Tag Archives: onion

Simple Summer Sauce


In the summer, I love to make nice chunky tomato sauce with whatever local vegetables I can get my hands on. The farmers’ market has been kind and supplied me with the perfect ingredients.

Start by heating two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in your favorite pot over medium heat. I use a six quart dutch oven so I have plenty of room to work with.

Dice one large sweet onion and three large carrots. Add into the dutch oven, salt well and sauté until the onion is translucent.

While the onion and carrots sauté, finely mince four to six cloves of garlic; depending of how much garlic you prefer. My family loves garlic so I use six cloves. Add into the dutch oven and sauté until fragrant.

Two green peppers, diced, get added in next. Continue to sauté until all of the vegetables are beginning to get tender.

Strain six quarts of whole tomatoes and add to the vegetables. I used canned tomatoes from our pantry; whatever you have in your pantry will work. Stir well and break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Add in one cup of your favorite red wine. I had a beautiful bottle of Merlot on hand that my husband’s coworker, a winemaker, had given us. Always cook with a wine you enjoy drinking and you can not go wrong.

Bring to a boil and immediately turn the temperature down. The sauce should barely be at a simmer. Continue to simmer for two to three hours. This gives the flavors generous time to marry and also allows the sauce to thicken. Stir occasionally.

Add in some fresh thyme, basil and oregano. I used fresh picked from my herb garden, but herbs from the farmers’ market, store bought, or in a pinch dried herbs will work also. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

As is, this makes a nice chunky sauce. If you prefer a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender until it reaches the desired texture. The recipe makes enough for three batches, one to enjoy and two to freeze for future enjoyment.

Sausage Pasta skillet

Whenever dinner can be ready in under thirty minutes while only using one skillet, it is a good thing. Lately, there have been an overwhelming number of pasta one pot wonders floating around the internet. I admit, I was skeptical, but it really works! This recipe is my first attempt at one of these meals and I will definitely be creating more.


First, lightly brown one pound of sweet italian sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. This will add flavor and make the sausage easier to slice. When the sausage is lightly browned, remove from the skillet and set aside until cool enough to slice.


While the sausage is browning, slice one onion, two shallots and five cloves of garlic.


Add one tablespoon or so of extra virgin olive oil into the skillet and add in the aromatics. Salt well and sauté until they begin to soften.


Add the sliced sausage, oregano, basil and red chili flakes to the aromatics. continue to sauté until the sausage is almost cooked through. The onions and shallots will be beautifully caramelized by now.


At this point, add in one quart of tomatoes, two cups of chicken broth, and one-half cup of plain almond milk. We canned tomatoes this summer so I used those. You could substitute one can of whole or diced tomatoes. You can also use milk or soy milk instead of the almond. Bring to a boil.


Add in the pasta, turn down the heat, and cover. You want it to remain at a strong simmer. Cook for ten to twelve minutes until the pasta is cooked to your taste.


When it is done cooking, the pasta should be tender and the sauce will have thickened up nicely.


Now it is time to add in the cheese! I used dairy free ricotta, but soft tofu, full dairy ricotta, or even fresh mozzarella would also work well. Also add in a generous sprinkle of nutritional yeast, or parmesan cheese if you prefer.


Stir well until the cheese is fully incorporated. The sauce will take on a beautiful pink hue.


Allow to sit off the heat for a little while prior to serving so the sauce thickens up to your desired consistency.


Serve topped with additional nutritional yeast or parmesan. Had I not forgotten, I would have also served garlic bread on the side.

Vegan French Onion Soup

In our house we love onions. For some reason, the thought of making French Onion Soup always intimidated me. Then I tried it! While time consuming, it is not as difficult as I feared. My version is vegan. Perfect for whether you are vegan or just looking for a great Meatless Monday option.


First? The onions! Garlic too! This recipe requires quite a few onions. Two pounds each of yellow onions, red onions, and vidalia onions. I prefer the different layers of flavor provided by using different varieties. If you prefer, you can use all yellow onions or any variety you like. The most important thing is to have approximately six pounds of whatever onions you choose. Also, six cloves of garlic.


In a six quart dutch oven over low heat, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons of dairy free butter substitute heat until melted.


This allows time to start slicing!! Halve and thinly slice all of the onions. This step alone takes about a half hour.


Once all of the onions are sliced, turn the heat up to medium and add all of the onions into the dutch oven. Press all of the garlic in as well.


Slowly allow the onions to caramelize, stirring often. This step can not be rushed! Three hours so so later they should be nicely caramelized. I did warn you this was time consuming, right?


Add one and a half cups of red wine, one half cup of balsamic vinegar, four cups of homemade vegetable stock, four bay leaves, thyme, and salt to taste. Simmer until all of the flavors are beautifully combined; this will take approximately one hour. Remove the bay leaves.

A while ago, I read a great tip for making vegetable broth. When cutting up vegetables like carrots, celery, mushrooms, etcetera, save the scraps in a gallon size freezer bag. When the bag is full, dump the vegetables in four quarts of water, bring to a boil, then turn down heat and let them simmer for a few hours. The end result is a delicious, healthy, salt free vegetable broth. It can either be used immediately of frozen for later use.


Since we do not have oven safe crocks, this is where I stray a little further from tradition. Slice a loaf of crusty bread. Place the slices on a baking sheet and top with dairy free swiss cheese. Into the oven, set to broil.


Keep an eye on them, when nicely browned remove from the oven.


Ladle the soup into your favorite soup cup or bowl. Top with the cheesy bread and enjoy! I was hoping to have leftovers to simmer roast beef for sandwiches in, but that did not happen. Maybe next time!

Kale Stuffed Shells

I love kale! I also love stuffed shells. One day I thought “why not combine them”? The resulting dish was a hearty, healthy and delicious meal! As a bonus, this recipe made enough for two batches. One to enjoy and one to put in the freezer for a quick meal another day.


Dice and sweat two onions and five cloves of garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions are translucent.



This beautiful bunch of kale gets chopped, on the small side, and added to the skillet with the onions and garlic.


Meanwhile, mix together two containers of dairy free ricotta, half bag of dairy free mozzarella, two eggs, two tablespoons of nutritional yeast, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Tofu can be substituted for the dairy free ricotta if you can not find it. Also, the eggs can be omitted to make this vegan. I prefer the texture with them though. You can also feel free to use full dairy cheese if you prefer.



Once the kale has wilted nicely, combine with the dairy free ricotta mixture.



Next cover the bottom of a nine by thirteen baking dish with sauce. We used two pints of our roasted garlic tomato sauce from this summer’s canning project. Feel free to use whatever sauce you have in the pantry.


While preparing everything, cook one box of large stuffed shells two minutes shy of the directions. They will continue to cook while baking. You do not want mushy pasta! Drain and rinse in cold water. Stuff each shell with about a tablespoon of the dairy free ricotta mixture and place in the baking dish.


Once the baking dish is full, cover the shells with more sauce, the remaining half bag of dairy free mozzarella, and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.


Bake in a 375* oven for fifteen minutes covered and an additional fifteen minutes uncovered. The cheese should be melted nicely.


These shell are delicious, healthy and also very filling! I could only eat three!

Roasted Veggie Pasta

One of my favorite things about summer is all the fresh, delicious, local vegetables available at our farmers’ market. Since these vegetables have been winning my heart, I have been creating simple dinner dishes highlighting them.

Veggies Before

For this dish, I used four large tomatoes, one large zucchini, one large yellow squash, three banana peppers, two onions, and four cloves of garlic. The larger vegetables got quartered and sliced. The peppers and garlic just got sliced. Place the vegetables on a baking sheet.

Next I picked a few handfuls of parsley and oregano from the herb garden and tossed the whole leaves over the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper and your prep work is done.

Roasted Veggie Pasta 2

After thirty minutes in a 375* oven, the veggies are still slightly crisp but roasted nicely.  .

Roasted Veggie Pasta 3

In less time then it took the vegetables to roast, I cooked a package of quinoa pasta according to the package directions. When the vegetables come out of the oven, toss  with the cooked and strained pasta. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Roasted Veggie Pasta 4

All that is left is to enjoy the flavors of the season, and we certainly did!

Farmers’ Market Frittata

A trip to our local farmers’ market yesterday provided me with some much-needed inspiration. Before we get to today’s blog post, let me apologize for my absence the past couple months. Life threw me some punches and my blog suffered while I rolled through them.

Now, onto our fabulous brunch inspired by yesterday’s market. After yoga, we strolled the farmers’ market and we were starving by the time we reached home! So, I threw together this quick frittata with ingredients we picked up while there.

Farmers' Market Frittata (1)

A twelve inch skillet is heating up on the stove top over medium heat while the first of the veggies are getting prepped. Two fresh sweet onions, two fresh cipollini onions, four fresh garlic cloves, a half cup of broccoli florets, and a half cup of cauliflower florets are rough chopped and tossed into the skillet with two turns of extra virgin olive oil. Salt well and sauté until the veggies begin to get tender.

Farmers' Market Frittata (2)

While those veggies are sautéing, rough chop a good size handful of kale and swiss chard. Once the other veggies begin to get tender, add to the skillet.

Farmers' Market Frittata (3)

Continue to sauté the veggies until the greens wilt. While the greens are wilting, whisk together twelve eggs and one-half cup of unsweetened almond milk seasoned with salt and pepper.

Farmers' Market Frittata (4)

Pour the egg mixture over the veggies. Using a spatula, continue to go around the edge of the pan moving the eggs toward the center until they begin to set.

Farmers' Market Frittata (5)

Once the eggs begin to set, move to the oven, which has been preheated to 400*. Cook about ten minutes until the edges begin to brown.

Farmers' Market Frittata (6)

Once the edges are brown, sprinkle a quarter cup of non-dairy mozzarella cheese over the top.

Farmers' Market Frittata (8)

Once the cheese is nice melted, about five minutes later, pull the frittata out of the oven and let rest for another five minutes or so.

Farmers' Market Frittata (10)

Slice the frittata as you would a pie, into eight nice size servings. I served it along side some sliced avocado and ezekeil toast. After we ate, we decided to deliver some to our local farmers as a thank you for providing the delicious veggies!

Easy Cioppino

During lent, I try my hardest to remember to make seafood dishes on Friday for my Catholic husband. I must admit, some weeks it works out better than others. For Good Friday, I decided to try my hand at a quick and easy cioppino. This is one of my favorite rustic italian dishes. Best part? A healthy and nutritious one pot meal that can be on the table in around thirty minutes!

Easy Cioppino 1

To start, the aromatics. One medium onion, two shallots, and five cloves of garlic.

Easy Cioppino 2

Roughly chop the onion and the shallots. I left the garlic whole to put through the garlic press. If you prefer, the garlic could just as easily be diced or grated.

Easy Cioppino 3

The onion and shallot go into my favorite dutch oven with about two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. My favorite olive oil right now is Arbequina because it has such a rich buttery taste.

Easy Cioppino 4

Once the onion and shallot start to get tender, press in the garlic. Add dried oregano, basil, red chili flakes, salt and pepper. In the summer, I would definitely use fresh basil and oregano. Sadly, this time of year, I didn’t have any on hand. Saute two to three minutes until fragrant. By now, the smells of the spices wafting through the house will make your mouth water.

Easy Cioppino 5

Add four cups of unsalted seafood stock. If you don’t have seafood stock clam juice or vegetable stock would work nicely as well. Whichever stock you choose, I recommend sticking to unsalted so you control the sodium in the recipe. Also add in one thirty-two ounce can of chopped san marzano tomatoes.

Easy Cioppino 6

Now for the seafood. This can be varied according to your preference, what looks fresh, and what inspires you at your local seafood monger. I decided on one pound of cod, one pound of oysters, one pound of scallops and one pound of shrimp. Confession time. I bought the preshucked oysters. Less work and still fresh and delicious! The cod gets cut into roughly one inches cubes, while everything else stayed whole. I completely forgot to take pictures of the rest of the seafood, but I am sure you get the idea.

Easy Cioppino 8

Add in a handful of chopped fresh parsley, the cod, scallops and oysters. Are you drooling yet? I was at this point! Cook for approximately three minutes.

Easy Cioppino 9

Now it’s time to add in the shrimp. Had the scallops been on the small side, I would have waited to add them until now as well. Simmer, covered for an additional four minutes or so until the shrimp are a beautiful shade of pink and fish flakes nicely. Most important word of advice? Do not over cook the seafood!

Easy Cioppino 10

At the last-minute, add in another handful of fresh chopped parsley.

Easy Cioppino 11

Enjoy with some nice crusty bread. My only regret with this meal? That we do not have larger bowls!

Scrumptious Shrimp & Grits

A few years ago, my hubby and I spent the weekend in DC and had the pleasure of eating at Founding Farmers. If you’ve never been there and find yourself in DC, I highly recommend it. My hubby ordered the shrimp and grits and we agreed that it was the best shrimp and grits we had ever had. Since then, I have been dreaming of those shrimp and grits. Finally, I decided to create my own version. According to my hubby, they are even better. I am not so sure about that, but they are scrumptious!

Shrimp & Grits 2

First things first, get the grits on the stove top. These will take the longest, about fifteen to twenty minutes. Boil three and a half cups of water in a large skillet. Once boiling add three-quarters cup of grits, one teaspoon of salt, and one tablespoon of earth balance. Cover and stir occasionally.

Shrimp & Grits 1

Meanwhile, dice up one onion and one serrano chili. I was looking for a little kick to balance out the creaminess of the grits and I found it in the serrano!

Shrimp & Grits 4

Melt one tablespoon of earth balance in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, serrano and a pinch of salt. Saute until the onion is translucent, only a few minutes.

Shrimp & Grits 3

This is where the creole mix comes in. You can use store-bought mix, but I prefer to mix up my own so that the seasoning can be switched up to taste. It is like a party in your mouth! I always have some on hand.

To make the creole mix, in a small mason jar combine: six tablespoons of sweet paprika, two tablespoons of onion powder, two tablespoons of garlic powder, two tablespoons of dried oregano, two tablespoons of dried basil, two tablespoons of cayenne pepper, one tablespoon of dried thyme, one tablespoon of black pepper, one tablespoon of white pepper, and one tablespoon of celery seed. Shake well to combine.

Shrimp & Grits 6

Generously coat one pound of peeled and deveined shrimp with the creole mix. Get your hands in there and get dirty! Our hands are our best kitchen tool.

Shrimp & Grits 10

All this time, the grits should have been stirred occasionally. At this point, add in one-half cup of non-dairy cheddar cheese and stir well to combine. Continue to simmer.

Shrimp & Grits 7

Add the shrimp into the skillet with the onion and serrano. Saute until the shrimp begin to get pink. It will not take long, only two to three minutes. Do not over cook the shrimp! Rubbery shrimp will not be scrumptious shrimp.

Shrimp & Grits 8The grits are done when they are nice and tender, as well as deliciously creamy.

Shrimp & Grits 9

The shrimp are done when they are nice and pink. I can not say often enough….do not over cook the shrimp!

Shrimp & Grits 11

Time to plate up and enjoy. Create a pool of the cheesy (non-dairy that is), creamy grits and spoon the shrimp mixture over them. Dig in!

If you are in DC and want to check out Founding Farmers, and the dish that inspired this recipe, their website is:


I promise you will not be disappointed!

Yesterday’s smashed potatoes? Today’s potato pancakes!

I love do-overs. In this context, when I say do-overs, I mean taking one day’s leftovers and creating a completely different meal with them. Anyone can heat leftovers up in the microwave. A do-over takes some real thinking though.

These potato pancakes are one of my favorite do-overs by far. One morning, I was scrounging through the fridge looking for something to eat for breakfast and this recipe was born.

Potato Pancakes 1

Start with leftover smashed potatoes. Of course, ours are dairy free. Maybe about two cups worth. If you have more and want more pancakes, just up the rest of the ingredients as well.

Potato Pancakes 2

Next I chopped up half of a white onion and half a poblano pepper for a little zip. You could switch this up by adding scallions, chives, any type of pepper, or red onion.

Potato Pancakes 3

In a large mixing bowl, to the smashed potatoes add: one large egg, three-quarters cup of flour, one-quarter cup of non-dairy cheddar cheese, the chopped onion and poblano, salt and pepper. To make these vegan, you could use a tablespoon or so of canola oil to replace the egg.

Potato Pancakes 4

Mix until well combined and they no longer stick fast to your hands. If needed, add more flour.

Potato Pancakes 5

Take a meatball size amount of the potato mixture and form pancakes. As you can see, this recipe made six decent sized pancakes.

Potato Pancakes 6

While getting the pancakes ready, my favorite cast iron skillet was on the stove. Heating in the skillet, over medium heat, is a small amount of canola oil. I like canola for this because it doesn’t change the taste of the potato pancakes.

Potato Pancakes 7

Drop the pancakes carefully into the skillet. Don’t cramp the skillet! If you do the pancakes will be greasy. In my nine-inch skillet I fried up three at a time.

Potato Pancakes 8

Once you drop them into the skillet do not move them for three minutes! Allow the pancakes to get nice and browned and then flip.

Potato Pancakes 9

After cooking an additional three minutes remove the potato pancakes to a paper towel lined plate while you cook up the remaining three. This will absorb any of the excess oil.

Potato Pancakes 10

These would be delicious and flavorful if you stopped and ate them right here! You could also add some sour cream and it would be like eating a crispy loaded baked potato.

Potato Pancakes 11

For me? Sriracha is the perfect topping! Gives them a little additional kick and also makes for a nice plate. No need to wonder what to do with those leftover smashed potatoes anymore.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

During the long, cold, dreary months of winter there is nothing better to me than a nice, warm, hearty pot of chili. Just the smell of it cooking on the stove warms the soul. When it is ready it warms the body as well. This chili is one of my favorite meatless versions. Don’t let the fact that it is meatless fool you, it will stick to your ribs and fill you up nicely!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili 1

To start, warm a tablespoon or so of your favorite extra virgin olive oil in a dutch oven or other soup-like pot over medium heat. Dice one large onion and one entire head of garlic.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili 3

Peel and dice two large sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili 6

Add the onion, garlic and sweet potatoes into the dutch oven with the extra virgin olive oil. Salt well and saute until the onion is translucent.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili 7

No chili is complete without peppers. For  this batch I used two red italian peppers, three green bell peppers and one purple bell pepper. Rough chop them, no need to be precise. I like my food rustic looking. Add the peppers into the dutch oven and continue sauteing until they begin to soften.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili 10

Once the peppers begin to soften, add in four cups of vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Once the potatoes begin to soften, add in two cans of unsalted diced tomatoes.Season well with salt, pepper, cumin, cilantro, ancho chile powder and chipotle morita flakes. Simmer thirty minutes over low heat.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili 11

Rinse and strain two cans of low-sodium black beans. Add into the chili and continue to simmer an additional fifteen minutes or so until the potatoes are soft.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili 13

Serve all on its own, over rice or with some nice crusty bread. This meal is perfect for meatless Monday or sharing with a vegan friend. Although, I need no excuse to enjoy it!

Mrs. Twinkle

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