Posts Tagged With: food

Valentina’s Cocina: Patatas Bravas

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of announcing the publication of Roots: Where Food Comes From & Where It Takes Us. Today I bring you the second of my recipes from the famed Senora Valentina. This simple recipe is delicious for veg*ns and meat eaters alike. It can be served as a tapas with toothpicks for spearing or as a nice side dish.


Spanish Olive Oil

1 finely chopped onion

2 crushed garlic cloves

Salt to taste

1/2 cup Spanish Sherry (dry white wine will also work)

4 tomatoes, chopped and seeded (or 1 14 ounce can)

2 tsp red wine vinegar

2 tsp crushed dried chilis

2 tsp Spanish paprika

2 lbs. potatoes


  1. Heat about 1 TBS of olive oil in the pan until smoking and then add the onions, cooking roughly 5 minutes. When the onions are soft, but not browned, add the garlic and cook for an additional minute, stirring continuously.
  2. Add the wine and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Then add the tomatoes, chiles, paprika, salt, and vinegar, reducing the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for roughly 10 minutes. Your sauce should have a thick consistency. OPTIONAL: Put the sauce in a food processor and pulse until smooth. (Valentina would smack you with her cane for this, but some people don’t care for a chunky texture.)
  3. Cut the potatoes into rough chunks. In a skillet, heat about 1 inch of olive oil. Add the potatoes and cook on medium-high for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are a pretty golden brown. Make sure to turn the pieces several times to cook evenly.
  4. Remove the potatoes using a slotted spoon and drain them on a paper towel, blotting gently to remove excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt.
  5. Warm up the sauce and combine with the potatoes.

Senora Valentina Tip: Prepare the sauce the morning before you plan to serve it (you can actually make it up to 24 hours in advance). Allow it to sit, either covered on the stove, or in the refrigerator, until you have finished the potatoes. This will give the sauce stronger, more melded flavor.

For a healthier version, check out this recipe test from Robin Robertson’s Vegan Fire and Spice.



Categories: Feed the Belly | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just Published! BlogHer’s Roots: Where Food Comes From and Where It Takes Us

There is something uniquely thrilling about the day a piece of your work is published. Today is such a day for me as BlogHer and Open Road Media release the ebook culinary anthology Roots: Where Food Comes From and Where It Takes Us. From the Open Road Media website:

A BlogHer anthology about food—and the warmth, nostalgia, and sense of belonging it inspires in all of us

Roots is a love story about food—an exploration of its rich interconnectedness with culture, memory, and discovery, penned by over forty authors and personalities from the culinary blogosphere. The anthology’s deeply personal essays serve up family history, local lore, and tantalizing stories of worlds newly discovered through food, accompanied by original photography and a collection of recipes that, no matter how far flung, taste like home.

My story, “The Saffron Rabbit” is about learning to cook in Madrid. For those interested in reading the 35 essays featured from culinary bloggers (and me), check out any of the following links:

BlogHer is also featuring a mini-site where readers can further enjoy the experience. On my end, I’ll be reading along, exploring the other journeys I’m lucky enough to be featured with. Stop by this coming Thursday for another addition to Valentina’s Cocina.


Categories: Feed the Belly, Write On | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

V is for Valentina’s Cocina

I’m pleased to announce that in the next few months two separate publications will feature different versions of “The Saffron Rabbit,” a story about how I learned to cook when I lived in Madrid. I won’t give too much away, but I’ll say that it involved my landlady, an elderly woman named Valentina who brought her granddaughter to translate and was a little too happy to use her cane as a correction tool for poor knife skills. In honor of those publications, and of Senora Valentina, I will be presenting a new series where several times a month I post Valentina’s recipes (along with a vegetarian/vegan adaptation).  Please visit in the coming months for more Spanish recipes straight from Valentina’s Cocina (kitchen). As this is the first post, I’ll start where she did, with a simple Gazpacho.

Authentic Madrid Gazpacho

 Many households in Madrid keep the concentrated version of this in the fridge, adding water to serve to drop-in guests on scorching afternoons. I’ve seen variations of Gazpacho recipes, but if you don’t include the bread, it’s not Gazpacho. Or so sayeth Valentina. It’s a great use for stale bread.


2 slices stale white bread, crusts removed

1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 TBS olive oil (Spanish if at all possible!!)

1 tsp coarse salt

1 cucumber, seeded and chopped, with some of the skin removed

1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped

4 to 5 ripe red tomatoes, skinned and seeded

2 TBS sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar will work if you don’t have sherry)

scant 3 cups ice water

pinch of cayenne pepper

pinch of cumin (This was my landlady’s secret tip)


  1. Soak the bread in water, then squeeze it out. Put it in a blender or food processor with the onion, garlic, olive oil, and salt. Puree.
  2. Add the cucumber to the mixture and puree. Add red bell pepper and puree. Finally, add the tomatoes and vinegar and puree. Chill mixture for at least 12 hours, preferably overnight. (You can put it in the freezer, but I think it doesn’t taste as good this way.)
  3. When you are ready to serve, dilute the mixture with ice water (don’t use ice cubes!!) and season to taste with cayenne pepper and cumin (I like mine hot). Arrange a selection of the garnishes listed below for people to add to the basic soup.

Garnish Ideas:

4 TBS fried croutons

2 hardboiled eggs, peeled and chopped

4 TBS chopped red, green, or yellow bell pepper

4 TBS chopped onion or green onion

Green or black olives, pitted and chopped (Spanish if possible!!)

Vegan/Vegetarian Options: This recipe is already fundamentally veg*n friendly. Just make sure that you are using vegan bread (or make your own) and omit serving the eggs as a topping choice.

Categories: Feed the Belly, Life and Other Nonsense, Objects de Art, Write On | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

H is for Happy Cassarole

My fear of cooking is a strange animal. What some people find relaxing, I have always found stressful. Instincts? None. If I didn’t have what a recipe called for, I panicked. The weird glitch in this machine is Spanish cooking. That makes sense to me. But that is a story for another time (come back for V!).

Changing our eating habits has changed the way I view cooking. Preparing food for my family is fun and easy. Vegan baking, especially, just makes sense to me. I use my growing collection of vegan cookbooks for inspiration but then adapt them to what I have in my kitchen.

The vegan experiment continues to be interesting. I find the more I cook with real ingredients, the less I want to use the fakes (soy cheese, soy burgers). My son’s perpetual runny nose as cleared up after over a year. Personally, my energy continues to escalate.

Monday afternoon my daughter and I were chatting about something or other (with a 5-year-old you never know) and she said, “Mommy, you should have a restaurant.” What should I call it, I asked her. She thought for a long minute and then said, “Mama’s Happy Gift of Food. And you could serve Happy Casserole every day.”

This made me feel so good about the changes we’ve made. Below you will find my “Happy Casserole,” a dish my daughter asks me to make every day. Mix it up, make it your own.

Happy Casserole (as named by my daughter)

Use whatever green vegetables you have on hand, fresh or frozen, if you prefer to peas and broccoli. I mix all the ingredients with my hands and let my kids help. Feel free to toss in a handful of your favorite savory seasonings. I used Italian Seasoning.


Two 15 oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 onion, chopped

2 cups carrots, chopped

1 1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped

1 1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup whole wheat Panko (or breadcrumbs)

3 TBS olive oil

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tsp salt

Cheese or rice/soy cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Mash up chickpeas with a fork or potato masher until they have the consistency of lumpy mashed potatoes (about 2 minutes).
  3. Mix vegetables into chickpea mash. Add panko and mix, the oil and mix, and the vegetable broth and salt. Mix one last time.
  4. Press the mixture into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes.
Categories: Feed the Belly, The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: , , , , ,

G is for Good Eats

Last night I arrived home after a fabulous weekend in Austin, Texas. Among the highlights were a Designing Women season 1 marathon, a visit to BookPeople, and tea at The Steeping Room. Most exciting (aside from sleeping in and seeing my friend Mitzi) was attending Texas VegFest at Lady Bird Lake. It was a wonderful event for vegans and meat eaters alike, with food varying from the super healthy (vitamin drinks and greens) to the deep fried vegan fare (it is Texas, after all). Here were my star samplings:

Good Karma Kitchen

This veg food truck hails from Fort Worth and I would like to personally thank them for making the trip because it made my trip. Their Spicy Asian Tacos put a veggie spin on Korean BBQ with amazing sauce and crisp vegetables. It had just the right amount of spice so that the flavors were elevated without blasting my taste buds beyond repair. So good I actually woke up this morning craving it. My friend tried their Deconstructed Tamales which were also fab, but those tacos will haunt me with their deliciousness. I will definitely be hunting them down when I’m in Fort Worth next month.

Capital City Bakery

While I am not bad at making vegan sweets, Capital City Bakery puts me to deep shame. My oatmeal cookie sandwich (I don’t even like oatmeal cookies!) had a divine texture, wasn’t so sweet I felt like I needed a trip to the dentist, and provided that little bit of comfort I want from cookies. With the generous portion, I was able to sneak bites throughout the day. Even in the heat the filling didn’t melt so I got to bask in the yummy for hours.

The Hearty Vegan

This Texas based tempeh sausage was insanely good. I tried both the lemon pepper and BBQ; win on both products. Beth and Becky, the ladies behind it, know how to throw down. The texture really held up to cooking and flavor, making each mouthful off my kabob as tasty as the last. I hope to see more of their products in my local store.

I was thrilled by the overall organization and vibe of the event. Next year I’d like to take my kids and husband with me as well. It’s the perfect place for my wacky daughter who has been known to loudly announce to the grocery store that “cow milk is so gross” and question how anyone can drink it. VegFest is definitely on my yearly must list now.



Categories: Feed the Belly, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vegan Chow Down: Full Meal Muffin

cover of Vegan Lunch BoxAs a veg mom, despite my kids eating meat, I like to give them healthy lunches that are not processed (and use minimal animal products). Enter The Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann. Holy cow, do I love this cookbook. It is packed full of creative lunch options that cater to all sorts of lifestyles (make ahead or morning of cooking). She also includes snack options and menu ideas for everyday to special occasions. The best part? Although it’s meant for kids, the food is so stinking good, it works for adults, too.

My kids lose their minds for the muffins in this book. The week I sent the peanut butter and jelly muffins (made with almond butter instead), my two-year-old son’s teacher said he applauded each day when he opened his lunch. What I love about the various muffin recipes is that I can make a batch on Sunday afternoon, throw them in the freezer, and we have quick, healthy lunches, breakfasts, and even snacks. Even if you don’t have kids, this cookbook is worth checking out for the healthy, easy options that make my lunches a little sunnier.

These full meal muffins are crazy good. I’ve noted my substitutions below, made just because I like to use what I actually have on hand.

The Full Meal Muffin by Jennifer McCann


1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup white flour (I used oat flour)

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 ripe bananas, peeled

3 TBS blackstrap molasses

½ cup apple juice, plus more as needed

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 zucchini, finely grated (about 1 ½ cups)

½ cup finely chopped or ground walnuts (I used chopped almonds)

½ cup currants or raisins (I used cranberries)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375º. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine both flours, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda in a mixing bowl and whisk together.
  3. Place the bananas, blackstrap molasses, apple juice, and apple cider vinegar in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.(Confession: The first time I made these, I wasn’t paying attention and put the zucchini in as well. It actually made the texture a little lighter in the final muffin, so I just do it that way.)
  4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together, then fold in the zucchini, walnuts, and currants or raisins. Use a bit more apple juice if needed to wet all the flour. (I don’t need the extra apple juice when I put the zucchini in the food processor.)
  5. Divide mixture evenly into the 12 lined muffin cups, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the top springs back to the touch. Remove muffins from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container or freeze in individual freezer bags to pull out and put into lunches as needed.



Categories: Feed the Belly, Life and Other Nonsense, The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vegan Fare: Product Review of Zen Soy Chocolate Pudding I blame Bill Cosby for this: sometimes I just want a cup of pudding. I don’t want to make it from a mix or actually cook. Instead, I want to peel back a lid, lick it, and dig my spoon into creamy pudding. Being vegan has diminished that experience . . . until now.

When I go to the natural grocers, one of my stops is in the substitute section to look at what types of dairy and meat free products have come in since my last visit. A few weeks ago, I discovered Zen Soy Milk Pudding. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but it was the only flavor available so my husband and I decided to give them a whirl.

Breaking into the pudding cup, it was just like being a kid again. Lid licking commenced and my spoon lifted out lovely clouds of smooth, glistening chocolate. The flavor was even better–rich and silky. It was a satisfying, divine way to treat myself after a long week. I know they have a number of other products, including a spin on Jell-O, and I can’t wait to try them. If they ever introduce pistachio pudding, I might dissolve into a pile of glee.

I do have one important request: please oh please start making Pudding Pops. I loved the heck out of those things when I was a kid.



Categories: Feed the Belly, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bring on the (Vegan) Bowl!

Image Courtesy of Part Time Vegan

Next Sunday marks the Super Bowl, a day famous for snacks and party food. OUt here in West Texas, vegan food isn’t exactly in abundance on those buffet tables. So I’m looking for the best links, recipes, and products for vegan style Super Bowl food. What do you take to your get together that even the meat munchers can’t refuse?

Post them below and I’ll share them throughout the week. If you are sharing something from your own kitchen, make sure to link your blog so I can give you a shout out!



Categories: Feed the Belly, Let Me Entertain You, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BlogHer Call for Food Writing!

In lieu of my normal Vegan Chow Down Recipe and Review, today I wanted to spread the word to all the fab femme foodie folks out there who occasionally stop by. From BlogHer:

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! Yes, that’s right: BlogHer is announcing its next e-book project, in partnership with Open Road Media! ROOTS: Where Food Comes From & Where It Takes Us. We invite you to submit your post for publication, and be a part of this delicious journey to places familiar and far-flung!

canned foodCredit Image: on Flickr


  • FAMILY: Your personal roots and traditions
  • LOCAL: Discovering the foodways where you live
  • HISTORY: Cooking’s roots and culinary history
  • TRAVEL: Exploring other cultures through food

What We’re Looking For

This book will not be a cookbook — though we expect to publish a handful or so of fine recipes. It’s more a love story about food, a collection of great writing, thinking and photography about the roots of specific meals, the memories that food triggers, what is preserved about a culture in its recipes, how food and cooking are tied to travels, as well as the roots we call home.

The Particulars

  • Entries will be chosen for publication by the BlogHer editorial team. We will pay $50 for each accepted post.
  • Submissions can NOT be recipes alone. If you want to submit a recipe, it is because it tells a “roots” story related to one of the above topic areas, and we ask that you include a headnote or accompanying text of at least 250 words. Recipe submissions that don’t meet this requirement will not be considered.
  • When you submit the piece, please include the category name (i.e. Family, Local, History, Travel) along with the title. We may change categories based on the total submissions we receive, but it will help us know how to think about your piece.
  • You must be the copyright holder (i.e. writer or artist) of all works you submit. Feel free to submit as many works as you like.
  • You can create something new to submit, or send us something you’ve already run on your blog, or a hybrid.
  • It’s likely that posts will be edited for the book, so you’ll hear from us to work together on the edits if we pick your submission.We will give notice regarding submissions’ acceptance/decline on or before March 8.
  • Deadline for submission: Midnight, February 11

Submit Now!

For more information and to submit click HERE. Hope to see some of my favorite food writers turn up in the pages of the exciting book!




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Vegan Fare: Product Review of Sophie’s Kitchen Seafood

One of the things that I love is trying new vegan products. Last Friday I ventured into the frozen section to replenish some of my vegetable staples when I spotted (by the waffles for some odd reason), Sophie’s Kitchen products. Their bright yellow packaging caught my attention as they promised Vegan Crab Cake, Vegan Prawns, Vegan Fish Filets, and Breaded Vegan Shrimp. I was intrigued and decided to try the Breaded Vegan Shrimp and Vegan Crab Cake.

Both products are soy free, made from konjac root and flavored with seaweed. I had never heard of konjac before, but I was pleased to see an alternative protein to soy. Both the protein and fiber levels are high and the fat level isn’t too terrible. Sodium wise, they are a little higher than I normally like, but for convenience food, they aren’t bad at all.

The preparation for both was simple–put them in the oven at 375 for 10 to 15 minutes. I was actually able to cook them both on the same cookie sheet. The shrimp were pretty solidly frozen together and separating them caused some of the breading to come off. If we have these again, I would let them thaw for about 30 minutes in the fridge before trying to separate them.

After cooking, the shrimp were super tasty. My husband dug them, as did I, although my toddler had trouble chewing them, so I had to cut them up. If memory serves, they are a bit chewier than real shrimp. The flavor was good though, and I would definitely enjoy having them again with some homemade cocktail sauce (ooo–or as the filling for a Po’ Boy!).

I was less in love with the crab cakes. While the flavor was good, the texture was on the soggy side. Next time, I will pan fry the cakes to crisp them up. On the other hand, my kids loved them more than the shrimp and were about to do battle to the death for the last one.

Overall, I think this line shows promise. I am eager to try the prawns in a stir fry–if they are anything like the vegan shrimp, they should take sauce well and perhaps even soften up in the wok. I’m also thrilled that they were in my normal local grocery store, saving me a trip to the specialty store. The company, judging by its website, seems genuinely concerned about eco and cruelty issues, so I would be happy to give them my business again.



Categories: Feed the Belly, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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