Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mushroom Risotto "Rice Balls"

I think my new favorite reason to make risotto is leftovers!  I seem to have an inability to cook just enough to feed the family- I always seem to make enough to feed a small country!

I recently made some kick-butt mushroom risotto and in typical form made enough to feed the entire neighborhood. We ate it for a couple of nights and still had leftovers. Since it was way to good to let any of it go to waste I had to get creative in order to use the rest of it.

Rice balls are something I grew up eating. My Grandmother made them as did my Mother, her siblings and now my cousins.  So as I was thinking about what to do with this divine left over risotto rice balls came to mind. Hmm... why not take the leftover risotto form it into balls and fry it? Now, these are nothing like the rice balls of my youth (hence the reason I put rice balls in quotes for the recipe title), but it seemed worth a try.

Honestly, I think these are nothing short of genius!  Mr. Meat and Potatoes ate the risotto for dinner and liked it but said he liked it even better as a rice ball.  This is well worth a try!

Mushroom Risotto "Rice Balls"

2 cups aborio rice
2 cups mushrooms, chopped (I used shitake, cremini and oyster)
4 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp thyme, chopped
1 tbsp plus 1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cup dry white wine
7 cups mushroom stock
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup white corn meal

Place the seven cups of mushroom stock in a large pot and heat but do not let it boil.  In a dutch oven or other largish pot heat one tablespoon of olive oil.  Add garlic, mushrooms and thyme and saute until starting to soften.  Add the aborio rice and allow to heat until the rice is somewhat translucent and starts to "pop" (it will sound  a bit like Rice Krispies. Add 1 cup of white wine and stir until wine is fully absorbed by the rice.  Ladle in the warmed mushroom stock one ladle at a time stirring until rice absorbs the liquid.  Once all of the stock is used add the additional 1/4 cup wine and stir until it is absorbed by the rice.  Remove from the heat and stir in the nutritional yeast. Season with salt and pepper.

You could stop here and have a lovely risotto!

To make the rice balls spread the risotto mixture onto a pan and allow it to cool.  Once cool enough to touch roll the risotto into balls and dredge in the cornmeal. 

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a saute pan and fry the balls until golden brown all over.

Note: This makes a lot of risotto! If you are going to just make the rice balls you  may want to cut the recipe in half. These would make a wonderful appetizer or hors d'eouvre.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Tourist Trail: A Book Review

Recently I was contacted by Ashland Creek Press about reviewing The Tourist Trail by John Yunker; a novel that explores our relationship with our environment and the animals that live in it.  I was really humbled to be asked and most excited to receive a signed copy of the book in the mail. To quote the inscription in the book:

"Here's to getting off the trail."

The book is simultaneously an adventure story, a love story, and a novel that addresses the ethics of the (over)fishing of our oceans, the whaling industry and animal protection. It explores the question of limits- how far is too far when it comes to protecting the animals we share our environment with?

Angela Haynes is a naturalist studying Magellanic penguins in Patagonia.  She is a loner who is more comfortable with the penguins than other humans.  That is, until she finds Neil Campbell aka "Aeneas" washed up on shore. Aeneas is the captain of "The Arctic Tern" and the leader of the Cetacean Defense Alliance, a pirate-like group whose mission it is to destroy whaling vessels using extreme tactics including fouling propellers and sinking ships.Though he is ruthless it is hard not to find him likable as his passion and drive are contagious. Angela eventually joins Aeneas on The Arctic Tern.

Aeneas is being hunted by FBI agent Robert Porter. Robert has a history with Aeneas, having been an undercover agent posing as a crew member on one of his previous missions.  Robert is conflicted about catching Aeneas as he has a great deal of respect for him and deep down seems to believe in Aeneaes' mission.

The book is full of excitement and suspense and reads easily while adeptly addressing ethical issues of animal protection and animal rights. Many of the characters literally violently defend animal rights and their actions will leave you pondering how much is too much and how much is enough:

"Some people stop at the water's edge. Some keep going..."

The plot takes a lot of twists and turns and will keep your fingers gripping the pages in order to discover how the chase ends up.

I recommend The Tourist Trail without hesitation. I thoroughly enjoyed it and sincerely hope there are more books by John in the works! Check out the book's website here. And, if you want a free copy of the book all you need to do is make a donation to Our Hen House, an organization whose mission is to effectively mainstream the movement to end the exploitation of animals.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Breakfast: Greens, Grains and Miso Soup

Greens, grains and soup for breakfast?  You bet!

You may recall a couple of posts back I wrote about Christina Pirello's  Three Day Intensive Study macrobiotic cooking class.  During the course of the three days we leanred alot about eating for health and nutrition.  One of the biggest take aways for me was how important a meal breakfast is.  After all, you are indeed "breaking your fast" and as such you should concentrate on putting whole, simple nutritious foods into your system.

I have never really never liked breakfast (when I did eat it inevitably I either found myself hungry shortly after or experienced somewhat debilatating blood sugar drops).    And now, I know why- I was simply eating the wrong foods. Toast, bagels, and other refined foods are just not the way to start the day.

I was skeptical-- could I really get into this breakfast thing after more or less forty five years of either fighting with my Mom because I didn't want to eat it or not eating it at all?  Early indications are the answer may actually be yes. 

After listening to Robert Pirello discuss breakfast and its benefits when you put the "right" foods into your body upon breaking the fast I promised him I would give it a try.  True to my word I have done just that and early indications are that I actually may become a breakfast person!

So, if you have never thougt about putting things like vegetables such as greens, carrots, mushrooms, daikon radish and wakame into your breakfast regime I encourage you to rethink that immediately.  What I have found is that a breakfast consisting of quinoa, amaranth, rice, wheatberries or other grains paired with some greens and Miso soup (great for digestion) will keep me  full and engergetic well past when I would normally have started feeling hungry for lunch.

Quiona  and Corn with Greens

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 handful fresh or frozen corn
1 collard Green
1 kale leaf
1 baby bok choy
Sea salt to taste

Place the quinoa into a sauce pan and cover with the 2 cups water. Toss in the corn.  Bring to a boil and then turn to a simmer and allow to cook until water is absorbed.  Season with sea salt to taste.

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Once rapidly boiling sumberge greens until bright green and remove. Allow to cool enough to touch and chop into bite size pieces.

Miso Soup

1 carrot cut into coins (don't throw away the greens if they are attached)
7 slices of daikon radish sliced thin
2 dried shitake mushrooms soaked and sliced (reserve soaking water
1 Collard green
1 Kale leaf
1 leek cleaned and cut thinly
Carrot greens chopped
1 pinch of wakame (dried seaweed)
Red miso paste

In a sauce pan place the wakame and the vegetables.Season with sea salt. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reducce heat and simmer covered until the carrot and radish are tender.  For each cup of soup add 2 tsp of miso.  Be sure to disolve the miso in some soup liquid and then add to the pot. Do not allow the Miso to boil.  Chop and add the reserved carrot greens if they came attached to the carrots.
Note: If you would like to make ahead enough for a few days only add miso to the soup you are drinking immediately and each morning heat the soup you are going to have and disolve and add the miso before eating.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Like most of us I get tons and tons of email. Much of it is spam, or unwanted emails from companies I have bought from in the past.  I also get lots of email with a vegan theme. Sometimes I wonder where all these companies get my email address.  Much of what I get I just skim through and delete but every once in a while some ting catches my eye. 

The email I got in May from the VegNews Rrecipe Club titled Vegan Avocado Pesto was one of those that caught my eye.  How could it not?  Such a beautiful photo of a simple, green rich looking dish.  It looked delicious!

I have made this a couple of times and it is has been a winner with the omnivores I have served it to, including Mr. Meat and Potatoes. It is a great meal to throw together after a busy day at work (like I did tonight) or to impress your guests at a dinner party.

If you don't have avocados in the house RUN to the store now! This is a must make!

Avocado Pesto Pasta

2 ripe avocados, seeded and flesh removed
1 lb. of your favorite pasta cooked according to package directions
3 cloves garlic
Fresh basil leaves, about 2 1/2 ounces
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor combine all ingredients except the pasta. Blend until smooth.  Pour over warm pasta, toss and serve.

Avocado on FoodistaAvocado

Monday, June 6, 2011


For those of you who read my posts or tweets yesterday you know that I spent the weekend in Philadelphia  with JL Goes Vegan   studying the benefits of a whole food, simple macrobiotic diet with Christina Pirello.  When I got home, understandably I was excited to share my experience with my family, particularly my children.
My Asteroids

Tonight, my husband and daughter were out and my son and I decided we would cook something.  After looking at the pictures from yesterdays blog post he zeroed right in on the Asteroids.  Well, why wouldn't he? They are chocolatey, resemble a rice krispie treat and are out of this world delicious!  I agreed and we set to work in the kitchen (and I say work tongue in cheek- these are ridiculously simple to make).

Christina's Asteroids

The only variation from the ones we made in class is that we rolled some of them in unsweetened organic coconut to finish them.  Once my son tasted them he looked at me and said "Mom you are a magician with food."  Awww... isn't that what every Mom wants to hear from her kids? Now, to get them excited about greens and grains.  I suppose that is for a future post!


1 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup nut butter (I used almond butter)
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips, preferably sweetened with malt
3 cups crispy brown rice cereal
1/3 cup organic unsweetened coconut flakes

In a sauce pan over low heat mix the brown rice syrup and nut butter. Stir constantly until melted and smooth.  Put in the chocolate chips and stir until melted.  Turn off the heat and stir in the crispy brown rice cereal. Be gentle as not to crush the rice cereal.

As the mixture is cooling fill a large bowl with cold water.  Dip hands in water and roll a tablespoon worth of a the mixture into a round ball. Place on parchment paper and allow to cool.  If desired, roll in unsweetened coconut flakes, nuts or any other garnish you are creative enough to come up with.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Christina Cooks Three Day Intensive Study

Wow! Where to begin......... this is my first post that is not centered around a recipe but the experience of the last couple of days is just too good not to share.

I spent the weekend in Philadelphia with JL Goes Vegan. We had previously only known each other through Twitter and Facebook and I am so thrilled we got to meet in person and hang out this weekend. It was like meeting a kindred spirit!

Me, Christina Pirello and JL
Photo by JL Fields

If you are interested in clean eating, whole foods, nutrition and wellness and are not familiar with Christina Pirello of Christina Cooks I would suggest you check out her website ASAP! I am very lucky to live in Philadelphia where I have easy access to Christina and her wide variety of cooking classes and demonstrations!
Our weekend consisted of three days focused on topics ranging from Chinese Medicine theory and philosophy, the energy of food, macrobiotics, nutrition, knife skills and menu planning. Yes, a lot to cover in three days but the combination of lecture, demonstration and hands on experience creates a terrific learning environment and certainly makes the three days fly by!

Menu planning
Photo by JL Fields

As a bonus I got to meet a fellow food blogger, Bistro Katie. I am excited to have another food blogger to keep in touch with!

JL and Katie
Photo by JL Fields

Over the comint weeks I am looking forward to sharing my own recipe creations based on what I learned so stay tuned! In the mean time, here are some photos to give you an idea of the sort of things you can expect to see in the future.

Tofu, green beans and squash

Cauliflower in puttanesca sauce

One HUGE lunch

Amaranth and corn with dulse flakes

Brown rice salad


Carrot and ginger soup
Photo by JL Fields

Chocolate chunk cookies


I am really looking forward to incorporating and sharing new techniques and ingredients in upcoming recipes!