y'all!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Apple Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Sauce

based on Dorie Greenspan's Double Apple Bundt Cake
adapted from
Vegetable Matter's blog

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds
10 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine, at room temp
1 cup Xagave nectar
3 tsp Ener-G (egg replacer)
4 Tbsp water
1 cup applesauce
3 red apples, peeled and grated
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dark raisins

1/2 cup Tofutti cream cheese, at room temp
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup organic powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with shelf in the middle. Spray bundt pan with canola oil spray and flour with 1 Tbsp of flour.

Combine first 8 ingredients and set aside.

Cream margarine and agave nectar on medium high until somewhat fluffy. Mix Ener-G egg replacer with water and add to agave mixture. Mix for 3 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and add applesauce. Scrape sides and mix under well incorporated. Add grated apples and mix well.

Add dry ingredients and mix by hand until fully incorporated. Don't over mix.

Fold in nuts and raisins. Fill bundt pan. Use a spatula to spread batter evenly.

Bake straight on oven rack until cake is springy and knife comes out clean, about 45minutes to an hour.

While cake is cooling, make sauce:

Mix first 3 ingredients until well combined and fluffy. Add vanilla and blend.

Refrigerate sauce until ready to serve on cake.


Foodbuzz Tastemaker: Savory Mini Empanadas with Pace Picante Guacamole

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
It is almost that time of the week and I can see the weekend in the horizon. Who is happy? Woohoo! We have been having a beautiful week here in Michigan, with bright, sunny days and melting snow. I hear that it is supposed to be like that the rest of the week too! Can I be any happier? At least my Vitamin D factor is happy, becasue I have been soaking it in.

I conquered many a tasks today, including making a delicious dinner that proved to be a definite winner. During the evening I decided to take a break from blog reading and did some book reading. I am not usually this type of person, but I can be reading several books at a time, which means it can take me a while to finish any one of them. I finally finished a great book called The Singer's Ego: Finding Balance Between Music and Life by Lynn Eustis. As a musician, it has been hard to mentally grab a hold of what that means. Ms. Eustis explained how the voice should not define the person or affect how one should live. I loved that because it reminded me that my voice is a gift from God and was given to share and enjoy His gift. If you are a musician you would know that one of the hardest things about performing is stage fright. Ms. Eustis asks the singer whether this fright is based on what a people group would think of them as a singer or person, but in reality, our fright should be subsided when the focus is the love of our gift of singing. Do you know that when I started thinking this way, I felt a little more confident when singing in front of people? When I focused on how much I enjoy singing, then it was not about what people thought of me, but how I could show my passion for singing. WOW. What a change! Even though I have been singing since a little girl, tis book has been a gift. It has allowed me to not be defined by that profession but allowing it to make the person God meant me to be. Great book, now on to some great food!

I was inspired to create this recipe on my way home from Holland, Michigan. My husband took a nap after a long day at school and I drove home. What does a girl do while on an hour and a half drive home? Well, left in her own thoughts but of course! My mind is constantly active and part of the drive was spent mentally creating a dish that came into fruition tonight. As part of the Tastemaker program, I had received 2 bottles of Pace Picante sauce to create an delicious appetizer, just in time for Superbowl. Even though I created this dish as an appetizer I made it our main meal tonight. It was fantastic and a winner in my books.

I adpated a recipe for a basic vegan empanada dough recipe and created 2 separate fillings. As a side, I also created a guacamole using Pace Picante and also a broccoli slaw to accompany. I grew up on Chilean empanadas that consisted on ground beef, onions, garlic, raisins, green olives a hard-boiled egg and spices. Of course now that I am vegan, I had to make something that was close to my favorite childhood memory. I used soy crumbles that looked very much like ground beef and used the rest of the ingredients except for the hard-boiled egg. When cooked and baked in the empanada, I could not believe how close the taste and flavors were to the original recipe. Thanks to soy ground crumbles! Of course, if you are not vegan you can just substitute it with ground beef and it would still be a winner. ENjoy the pictures and recipes!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Savory Mini Empanadas

dough recipe adapted from Veganomicon cookbook

makes 2 dozen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup cold water
Soy milk for brushing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

In a large bowl, mix flours, baking powder, salt, sugar, and spices.

Using a pastry cutter, add shortening in 3 batches and mix until mix resembles small pebbles.

Mix water and vinegar together and add to flour mixture in 3 parts. Use a fork to bring dough together. On a floured surface, knead dough for 1 minute until all ingredients are mixed. Flatten to a small disc and cover with a towel until ready to use. (Prepare fillings)

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Flatten dough out with rolling pin to a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter and cut in circles. Filling is ready to be used to each circle. Add a little over a teaspoon to each circle and bring each end together to seal edges. Using a fork, press gently on the edges until sealed.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
Place each empanada on a baking sheet layered with parchment paper. Brush the tops of emapanadas with soy milk. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Chilean soy crumble filling

makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup soy crumbles
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp raisins
2 Tbsp green olives, sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and saute onions, pepper and garlic for 5-10 minutes on medium-high heat.

Add spices and raisins and olives. Cook for 5 more minutes. Set aside.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Black Bean-Spinach Filling

1 cup canned black beans, drained
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1/2 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup Medium Pace Picante Sauce
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and saute onions, carrot, and pepper for 5 minutes. Add black beans, spinach, Picante sauce, spices and cook until the filling starts drying up a little. Add cilanto at the end and turn of heat.

Fill half the dough with one filling and use the other half with different filling.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Pace Picante Guacamole

makes 1 cup

3/4 cup Medium Pace Picante sauce
1/2 avocado
2 Tbsp Tofutti sour cream
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped and loosely packed

Using an immersion blender, blend 1/2 cup of Picante sauce, avocado, sour cream, vinegar and salt until smooth.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup salsa and cilantro and mix well.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen


Stuffed Chicken with Bacon and Brie, Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Apple Galettes

I recently took a poll on Twitter asking whether it was ok to make a meal that was part vegan and part non-vegan. I have only been vegan over 2 months and even though I know why a lot of people are vegan, mine has a different take. As I learn more about meal preparation as a vegan I will feel comfortable preparing meals for non-vegans that includes meals. When I do, I would like to prepare a full meal that is vegan fare.

In my meal preparation, I decided to make a favorite of my husband's. It is a recipe that I created and proved to be very tasty and stuffed with yummy goodness. I accompanied it with a new recipe of vegan mashed potatoes, boiled in rosemary water and mixed with Tofutti sour cream to make for a creamy substitute for real mashed potatoes. I then stir-fried some broccoli with carrots and red onions that proved to be a new favorite of mine, but do you know what ended up being my favorite part fo the meal? It was my second vegan dessert that turned out to be a huge success! Apple Tartletts are my new friend. SO as you take a look at these recipes, there is something for everyone here. Please enjoy!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Panko-crusted Dijon Chicken Stuffed with Bacon and Brie

serves 6

6 boneless chicken breasts

2 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
4 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika

3/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves
4 Tbsp melted salted butter

18 slices Brie cheese (3 slices per chicken breast)
6 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

Place coating and and crust ingredients in two separate dishes. Butterfly each chicken breast and place each chicken breast between parchment paper. Using a mallet, flatten chicken until 1/2 inch thick. Make sure the chicken is dry before starting the coating process.

Take each chicken breast and place 3 slices of Brie cheese and one slice of bacon and fold in half. Next, rub the mustard coating on the chicken and finish off my coating the chicken with the Panko bread crumbs. Repeat with the rest.

Place each stuffed chicken on a greased 9x13 glass pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Vegan Rosemary-Garlic Mashed Potatoes

serves 4

8 red potatoes, diced
1 Tbsp dried rosemary

8 roasted garlic cloves
2 Tbsp Earth Balance butter
1/2 cup Tofutti sour cream
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper

Place diced potatoes in medium pot and cover with water. In an empty tea bag used for loose tea leaves, place the 1 Tbsp of rosemary and add to the boiling water. Boil for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.

Drain the water and add the rest of the ingredients and mash potatoes. Delicious goodness!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Broccoli Medley

serves 4

1 head of broccoli or 6 broccoli stalks, separate in florets.
2 carrots, 1-inch bites
1/2 red onions, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil

Heat olive oil in sauce pan over medium heat.

Stir-fry broccoli, carrots, and onion for 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Individual Apple Galettes

adapted from Isa Chandra's Veganomicon cookbook

makes 6 mini galettes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2-3/4 cup very cold water

Apple Filling
2 large Gala Apples, peeled, cored and sliced very thinly
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
9 tsp Strawberry and Grand Marnier preserves

Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the shortening in 3 batches by the teaspoon, but you do not need to be precide about this; just add it in small chunks. Cut the shortening in the flout until the dough is crumbly and pebbly.

In a measuring cup, combine the vinegar with 1/2 cup of cold water. Add the diluted vinegar to the flour mixture in 3 batches, gently mixing it into the dough with a fork, until the dough holds together when pinched. It will require a little more cold water to have the dough come together.

Gather the dough in a ball and knead gently a few times until the dough holds together. Form again into a ball and flatten just a bit into a disk. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Fifteen minutes before you are ready to prepare the galette, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Farenheit and slice the apples. In a separate bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together.

Remove the dough from refrigerator, dust the surface and rolling pin with flour and roll the dough into a rectangle, 1/2 inch thick. Use an individual galette pan and cut into the dough like a biscuit cutter. Take that piece of dough and form dough in each galette pan.

Add 1.5 teaspoons of preserves as a bottom layer for each galette. Layer the apples on top of the preserves to fan out until completely covering the bottom. Sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture and repeat with the remaining 5 pans.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes long. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes.

Served with vanilla ice cream for the non-vegans and coffee for the vegan. Delicious!


Mock Tuna Salad Sandwich and Hearty Slaw Salad

I have really REALLY missed blogging. My husband and I have been out of town only an hour and a half from where we live but we get so busy that we do not really get a lot of computer time! I did, though, enjoy some nice time in the cold weather. I am getting used to understanding how the snow difference is beside a lake as opposed to a city further away from the lake.

We stayed at a friend's house that is by the lake and I could not help but just stare at the cold icy and somewhat frozen lake that empties into Lake Michigan. I took a mile long walk in the 13 degree weather, all bundled up. Did I mention I LOVE walking in the cold? It is a complete different workout. Not only does it work my legs but my waist, hips and arms! Even though I have been stretching every morning, I still manage to wake up sore. I love it though because I know I have worked hard. What do I do on my walks? I feel tempted using the IPod but I don't. My walks have been SO peaceful and calm. I thank God for his beautiful creation and for the beauty of winter. I know I have been told I have been crazy for enjoying this cold weather, but I guess since I have not seen snow while living in Texas, I am eating it all up.

Question for you northerners: Can I get pneumonia from walking out in chilly weather despite being bundled up?

Enjoy some of the pictures I took.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I made a delicious healthy sandwich and a very big salad that was so filling. I have been craving legumes, so the mock tuna salad was something I created on my own because I used to eat a tuna salad before becoming vegan. My new creation was a very delicious substitute that I would make again!

The salad was something that came out of a whim that proved to be fantastic. Enjoy the colors.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Mock Tuna Salad Sandwich

serves 1

1 cup chickpeas
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 Tbsp Veganaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp Gomashio (prepared black sesame seeds with sea salt)
2 romaine leaf lettuce

Mash chickpeas in a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Add to your favorite sliced bread and add lettuce.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Hearty Slaw Salad

serves 1

1 1/2 cup slaw (pre-packaged broccoli, cauliflower, carrots mix)
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup garlicky
1/2 avocado, diced
a handful raw almonds
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy.


Pasta e Fagioli

Tonight turned out to be one of those days where a quick meal had to be prepared. In fact, we had tickets to see an opera in HD at the movie cinema, set up by the MET opera. Has anyone gone out to see an opera? It is sure cheaper than going to the opera house and you definitely do not have to pay for parking. Oh I forgot! You also get to buy popcorn and a drink while watching the opera singers belt out their notes! What a deal. Here is a snippet of a song we heard performed tonight. I sang this piece back in college being a coloratura, but I am more of a lyric soprano now.

I know many people have heard me mention all day that I wanted minestrone, minestrone, minestrone, but at the end, I ended up preparing pasta e fagioli, or otherwise known as pasta and beans. As I looked at different recipes and ideas, I knew I was heading more towards a heavy beans and pasta dish than a broth-based soup. I remember ordering Pasta e Fagioli at Olive Garden often, but then I was confused. Their recipe was more broth-based. As I looked up definitions of both minestrone and pasta e fagioli, I knew there was a difference, and my recipe surely needed to be different. From what I read, minestrone is a hodgepodge of items thrown in a tomato-based broth, whereas pasta e fagioli was heavy on the pasta and beans.

Have you ever craved something and you prepared and it did not turn out exactly how you imagined? Thank God this is not what happened to me. I tried different ingredients and spices and PRESTO, my pasta e fagioli recipe turned out scrumptious!

I think I have mentioned before that I tend to be intimidated when it comes to preparing soups or stews. I grew up eating all kinds of delicious and flavorful soups created by my mother. I have also eaten many flavorless soups outside of my home. My mother does not document her recipes, but manages to make each soup the same way each time. My husband is not a fan of soups, as I have mentioned before but if I can pass it by him more like a hearty stew then I win, you know. This was the case with this dish. We both ate 2 bowls of it and sighed at the end. There is nothing like a quick and delicious meal before heading out to the cold weather. Enjoy!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Pasta e Fagioli

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serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
1 cup eggplant, seeded and diced
1 1/2 mustard greens, chopped
1 cup dentali pasta (Tube-like)
1 can Northern Beans
1/2 cup Boca meatless ground crumbles
14 ounces ground, peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup Pace Picante mild sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 Vegan bouillon cube
3 cups water
1 tsp basil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp celery seeds
2 tsp Herb de Provence (rosemary, thyme,marjoram,basil, oregano, and lavender)

In a medium pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Sauté diced onions, carrots, eggplant and red pepper for 5-10 minutes or until onions are transparent. Add garlic, ground tomatoes, picante sauce, beans and crumbles to vegetables and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, dissolve bouillon cube with 1 cup of hot water. Add to the pot and add remaining 2 cups of water.

Add spices from salt down to Herb de Provence. Bring stew to a slight boil so that flavors can combine. Cook for 10 more minutes.

Add 1 cup of pasta and cook for the remaining 10 minutes until pasta is cooked through. Serve and enjoy.

This will be a thick stew, but it you want more broth, add another cup of water and adjust salt for taste.

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