Category Archives: Lunch

♥ Turkish Spinach And Lentil Soup

Baby, it’s cold outside. I know I sound like a broken record, but we are still snow-less here at Lake Tahoe. If you ask me, the lack of snow hardly makes the freezing temperatures worthwhile.

I like winter for the simple fact that I am able to justify serving soup for dinner for days on end. I love soup. In fact, I could live on it year-round. It’s the ultimate comfort food, as far as I am concerned. There’s nothing better than a bowl full of hearty and belly warming soup after coming in from the cold.

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Turkish Spinach And Lentil Soup

Adapted from Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant


1 cup dried lentils, rinsed

5 cups water

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 red onions, roughly chopped

4 medium carrots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

1 Tablespoon Mediterranean oregano

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending how spicy you want it

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

6 to 8 cups No-Chicken or vegetable broth (depending how thick you like it)

1 cup quinoa, soaked for 15 minutes and rinsed

1 16-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed


Rinse the lentils and bring to a boil in the water. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and carrots until the onions just begin to soften. Add the garlic, oregano, rosemary, cumin, cayenne, sea salt and bay leaves. Cook for a few minutes, but don’t allow the garlic to brown.

Meanwhile, begin soaking the quinoa in water.

Add the parsley and the tomatoes; stir and cook a few minutes. Then stir in the tomato paste until blended.

Add the broth, the lentils and the drained quinoa to the tomato mixture and lower the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the quinoa is cooked.

Add the spinach and cook another five minutes or so until the soup is heated throughout.

Serve with a side salad and crusty bread.


♥ Taco Salad In A Baked Tortilla Bowl With Creamy Chipotle Dressing

The mild autumn here in Tahoe ended abruptly with snow storms and freezing temperatures. The sudden change in the weather meant a hasty farewell to salads and grilled dinners outdoors in tank tops and flip-flops. And a very reluctant hello to months of slow cooked meals while wearing flannel and thick socks. I don’t even like flannel.

It brings to mind Nicolas Cage’s opening narrative (as H.I. “Hi” McDunnough) in Raising Arizona: “These were the happy days; the salad days as they say….” To say I’m bummed is a serious understatement. Buh bye, pretty flowers.

Then, just as abruptly, the snow is melting off and the temperatures are climbing back into the 60s and 70s once more. And it is supposed to be sunny every day for the next week or so. Woo-hoo! Sadly, my tomatoes will not be revived as easily as my spirits.

I hate to tempt fate and pull out the flip-flops again, but it looks like I can prolong the fair weather foods another week or so. In fact, I plan to extend my salad days as long as I am able.

Oh, how I love me some taco salad. Made with the usual cast of characters: lettuce, shredded carrot, green onion, tomato, avocado, sweet corn, beans (black or pinto), black olives, taco meat (I like the taco nut meat from Ani’s Raw Food Essentials, but Yves taco meat is good in a pinch) and raw pumpkin seeds.

What’s better than a taco salad on a plate? A taco salad in a baked (not fried) tortilla shell, of course! I like to spray the tortilla shell with some coconut oil and sprinkle it with the seasoning mix from this recipe before baking the shell in the tortilla bowl maker.

But, what makes this taco salad really special is the creamy chipotle dressing. The original recipe calls for a cup of vegan mayonnaise (yikes). In my humble opinion, my version of the recipe, made with silken tofu, is better. And lower in fat, too. So you can really pile it on. 🙂

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Creamy Chipotle Dressing

Makes about 2 cups


1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

1-1/4 cup prepared salsa (I like Costco’s organic salsa)

1 small lime, juiced

1 12.3-ounce package lite firm silken tofu (Mori Nu)

1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Blend coriander seeds in blender until coarsely ground. Add the salsa, lime juice, silken tofu, chipotle chili and black pepper. Blend until smooth.

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As for the weather outside, I’ll be sure to enjoy every second of it while it lasts. But, “…I preminisced [sic] no return of the salad days.”

Thanks, H.I.

♥ Fast Food

While the man is away; I’m on vacay. Seriously, who wants to cook for one? Well, sure, some people are that ambitious, but I’m not. Beside that, time spent in the kitchen is time away from the deliciously addictive Stephanie Plum series that I am now caught up in. Yep, that’s my guilty pleasure while the man is away for work: trashy novels and fast food.

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No recipe is required for this quickie meal (or snack), but here goes:

Bake at 400F on a baking sheet, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, for 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle some crushed red chili pepper flakes over the top of the pita pizzas and serve immediately.

Have your napkins ready!

♥ Quickie Meals

I would not have made a good professional mover. Aside from the heavy lifting requirement, I have discovered that I am far too organized (anal retentive) to succeed in that field. Apparently. Yes, this from the woman whose label maker still gives her goosebumps, but, c’mon guys: bathroom items packed with living room items and kitchen items packed with garage items: really?! By the time this is over, I will probably have two of everything since I find that it is easier to buy a replacement rather than open half a dozen boxes looking for one single item.

I still have not located all of my cookbooks, but I did find the important ones. Since I haven’t felt very creative lately (living out of boxes can do that to a person), I have been whipping up our favorites from the few books I have located so far. I think Belgian Style Seitan With Dark Beer from Vegan Planet may be J’s all-time favorite dish (it’s that cooking with beer thing again!). We serve it over House Shirataki Fettuccine Noodles.

And another one of our Robin Robertson favorites: Red Hot Chili Tofu from Vegan Fire & Spice (her picture on the blog is far better than mine, but trust me when I say that this easy dish tastes incredible). Just to try something different, I dredged the tofu in almond meal before wok frying it. Since the rice maker is M.I.A., we enjoyed this dish over Shirataki noodles again with some extra sauce.

The great thing about the Creamy Caesar Salad recipe from The Vegan Table is that it makes enough dressing for at least two meals. We tossed our salads with Yves Lemon Herb Chicken Skewers (we removed the skewers and cut the “chicken” into cubes) and garnished each salad with fresh diced tomatoes. We skipped the crouton recipe and, instead, we enjoyed fresh, hot artisan bread with our salads: 100% Whole Wheat Bread With Olive Oil from Healthy Bread In Five Minutes A Day.

And there are days that even these simple meals seem like too much work. I never tire of the ridiculously easy (and ridiculously delicious) baked potato. I didn’t realize how much I loved baked potatoes until I had a properly prepared baked potato:

Forget the aluminum foil and forget the microwave (two things I try to avoid, anyway). For the best baked potato, all you have to do is remember to put the potatoes in the oven an hour in advance. That’s it!

Scrub the potatoes, prick several times with a fork and roll the still-wet potatoes on a plate liberally sprinkled with kosher or coarse sea salt. Bake at 400F for about an hour, depending on the size of the spuds. Organic potatoes (always eat organic potatoes!) are generally smaller than regular potatoes, so the baking time may need adjustment.

We brush most of the salt off the skin before eating the potato, but the crispy skin still retains a lovely salty flavor. The inside of the potato is melt-in-your-mouth fluffy, unlike the steam-cooked result from aluminum foil or the microwave. We top our potatoes with Earth Balance non-dairy butter, Tofutti non-dairy sour cream, Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds and chopped green onion. J likes vegan “bacon bits” on his, too.

My copy of The Happy Herbivore Cookbook arrived after we did, which is fortunate because if it were packed in one of these many boxes I probably wouldn’t have found it yet! We are loving the quick and delicious Eggless Egg Salad for lunch, served on homemade bread with packaged shredded cabbage tossed with sesame oil and rice vinegar. Easy, filling and oh-so-good!

Someday, I will have a fully functional kitchen again. And my house will be organized and neat. And my broken nails will grow back. And I will be well-rested again. But I do not think that I will be eating any better!