Monday, May 27, 2013

Harictos Verts and Crimini Mushrooms served with Quinoa, Poached Egg, and Red Wine-Sundried Tomato Sauce

Harictos Verts and Crimini Mushrooms served with Quinoa, Poached Egg, and Red Wine-Sundried Tomato Sauce 

This is definitely a rustic-style comfort food made healthy!  The recipe is vegetarian and gluten free and could easily be varied to accomodate a vegan diet.  I used the sauce over  quinoa, instead of pasta, for a complete vegetarian-friendly protein.  The sauce could very easily be turned into a healthy-style "cream" sauce by adding 0% plain Greek Yogurt.  I actually gave it a try by putting a little bit of the sauce in a separate bowl and mixing it with Greek Yogurt and it added the creaminess of a heavy cream sauce without adding the fat.  I think this variation would be great on pasta!


  • 1 6oz can Organic Tomato Paste
  • 1 10oz can diced Hot Rotel Tomatoes
  • 1 cup jarred Organic Marinara Sauce (I use Newman’s Own brand)
  • ½ cup diced (or strips) sundried tomatoes (not in oil; add more to your taste)
  • 8 cloves garlic; minced (add less/more to your taste)
  • 1 Bell Pepper (I used ½ red and ½ green); diced
  • Basil; chopped to taste
  • ¼-1/3 cup Red Wine
  • ½ cup water (added to sauce to thin; be conservative)
  • Small handful of cherry or other small tomato (I left smaller ones whole, sliced bigger ones in half)
  • 1-2 cups Crimini (or Baby Bella) mushrooms; sliced in half
  • 2 heaping handfuls Haricots Verts (French Green Beans)
  • ½ cup uncooked Quinoa; prepared according to instructions (this is enough quinoa to serve 2-3 people; remainder of recipe feeds about 2x that so increase quinoa as needed)
  • 1 egg; poached (you need a pot of hot water + vinegar)*
  • Olive oil; to taste
  • Salt + Pepper; to taste (I used about 50/50 regular sea salt and smoked sea salt)
  • Parmesan; grated (to taste / optional)


  1. Sautee halved Crimini (or Baby Bella) mushrooms in sauté pan with olive oil and salt and pepper until tender.  Remove mushrooms to bowl and reserve liquid produced while cooking.
  2. In large sauce pan sauté minced garlic and bell peppers in olive oil.  When tender and browned add reserved mushroom “juice,” tomato paste, diced tomatoes, marinara sauce and sundried tomatoes.  Add wine, water, and salt and pepper and allow to cook down for 7-10 minutes on low heat.  Add chopped basil. 
  3. Add Haricots Verts and cook on medium-low temperature for 5 minutes or until beans start to get tender.  Add sautéed Crimini mushrooms and cherry (or other small) tomatoes.
  4. Continue to cook on low heat until Haricots Verts are tender and fully cooked (they should still have a little crunch to them).  Stir grated parmesan cheese into sauce if desired or use as garnish. 
  5. Plate quinoa (I packed mine in a mini-bowl and turned it out on top of my plate to have a molded-quinoa look); top with portion of Haricots Verts and Crimini in sundried tomato + red wine sauce.  Top with poached egg and garnish as desired.
  6. Enjoy with your left-over red wine!
* Not sure how to poach an egg?  See one of my favorite food blogs for instructions:

Notes on Variations + Dietary Restrictions--

  1. This sauce can easily be transformed into a healthy “cream” sauce to be used over pasta by adding 0% plain Greek Yogurt.  One caution:  Add the yogurt in small batches of the sauce and combine into larger portion to retain yogurt’s live cultures.  Using Greek Yogurt in the sauce will make it taste like a cream sauce without the added fat and calories and will boost the protein considerably.
  2. Recipe is Gluten Free and can be made vegan if poached egg and parmesan are omitted.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Candied Vegetarian Bacon and Maple Buttercream Frosting

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES with CANDIED VEGETARIAN BACON with Maple Butter Cream Frosting and Spiced Fresh Cherries


Chocolate Cupcake--
   [1] Follow directions on one box of Chocolate Devil's Food cake (use GF chocolate cake mix for GF variation).  
   [2] Replace 1/2 cup of water called for with coffee and add 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla to batter.
   [3] Use cupcake tin.  Insert cupcake wrappers into the tin.  Place roughly 1/4cup of batter (2/3 full) into each cupcake wrapper and then, if you desire, top each cupcake with about a tablespoon of spiced cherries (fresh cherries spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of cayenne)
   [4] Bake according to instructions on cake mix box.

Maple Butter Cream Frosting--
   [1] Cream together 2-sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 pound confectioner's sugar, and 1/3 cup pure maple syrup.  Add cinnamon to taste and 1 teaspoon salt; both optional.
   [2] Transfer frosting to a gallon-sized zip-lock bag that will serve as your pastry bag (or use dedicated pastry bag if available).  Cut a hole in one corner of the plastic ziploc bag and pipe frosting onto cupcakes when cooled. 

Vegetarian Candied Bacon--
   [1] Create spice rub for veggie bacon using 3/4 cup brown sugar, a pinch of curry powder, about 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon, and cayenne pepper to your taste.
   [2] Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and turn the oven to 300degres F.
   [3] Using 5-6 slices of vegetarian bacon (I used Morningstar Farms) pat on a thick coating of the spice rub on each side of the bacon.***
   [4] Bake for approximately 10-13 minutes and let cool before garnishing the tops of your cupcakes post-frosting.

***NOTE:  For GF variation do NOT use Morningstar brand veggie bacon.  It does contain wheat products.  Instead, if you are GF but not vegetarian use real bacon.  For GF and vegetarian, you can try to use brands like this: Augason Farms Gluten Free, Vegetarian Bacon Bits