Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spinach and Mushroom "Pesto"

I made up this vegan pasta dish hoping the kids would eat it. They loved it. You must have a food processor or blender to make the "pesto." This dish also is oil free. The olives and bullion cube bring a lot of saltiness. You should not need more.

1 lb whole wheat pasta

1 pint mushrooms

A large handful of fresh spinach

3 cloves of garlic

1 Vegetable bullion cube

12 green olives

Cook the pasta per the package directions. Add all ingredients to a food processor and process the heck it of it. Once the mixture is the consistency of pesto add the mixture to a pan heated to medium heat. Heat through, add to the cooked pasta and toss until the pasta is well coated.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Oil-Free Cilantro Hummus

This version of hummus has a bright and tangy flavor provided by lemon and fresh cilantro. This recipe creates a light-green hummus that is super-healthy and has very little fat because there is no tahini and no oil in it. You might think that you will miss all that fat, but you won't! I keep this hummus in the fridge at all times.

I have heard people say that a plant-based diet is too expensive, inaccessible, or too cumbersome.  I disagree.  This hummus costs less than $7 to make and it will feed two people for quite a while or give 4 people a full meal. All ingredients for this hummus were found in my local, small-town grocery store. Also, if you have a blender or food processor, any hummus is easy and quick to make.

Marcus' Green Cilantro Hummus
2 cans chickpeas (1 can drained the other with liquid)
2 green onions
Handful of fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves
1 lemon juiced
1 T ground cumin
Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until the consistency you want is achieved. If the hummus is dry, add more lemon juice or a little water. Serve with whole grain toasted pita bread; use as a sandwich spread, as a condiment for brown rice, or as a dip for raw vegetables. This hummus is full of flavor!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Plant-Based Black Bean Burgers

There is a small, but growing movement in our community to educate people about how a 100% plant-based diet can reverse heart disease, lower cancer rates, and improve quality of life. I do not know the stats right off hand, but our Oklahoma county ranks among the highest in the state for cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity.

The catalysts for this movement include a handful of doctors and our local hospital, who are following one of the hospital's missions to prevent disease in our area. They have been spurred on by the research of Cleveland Clinic Cardiologist, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., who has found that eating a plant-based diet can reverse heart disease.

My personal involvement in this is for a number of reasons. The first, and most important to me, is that I am getting older and need to take better care of myself for my family. I have been moving in the plant-based diet direction for about a year now. My wife introduced me to the writings of Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Campbell, author of The China Study. Also, the documentary "Forks Over Knives" (available on Netflix instant play) pushed me along this path to plant-based nutrition.

Don't get me wrong. I love (loved) to eat meat, eggs, milk, cheese and seafood. I like all of it, but I knew that I was eating too much of it. Weight gain, rising cholesterol, acid reflux, my dad's prostate cancer and heart problems pushed me to re-evaluate what I was putting into my body. With the growing library of nutritional information in my head along with other external factors I decided to make a change. As a matter of fact, it was irrational, in my mind, to continue on the path that I was taking.

Needless to say, living in an area with lots of cattle, steakhouses, and burger joints, the Esselstyn program may be slow to catch on. Hopefully with the healthy and delicious recipes I will share here, all of us southern Oklahoma carnivores can at least try this plant-based eating and lifestyle change that will lower our cholesterol levels, reverse heart disease, and lower cancer risks. (Please know that all recipes previously posted in this blog were written before I made this change.)

Black Bean Burgers (Vegetarian and Vegan Burgers)
1 can black beans rinsed and drained
1 can of diced tomatoes with chiles drained (Rotel)
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
2 cloves of garlic peeled
2 green onions with tops chopped
1 cup of carrots chopped
1 cup brown rice (cooked)
1 cup quick oats
Salt, soy sauce or Bragg's Aminos to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put the green onions, cilantro, carrots, and garlic cloves in a blender or food processor and process until pieces are finely minced to the size of lentils or smaller. Once a fine mince is achieved, add the rinsed beans and tomatoes with chiles until a paste (which is really more like a hummus) is formed.

Pour the paste into a bowl and add one cup of brown rice and 1 cup of quick oats and stir. (I like the brown rice because in makes the veggie burgers a little more moist.) Taste your mixture and add seasoning as needed. Form the mixture into patties and place on a lined baking sheet. This mixture should yield about 8 patties.

Place into the oven and cook for 12 minutes and then finish under the boiler of 2-3 minutes. All you want to do is brown the patties a little.

Assemble your burgers on whole wheat hamburger buns. Use a turner to pick up the patties from the baking pan and place a patty on the bun. I substitute mashed avocados for mayo as my spread, and loaded the sandwich with dill pickles, mustard, greens, tomatoes and onions. This "hamburger" is very satisfying and super-healthy. With recipes like these, some meat-eaters might be convinced to give this diet a chance!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Roasted Garlic Hummus Recipe compliments of Jamie Whitten

  • 1 can garbanzo beans aka chickpeas
  • 1 head garlic, roasted and squeezed out
  • 1/3 cup Tahini
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Several dashes cayenne pepper
  • 4 Tbls olive oil
  • ½ tsp. cumin (or more to taste)


    To roast garlic: Do not peel the head of garlic; instead, leave the entire head together, but cut off the top. Drizzle with olive oil and put in a garlic baker or custard cup covered with foil. Bake at 225 degrees for an hour or until soft.  Let cool and squeeze the pulp out of each clove. 

    Rinse beans in strainer and place in a food processor. Process a few pulses.  Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.  Adjust seasonings if needed.  A nice presentation is to serve the hummus in a flat bowl, sprinkled with paprika and drizzled with olive oil.  Some assorted olives are a nice addition to the plate.

  • Saturday, October 23, 2010

    Tex-Mex Cooking with Chef Wally (a.k.a. John Lopez)

    Chef Wally, also known as John Lopez, and his wife, Kathi recently taught us how to make the Tex-Mex food John grew up eating in Texas. The food was fabulous and the class was a hit! During the class John taught how to make red salsa, jalapeno "Chile Macho" (the name says it all), standard guacamole, rice, beans, cheese enchiladas and BBQ brisket enchiladas. John cooked all of these dishes in Swiss Diamond Nonstick cookware and used his Peppermill Supreme 2000 exclusively for freshly ground black pepper and salt. John Lopez is the author of the cookbook, Texas Barbecue 101 and if you want a signed copy, I am sure that we can get you one!

    “Enchiladas de Doris” Cheese Enchiladas
    (These are the enchiladas John grew up eating)

    12 corn tortillas
    1 cup canola oil + ½ cup
    1 cup flour
    1Tbsp Chili Powder = 1 tsp. Gebhardt’s Chili Powder
    1 tsp cumin powder
    ¼ tsp or less, curry powder (if you can easily taste the curry powder in the sauce, you put too much)
    1 Tbsp salt
    10-12 cups chicken broth
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 onion, minced
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1-1/2 Lb. medium cheddar cheese, grated
    ¼ Lb. Queso Fresca, crumbled

    Preheat the oven to 325°F. Heat 1 cup canola oil in a 3-4 quart sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add flour & stir to make a blond roux. Cook for a couple of minutes to remove “raw” flour taste. Do not brown. Add minced onion and garlic, stir; add chili powder, curry, cumin, and, stir to blend; cook for 1-2 minutes. Do not burn spices.
    Add chicken broth, stirring with a whisk to eliminate lumps. Add one half of salt. Stir & cook on low simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning & add more salt if needed. Cover, remove from heat. Let cool.
    Ladle some sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, lasagna pan, casserole, etc. Dish must be large enough to hold 12 enchiladas without crowding.
    In an 8 or 9 inch skillet, heat 1/2 cup canola oil. The oil should be hot enough to sear tortillas. Test temp by dipping an edge of tortilla in oil. It should bubble & sizzle.
    Dip a tortilla in the oil on both sides just for a couple of seconds. You are trying to “seal” & soften the tortilla. You can use a wood spatula for this. I use my fingers, very carefully dipping the tortilla, ALMOST, all the way in the oil.

    SAFETY NOTE: There is a very fine balance between temperature of the oil, just hot enough, but not too hot, and the length of time you dip, and the distance from the hot oil to your fingers. This technique was handed down to me from my mother. For safety reasons, I don’t recommend you try it, but it is interesting to watch.
    Let the tortilla drain over the hot oil. You can blot on clean towel or paper towel if you like. I don’t blot. Immediately dip the tortilla into the sauce mixture on both sides. Here again, I use my fingers, but a wood spatula will work fine.
    Place the tortilla on a work surface. Place a small amount of cheese and a few pieces of onion on the tortilla. Roll neatly and tightly and place in baking dish. Leave a little room between each enchilada.
    Continue until all enchiladas are in baking dish. Cover with sauce. Sprinkle onion & cheddar cheese on top, sprinkle crumbled queso fresco on top. Cover with foil & bake for 20-25 minutes.
    Remove the foil & bake for 5-10 minutes more until sauce mixture bubbles, then remove from oven, cover with foil & allow to “rest” for 5-10 minutes.
    Serve with your favorite sides of rice & beans, plenty of cold beverages. We always top our enchiladas with “Chile Macho”. This is a fresh salsa recipe handed down in my family. My father puts it on EVERYTHING. He is 98 and we all believe he has lived to this age by eating tons of this. Recipe is below.

    Chile Macho
    (The only condiment John's dad carries with him at all times!)

    12 Ripe Jalapenos
    12 cloves garlic
    Dash of salt
    Juice of 1 lemon or lime
    A scant few drops of vinegar

    When you select your jalapenos at the market, look for ones with a smooth skin, a nice dark green color, and “little light colored lines” running perpendicular the length of the pepper. The lines are an indication of ripeness.
    Remove stems from jalapenos and coarsely chop. Smash garlic with blade of knife and remove peel. Place jalapenos and garlic in food processor. Pulse, over & over to chop mixture completely and evenly. DO NOT CONTINUOUSLY PROCESS AS YOU WILL END UP WITH MUSH! Before food processors, my mother used to put ingredients in a sausage grinder and it came out great.
    Add lemon juice, salt, & vinegar. Mix well and allow to set up for at least a couple of hours. If it looks too dry add a little bit of water. Keeps in the fridge for a week.

    (Note to non-Texans: OK, this can be very hot. There are those folks who add a tomatillo or two or even a tomato or two. Removing the seeds and stems from the peppers takes away the heat. I don’t recommend it but there are those that do that.)

    Mexican Rice

    2 Tbsp canola oil
    1 Cup long grain white rice
    2 Cups chicken broth
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/3 cup onion, minced
    1 tsp Gebhardt’s chili powder
    ½ tsp cumin
    Dash curry powder
    1 tsp salt
    ½ tsp Mexican oregano

    Add oil to a saute pan or covered casserole pan, add rice & cook, stirring until lightly toasted, add onion and garlic, cook, stirring another 1-2 minutes. Do not burn garlic. Add salt and spices, stir to blend & cook for 1 minute. Add broth, stir. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low simmer. Taste broth to test seasoning. Add salt if needed. Cook for 20 minutes. Let rest 10-20 minutes. Serve.

    Roasted Salsa Rojo

    1 onion, peeled & cut in half
    4 large jalapenos
    4-6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
    2-4 tomatoes
    8-20 hot dried red chiles like chile Japon
    1-1/2 cups water, hot, not boiling
    Dash of vinegar
    Juice of I lemon
    ½ tsp. Mexican Oregano, crumbled
    1 tsp. salt
    1-2 cans (15 Oz.) of tomatoes (roasted if you can find them)

    Place jalapenos, onion, garlic, and red chilies in fry pan. Toast a few minutes then remove red chilies to hot water in a small saucepan to reconstitute. Continue toasting until all vegetables are charred a bit. You may need to remove garlic first to prevent from burning. Peel garlic. Chop all other vegetables rough chop. Place in food processor.
    (When red chilies are reconstituted, about 20 minutes, drain and add to food processor. Reserve water as you may wish to thin salsa with it.)
    Add salt and Oregano. Pulse until mixture is processed evenly. Do not puree.
    Add tomatoes, pulse to process evenly.
    Add lemon & vinegar, pulse to blend.
    Taste & add salt if needed.

    Wally Guacamole´

    4 Haas avocados, halved peeled and seeded
    1 clove garlic, pressed with a garlic press
    Juice of 1 lemon
    Salt to taste
    1/3 cup onion, diced
    1/3 cup diced tomato
    2 green onions, thinly chopped
    Cilantro leaves for garnish

    Place avocados in a mixing bowl. Using a small knife, chop the avocados into roughly ½ inch chunks. Add garlic, lemon juice, and ¼ tsp salt.
    Using a kitchen fork, blend the ingredients, mashing a bit, in the process. You do not want a puree or paste; you want this to be chunky.
    Garnish if you like. You can mix any of the optional ingredients, if desired, when mashing.

    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Chicken Salad

    My chicken salad recipe is really simple, but you will need a food processor. I do not like chunky chicken salad. I like my chicken salad to be more chopped up and this is why I use a food processor to make it. I use a Cuisinart Elite food processor.
    5 boneless and skinless chicken breasts

    2 stalks of celery

    1/4 medium onion

    1/2 cup pecans

    1 T Garlic Powder

    Salt and pepper

    1-2 Cup Mayonnaise

    Poach chicken in simmering chicken broth until done (about 15 minutes) Once chicken is done place in a food processor and mince it. Use the pulse button to get the chicken to the desired texture. Remove to a large bowl.

    Mince pecans, celery and onion in the same manner and pour into the bowl. Add the mayonnaise, salt and pepper and stir. If salad is too dry add a little of the cooking broth or more mayonnaise. Taste and add seasoning to your liking. Refrigerate immediately.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Pimento Cheese Spread

    3 oz. room temp. cream cheese.
    1 lb sharp white cheddar cheese grated
    1/2 lb. jack cheese grated
    2 roasted red bell peppers
    1 t. freshly ground pepper
    3 T. chopped green onion or minced white onion
    1/2 to 1 cup Hellmann's mayonnaise or homemade mayonnaise
    3 dashes of hot sauce
    1 t. garlic oil or granulated garlic
    1 t. paprika

    Preheat broiler on high and insert the peppers to roast. Keep an eye on them and roast them on all sides. Remove and wrap loosely in a towel or place in a zip-lock bag. Once cooled, remove the outer thin skin of the peppers.

    I use a gas burner to roast the peppers. If you go this route, place the peppers directly over the flame on the burner grate. Allow them to blacken on all sides and remove them. Wrap loosely in a towel or place in a zip-lock bag and allow to cool. Remove charred skin, core and seed and place in a food processor. Use the pulse function of your food processor and process until you get the desired texture you want.

    Whisk mayonnaise, peppers and cream cheese together to loosen the cream cheese. Grate cheeses in a food processor using the grating blades. Place cheeses, onions, hot sauce, paprika and garlic powder into the bowl with your pimento, cream cheese and mayo and fold until combined.

    Serve immediately as an appetizer with toast points or toasted pita bread. Of course, you can make a sandwich with it, too! If you refrigerate it the mixture will stiffen. Bring back to room temperature and it will relax.