Easy tomato soup: vegetarian



10 to 20 tomatoes chopped
1 onion sliced
2 bay leaves
1 c veggie broth

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour

salt and pepper to taste


Add first four ingredients in a large dutch oven and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for about an hour, till the onions become soft and clear and tomatoes start to break down. Turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaves. With an immersion blender, puree the soup.

In a small pan, melt butter and then add flour stirring constantly to create a roux. Add one ladle full of soup to the roux and mix well, then add the roux mixture to the pot of soup and make sure all the roux blends well into the soup.

Salt and pepper or red pepper flakes to taste.

Serves 4: 131 calories per serving.

We found a food surplus program that delivers food to Phoenix every Saturday and for $12 you get 70 lbs. of vegetables. I split it with my friend, but you cannot imagine how much we each get. This week it was about 40 small tomatoes plus other veggies, squash and peppers.

I used about 20 in this soup and I did not peel them.

The addition of the buttery roux gives the soup a rich texture. I think you can also add a bit of creme fraiche instead.

If you are vegan, just have the soup as is and skip the roux.

You can top with croutons, sesame seeds or a few ribbons of basil.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fennel, beans, and greens soup: vegan



2 tbsp olive oil
1 bulb of fennel cut into slices
1/2 sweet onion cut into slices
2 cloves of garlic minced

1 bag of frozen greens, collard, spinach, kale
2 c veggie broth
red pepper flakes to taste
2 cans beans, cannellini or red kidney, drained

juice of one whole lemon
salt and pepper to taste

optional to add grated cheese to each bowl when serving or sprinkle with nutritional yeast


Sauté fennel and onions in oil till lightly browned, add garlic and mix quickly so not to burn the garlic.

Add broth, greens, pepper flakes and beans. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes.

Turn off heat and add lemon juice, salt and pepper.

When serving you can add some cheese.

Serves 4: 250 calories per serving.

This is a variation on a recipe from the NY Times. I cut back on the oil and garlic. It has a nice mild flavor and is very satisfying. We used mozzarella as suggested but added it to each bowl, about an ounce, then sprinkled with parmesan cheese too.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Pesto lasagne: vegetarian



1 tub of whole milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 tsp garlic powder
8 oz mozzarella cheese sliced thin
jar of marinara sauce
no boil lasagne noodles, you may need two boxes
4 tbsp parmesan cheese

pesto recipe


Mix ricotta cheese. eggs and garlic power together. Set aside.

In a large lasagne pan add about a half cup of sauce, place a layer of uncooked noodles on top. Layer more sauce, ricotta cheese mix and half the mozzarella. Add another layer of uncooked noodles. On this layer spread ricotta mix, then about half of the pesto. Add another layer of noodles, top with the rest of the ricotta and the rest of the pesto, add more noodles. On top of the noodles spoon on remaining sauce, parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella.

Bake covered in 400˙ oven covered with tinfoil for about 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8: 465 calories per serving.

I thought this combination would be delicious. It wasn’t. It was just good. The pine nuts from the pesto overpowered the delicacy of the sauce, and the combination just did not work for me.

When making this again, I would eliminate the sauce altogether and add two more eggs to the ricotta mixture, along with a half cup of water. I would also add a half cup of water to the pesto, so there is something for the noodles to absorb. I would layer each level with ricotta, mozzarella and pesto.

Then to top the whole dish I would make a bechamel sauce to cover. If I make this again, I will include all the steps.

Also, use cheaper, harder mozzarella, the nice, fresh mozzarella loses its water and turns hard, not stringy.

Rating: 2 out of 5.


Pesto: vegetarian or vegan



2 oz. pine nuts
4 tbsp parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
1/2 lemon pitted and halved
2 cloves garlic
1 avocado
1 tbsp olive oil
basil and parsley


Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to start mixing, use a spatula to push down sides and pulse until all ingredients are chopped and mixed. salt to taste.

Serve over pasta.

Serves 2: 350 calories each just for the pesto. 700 for whole batch of pesto. One cup of pasta adds 200 more calories per serving.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is my favorite combination for pesto. The avocado takes place of the heavy oils usually in pesto. I don’t measure my basil and parsley, pretty much an even amount of both, at least a cup full of each. But if I have less, it’s also ok.

You can split it into four servings as well, but I like it really creamy.


Joe froggers (dark molasses cookies): vegetarian



1/2 c sugar
1/4 c butter

1/2 c dark molasses
1/4 c water
2 tbsp rum
2 c flour
3/4 tsp salt (i like coarse salt)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice


Preheat oven to 375º.

Mix sugar and butter with a hand mixer till fluffy. Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand. It gets pretty thick, so I literally use my hands to mix.

Spoon by large tablespoon full onto cookie sheet. Press down to flatten and sprinkle a bit of sugar on top of each cookie.

Bake for about 14 minutes, they will be soft, so scoop them off the cookie sheet carefully.

You can make these vegan by substituting a different shortening for the butter. You can also omit the rum if you don’t want to use it.

Makes about 17 cookies about 2 inches wide. Each cookie has around 130 calories. The whole batch is 2210 calories, divide accordingly based on how many cookies you make.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

These cookies are delicious, they have a burnt caramel flavor from the molasses. And they have a unique history. Here is some info from wikipedia:

Joe Froggers are named for Joseph Brown (1750-1834), the keeper of Black Joe’s Tavern in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The cookies were invented by Brown’s wife, Lucretia Thomas Brown (1772-1857), who worked at the tavern.

Joseph Brown was a freed former slave, born to an African-American mother and a Wampanoag father. Lucretia Brown was the daughter of two former slaves. In 1795, Joseph and Lucretia Brown went in with another couple on the purchase of a saltbox house at the top of Gingerbread Hill in Marblehead, next to a mill pond. Eventually they bought out the other couple. The house was both their residence and the site of their tavern. Black Joe’s Tavern was known as a racially integrated gathering place for hard-drinking fishermen.

There are many different stories about how the cookies came to be called Froggers. According to some sources, they were named for the froglike shape the batter would form when it hit the hot iron skillet. According to others, they were named for the frogs in the nearby mill pond. The name may be a misspelling or a play on “Joe Floggers,” which were a kind of pancake, also used as a ship’s provision.


Summer squash bake: vegan



1 large summer squash seeded
1 large green pepper
1 potato
1/2 white onion

1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste


Depending on the type of squash you are using you may have to get the seeds out. You don’t have to do this with any squash where the seeds are small and edible like zucchini. Cut all the vegetables into bite size pieces and mix in a bowl with olive oil and salt.

I put these in a roasting pan and place it in a hot bbq grill to bake in there because it’s too hot to turn the oven on here in Phoenix in the summer. Check after 15 minutes and stir if veggies look like they are browning a bit, then cook for about 15 minutes more. They should be browned but not burnt.

Serves 2: 150 calories each serving, 300 calories for whole dish.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

We try to keep the calories low, so we only use a little oil, but if you are not worried about calories, another tablespoon of oil will be good.

This could be made by just grilling the squash, pepper and onion and cooking the potatoes then mixing all together. It’s a nice combination of flavors, no matter how you cook them. You can also double the recipe to serve more people.


Cauliflower steak: vegetarian



1 whole cauliflower cut into “steaks”

2 tbsp olive oil
garlic powder to taste
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp parmesan cheese


When cutting the cauliflower cut off part of the stem to make it flat at the bottom and to get the greens off, then, starting in the center cut out four steaks about 1 inch thick. the outer edges will fall off, you can roast the outer florets as well.

Heat oven to 400º.

Mix the rest of the ingredients for the basting. Coat each piece sparingly with this mix, save half to use after you turn the steaks over. Bake for 20 minutes and turn over, baste and bake another 20 minutes. If they do not turn a little brown on the edges and you’d like more, put under the broiler for a couple minutes to brown.

Serves 2: 180 calories each serving, 360 calories for the whole thing.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was fun to make, but really it’s much easier to just cut up the cauliflower into florets and pour the dressing over it, mix and roast. Steaks seem to be a fad right now, but does not do anything to add to the flavor or the presentation. We served these with a side of spaghetti with sauce.


Sweet potato and peanut soup: vegan



1 tbsp olive oil
2 chopped green peppers
1 chopped shallot
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp chopped ginger

3 cups veggie broth
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 can fire roasted tomatoes salsa flavor
1 large sweet potato cut in chunks
1 bag frozen kale mix
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or tabasco sauce

1 tbsp peanuts for garnish per serving


Sauté peppers and shallot until brown and soft, add garlic and ginger and stir till flavors are released.

Add broth, peanut butter, canned tomato, sweet potato, kale mix, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are soft.

Salt to taste.

Serves 4: 183 calories each serving, add 52 calories for the peanuts. The whole soup is 735 calories.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This dish can be made with any other vegetables than kale, spinach, mixed greens, etc. We had left over arugula, a zucchini, and some salsa from chipotle, I threw that all in the mix as well. We topped each serving with a tablespoon of peanuts. It has just enough heat and is very flavorful.


Banana and bean dip: vegan



1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion cut into small pieces
2 vegan Italian style sausages cut into rounds
3 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 cup prepared pasta sauce
1 can kidney beans with some of the liquid from the can

2 ripe bananas cut into rounds

1 tsp fennel seeds crushed if you like the flavor
salt to taste

tortilla chips for dipping


In a heavy sauce pan, on medium heat, sauté the onion in olive oil till light brown, add the sausage and cook for about three minutes, add garlic and stir for a few seconds until flavor is released.

Add the pasta sauce and the beans, and fennel if desired, stir well until heated through. 

Turn off heat and add the bananas, stir, then with a potato masher mash the mixture until it’s roughly mashed. It should have some chunks of everything showing. 

Add salt if needed and serve with tortilla chips.

Makes about 7 half cup servings: 165 calories each, 1155 calories for the whole batch. Tortilla chips calories should be added separately. Roughly 8 chips equals 120 calories. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I used to eat this dip with real sausage meat and was hesitant to try it with veggie meat. This actually came out really good. I used Rao’s arrabbiata sauce, which has a bit of heat, so if you like it spicier, add pepper flakes, or hot sauce. 


Irish soda bread: vegetarian



5 c all purpose flour
1 c sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt (preferable coarse)
1 tsp baking soda

1 stick of room temperature butter

2 cups of raisins
2 tbsp caraway seeds

16 oz of greek yogurt
1 large egg

milk as needed


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the first 5 ingredients with a fork. Add butter and work into mixture using your fingers until it forms small crumbles. Add the raisins and caraway seeds and stir.

Mix the yogurt with the egg and add to the dry ingredients until it’s just blended, then add milk as needed to make the batter sticky and soft using a wooden spoon.

Butter a 10 or 12 inch iron skillet. Spoon the batter into the skillet leaving it higher in the center. With a sharp knife cut through almost all the way down to the bottom into 4 quarters.

Bake for about an hour and 15 minutes or longer until pick or knife inserted in highest point comes out clean. Cool in the skillet for about a half hour, then remove it from the skillet and cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 32 slices: 150 calories per slice, 4725 for whole loaf.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I have made many versions of soda bread before, but this one is the best. It’s moist on the inside and crusty on the outside and I love the raisins and caraway seeds in it.

If you don’t have a heavy skillet, a pie plate will work. Just keep an eye on the baking as it may brown sooner.

I cut the bread into 4 quarters, then each quarter into about 8 slices. You don’t need to butter this bread, it’s delicious just toasted and plain.