Tuscan Barley Soup

*Please note, barley does contain gluten. My issue is actually with wheat, so this is a wheat-free dish.

This recipe is based off one from the New York Times. However, I made some changes, the most notable being that I used quick cooking barley instead of farro. Regular barley can take 45-60 minutes to cook. I bought Quaker Oats quick cooking barley, and it was ready in under 10. If you cannot find this, and you can use regular barley, I would cook it separate and then add it to the soup. Otherwise, it will suck up too much liquid, as would the beans- I also used canned beans instead of dried as called for in the original recipe. I seasoned it with oregano. I was going to put in a Parmesan rind, but I discovered mold on mine. Honestly, I don’t think it needed it. It was delicious without it. So delicious that my  one year old son ate 3 bowls of it, screamed when the spoonfuls were not coming fast enough, and licked the spilled soup off the highchair tray. I would say this recipe is a keeper.

Here is a picture of my son trying to grab the bowl.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 large onion, sliced

  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped

  •  Salt and pepper

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 1 cup  quick cooking barley

  • 1 can white beans (I used navy)

  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes

  • 6 cups chicken stock (use vegetable to make it vegan)

  •  Freshly grated Parmesan

Cook barley according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil over medium heat, and add onion, celery and carrots with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until softened 5-10 minute. Add remaining ingredients minus the parmesan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and let cook or another 5 minutes, and garnish with cheese.

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Zoodle Baked Ziti

I used to dread the influx of zucchini and summer squash during CSA season, but then I got a spiralizer and now I look forward to it! This is one of my most favorite dishes to make with zucchini.

I made this dish last night, and it came out awesome. Not only that, it was pretty easy to make, although it does take an hour of inactive cooking time.

  • 4 medium zucchinis and/or summer squash

  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil

  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into smaller pieces

  • 1 lb hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 t olive oil

  • 1 bell pepper, diced

  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced (this is optional- I had extras lying around)

  1. Use spiralizer to make zucchini noodles, drain and set aside

  2. Preheat oven to 400 F

  3. With a large oven proof frying pan or medium dutch oven cook the turkey and olive oil on medium heat until turkey is cooked through

  4. Push the turkey to the edges create a well in the middle and cook garlic in it for 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Add canned tomatoes.

  5. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook on lowest setting covered for 30 minutes

  6. Uncover and reduce sauce to just slightly thicker than a normal tomato sauce, the zucchini will give off liquid to thin to the right consistency

  7. Add zucchini, peppers, and plum tomatoes, and stir to combine everything together

  8. Stir in cheeses.

  9. Cook in the oven at 400 uncovered for 15-20 minutes until zoodles are tender

  10. Before serving let rest for 10 minutes

Posted in Italian Inspired, zucchini | Leave a comment

Vegan Peanut Bowl

We drove to Florida and back in April. I have said to before, and I will say it again: the south is where your health goes to die. It was so hard to eat healthy en route. It’s just one fast food place after another. I made sandwiches for the first part of the journey, but there is only so much food prep you can do when you have to drive in warm weather. I made this for my lunch when I got home. I did 5 vegan meals in a row, and then went to town on a turkey burger because I am pregnant and that was my limit. This was even better the next day. I used a mishmash of noodles I had in my pantry in order to get rid of stuff, but any soba, udon or even spaghetti noodle would do. I recently started eating chickpea spaghetti- I highly recommend!

  • 1/2 pound dry pasta of your choice (gluten-free if you desire)

  • 2 cloves garlic – sliced thin

  • 1 cup peas

  • 1 jalapeno – seeded & diced

  • 1 cup carrots – grated

  • 1 cup purple cabbage – sliced or chopped

  • Cooking oil

For sauce:

  • 1 T tamarind paste (or 1/4 cup orange juice mixed with 2 tablespoons lime juice & a few shakes of vegan (or other) Worcestershire sauce)

  • 1 squirt sriracha

  • 1 T  sesame oil

  • 1 T soy sauce

  • 1 T fish sauce (or – if vegan – a 2nd TBS soy sauce)

  • 1 T minced fresh ginger (I used jarred)

  • 3 T peanut butter

  • 1 lime, juiced

Garnish: chopped cashews or nuts, cilantro

Boil pasta according to package instructions. Combine sauce ingredients and set aside. Heat oil over medium heat, and lightly saute all the vegetables. Add cooked and drained pasta, as well as sauce. Heat through and divide into bowls. Garnish with toppings of your choice.

Posted in Asian Inspired, Vegan | Leave a comment

Vegetable Enchiladas

I’m pregnant again, and my appetite is all over the place. I just want cheesy carbs all the time, and that is not good for my digestive track. However, I am finding compromise in recipes like this one. 

I have a go-to enchilada recipe that I normally make, but last night I decided to step up the amount of vegetables I am using, and cut down on the amount of cheese. I still want to use cheese because that is a sure-fire way to get my son to eat vegetables. Here is a picture of the filling. I forgot to take a picture of the final product because I go from zero to hangry in 5 seconds.

  • 1 sweet potato, diced

  • 1 bag or box of box baby spinach, thawed

  • 1 can of artichokes, diced

  • 1 can of pinto beans

  • 1 (7 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers

  • 1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix

  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

  • 1 cup cottage cheese

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

  • 12  corn tortillas

  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

  • 1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce

To Make Vegetable Mixture: Heat oil in medium skillet over medium high heat. Add sweet potatoes and cook until soft,, about 15 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and taco seasoning and heat through.

To Make Cheese Mixture: In a medium bowl mix sour cream with cottage cheese and season with salt and pepper; stir until well blended.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

To Assemble Enchiladas: Heat tortillas until soft. Pour some of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of the dish. In each tortilla place a spoonful of meat mixture, a spoonful of cheese mixture and a bit of shredded cheese. Roll tortillas and place in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with any remaining veggie and cheese mixture, enchilada sauce and remaining shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Posted in Casserole, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Super Bowl Super Foods

Football Season is approaching, and here are my favorite snacks. This is a compilation of two old posts.

Originally Posted February 1, 2018

 Soooooo the Patriots are in the Super Bowl again, and NOBODY wants them to win except for fans such as yours truly. However, you can still eat good, delicious food while watching the commercials and JT at the halftime show. If my husband even suggests we change the channel during that……..

1. Squachos

Nachos that use squash in place of the tortilla chips. These are so good. It is easier if you have a spiralizer with a chip plate, but you can slice them as well.

2. Black Bean Pineapple Salsa/Salad

I make this for potlucks a lot. I like the sweetness the pineapple adds.

3. Whole 30 Buffalo Dip

For me, it is not the Super Bowl without something dripping in buffalo wing sauce. This year I’m doing a dairy free chicken dish.

4. Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

I love, love, LOVE chicken wings, but I had an epiphany one day that it is not actually the chicken that I love. It’s the buffalo sauce! Throwing sauce on roasted cauliflower is not only tasty, but a serving of vegetables.

5. Lightened Up Asian Sliders

I had a recipe for Asian lettuce cups that is based on the popular dish at P.F. Chang’s. However, I find them to be a little messy. I’m excited to make these because I don’t have to worry about the ground turkey falling out all over the place.

6. Sweet Potato Fries

I have mentioned before that I make these a lot. I make them a lot because they are so easy, and so tasty!

7. Healthy Five Layer Mexican Dip

In this version, layers 6 and 7 are removed (the dairy) to make it a healthy vegan dip. I am so excited to make this!

8. Avocado Brownies

There are many variations of healthy brownies out there, but I settled on this one because avocados are usually on sale the week before the Super Bowl. Plus, avocados make everything awesome.

Posted in Appetizer | Leave a comment

Roasted Mushrooms over Sage and Thyme Polenta

One of the few reasons I was excited to move to Kentucky was the longer growing season. Despite the long, long winter here, I was still able to get herb and vegetable garden going a little sooner than had I been up north. I was going to keep it low key since I am pregnant, but I added a little more because I cannot help myself.  I planted two types of heirloom tomatoes that turn black when they ripen. So far it has been great tomato weather.

I now have a ton of herbs, although I could not find tarragon here. I had to use the sage that before it got out of hand- there is no waiting for pumpkin season this year! I remembered that I used to put it in polenta a long time ago. Despite the fact that I could not find instant polenta here, and I had to stir it for 30 minutes, this recipe is definitely a keeper. Once I find instant polenta, I will be making it again. You could use nutritional yeast to make it vegan. The roasted mushrooms we sooo good! I served it with a salad.


  • 1 (12-ounce) package assorted wild mushrooms (fresh, not dried)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 cup instant polenta

  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage

  • 2 T fresh thyme



  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.

  2. Toss the mushrooms in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until nicely browned.

  3. While the veggies are roasting, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and slowly whisk in the polenta and continue to whisk constantly until the polenta is thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of Parmesan, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Divide the polenta into 4 bowls and top each with 1/4 of the roasted veggies and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.

Posted in Italian Inspired | Leave a comment

Penne Vodka with Roasted Red Peppers

I reinstated my Plated subscription because the working full time and having a toddler thing is hard. It covers 3 dinners a week, and I can focus more on the meals I do make as opposed to constantly trying to make something quick and easy. I was anxiously awaiting its arrival yesterday, and when I went to look at the tracking, I realized that I sent it to my old address in NY by accident. To waste food and money is just awful, and I felt so terrible going to the store yesterday to buy food. However, two good things came out of this: Plated credited my account when I wrote and explained what happened, and I came up with this dish.

This is a big variation from traditional vodka sauce, but I felt considerably better eating it since there is no heavy cream. I also added spinach because I am always adding leafy greens into things. You can use jarred roasted red peppers if you like, but I find doing it myself under the broiler is easy and more cost effective.

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or butter alternative

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 garlic cloves , minced

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup vodka

  • 1 cup canned coconut milk

  • 2 roasted red peppers, pureed

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced

  • 3/4 cup frozen spinach

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter with oil; add diced chicken and just brown.

Add tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add tomatoes and red pepper puree and cook for 25 minutes; stir frequently.

Increase heat and add coconut milk, vodka, and spinach; boil for 2 minutes or until thickened to sauce consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve over pasta of choice.

Posted in Carbs, Chicken, Italian Inspired, Tomatoes | Leave a comment


Originally posted September 1, 2015

I LOVE gazpacho, but I don’t make it as often as I would like to because tomato season is so short! Well, it is when you live in the Northeast. I don’t know how authentic my recipe is. I’m pretty sure the traditional Spanish version does not have Worcestershire sauce in it, but I add a little bit for flavor anyhow.

My husband was less than enthusiastic about eating chilled soup for dinner. He went into a tirade about his mother letting soup get cold. This went on for about 10 minutes until he sat down and took a sip and proceeded to polish off the whole bowl. I’m guessing it is going to be even better today since it chilled in the fridge overnight. [Note, the red peppers were not next to the green peppers at Stew Leonards, and if you have ever been there you know that reversing direction in that store can be disasterous (it’s very busy). So I bought green peppers, forgetting that it will make my gazpacho not so red. It still tasted good!]

  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes

  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into fourths

  • 1 large bell pepper, deseeded and diced

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced

  • 1 garlic clove, smashed

  • 1 jalapeno, diced

  • juice of 1 lime

  • 1 cup tomato juice

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 t balsamic vinegar

  • 2 t Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 dash of hot sauce

  • salt and pepper, to taste

Make an X with a paring knife on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath and allow to cool until able to handle, approximately 1 minute. Remove and pat dry. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. When seeding the tomatoes, place the seeds and pulp into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl in order to catch the juice. Press as much of the juice through as possible and then add enough bottled tomato juice to bring the total to 1 cup.

Place the tomatoes and juice into a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Transfer mixture to a blender and puree for 15 to 20 seconds on high speed or use an immersion blender. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl. Cover and chill for 2 hours and up to overnight.

Posted in Tomatoes | Leave a comment

Pizza with Grilled Summer Squash and Ricotta

Originally posted September 3, 2015


In researching the Mediterranean and Southeast Asian diets where people tend to live longer, meat is never the center of attention and usually is no more than 4 oz a serving. This pizza would be just as good without the sausage on it. I served it with salad and gazpacho. The photo features the crust I bought for my husband at Whole Foods. I also made a gluten free version for myself with this crust recipe. Making you own pizza is easy and much healthier than ordering out.

  • One pizza crust

  • 2 summer squash, thinly sliced

  • 1 cup fresh ricotta

  • 2 hot or sweet sausage links

  • 1 cup marinara

Preheat oven to 425. Pre-bake pizza crust to stiffen the crust for approximately 5 minutes. Meanwhile, slice sausage and cook in a grill pan. Remove from pan once browned, and add summer squash. Grill until tender. Top crust with sauce, cheese, squash and sausage. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes.

Posted in Italian Inspired, zucchini | Leave a comment

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

From September 12, 2015:

My biggest vice on the planet is sugar. I LOVE sweets. I gave it up for the 7 weeks preceding my wedding this year- all in the name of clear skin, and it was rough. So when I was dying for something sweet the other night (the first day of school), I wanted to make something that would satisfy my sweet tooth but did not contain refined sugars. I was also justifying that it was the Patriot’s home opener so I should have a celebration dessert. I made these and they were OUT OF CONTROL. I am going to make a huge batch next time and leave them in the freezer for those days when I just need dessert. I placed a square of high quality dark chocolate on top mostly because they were sad looking without, but they really didn’t need it. (But let’s be honest, the chocolate didn’t hurt the flavor.)

  •  1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal, ground in a food processor

  • 2 T coconut oil

  • 2 T peanut butter

  • 1/4 maple syrup

  • 1 t vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • fine sea salt

In a large bowl or standing mixer, combine oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add almond flour, cereal and salt, and beat again until combined.  Roll dough into small balls, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 5-10 minutes. Store in a tupperware container or freezer bag in freezer for a quick dessert or snack.

Posted in Dessert | Leave a comment