Monthly Archives: February 2011

27 Feb 2011 Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from Sweet potato shepherd’s pie. Downloaded from the web on Feb. 19, 2011.

My Comment: The Meatless Monday website was a new find for me — and it is proving to be invaluable! Even though we, or at least I, am committed to a vegetarian diet, the idea of making one night a week “meatless” is appealing on many levels.

Shepherd’s Pie is one of Adrien’s childhood favorites — I won’t tell you what rude name WE gave it in my high school — so I humor him from time to time with some variation on it. With 3 grams of fat and 7 grams of fiber, this is a more healthy alternative that even I enjoyed.

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.


1 pound sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
6 small red potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sliced onion
1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cups water
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
5 tablespoons flour
2 portobello mushroom caps, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoon dried sage
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring two saucepans of water to a boil. Add red potatoes to one and sweet potatoes to the other. Cook until tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Mash the sweet potatoes with butter, adjusting flavor with salt and pepper. Set mashed sweet potatoes aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add onion slices and shiitake mushrooms, cover, and let the mushrooms sweat for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the water, wine and tamari, and bring to a boil. Whisk in flour, stirring until there are no lumps. Allow to simmer.

3. Add portobello pieces, and saute briefly until mushrooms are browned on the outside. Add the carrots, celery and potatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with thyme and sage. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch glass pie dish. Cover with mashed sweet potatoes.

4. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until potatoes are golden brown.

Servings = 8. Weight Watcher Points = 6.

26 Feb 2011 Mexican Bean and Tortilla Pie

Adapted from Weight Watchers. Mexican bean and tortilla pie. (subscription only). Downloaded from the web on Feb. 19, 2011.

My comment: The servicing size – 1/6 of a 6 inch tortilla is really small! Better have some veggies or a salad on the side.  However, it was a tasty and quick dish — be sure to thoroughly heat it which may mean keeping in the oven for longer than 30 minutes.


Mexican Tortilla Pie

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.

1 cup canned (jarred) tomato sauce
3/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
5 medium corn tortillas (6-inch size)
30 oz. canned black beans, drained, rinsed and mashed
8 oz. chopped green chilies (canned okay)
1/2 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese


1.  Preheat oven to 400F. Combine tomato sauce, salsa, cilantro, chili powder and cumin in a small bowl.

2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add as many tortillas as will fit in one layer. Cook for about 1 minute, turning once, until lightly toasted. Remove and set aside. Repeat until all 5 tortillas have been toasted.

3. Spoon 1/4 of the tomato sauce mixture over the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate or shallow baking dish. Top with a tortilla. Spread with 1/2 cup of the mashed beans, top with 2 TBSP of chilies followed by 1 TBSP of grated cheese. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, ending with the remaining tortilla, sauce, and cheese.

4. Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes more until the cheese is bubbly and the dish is thoroughly heated.  Cut into 6 wedges and serve.

Yield: 6 servings. Weight Watcher points = 5.

21 Feb 2011 White Bean and Collard Green Soup

Adapted from Katzen, M. New enchanted broccoli forest. (2000). Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. page 21.

White Bean & Collards Soup

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.

My Comment: In Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest, this soup is called White Bean and Escarole Soup — on Mollie’s website, she has renamed it. In my version, I used neither white beans or escarole 🙂  In fact, this is what makes this such a great soup recipe — follow the building blocks — start with the Trinity (onion, celery, carrots) and throw in whatever you have on hand.


1 to 2 TBSP olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 bay leaf
2 stalks celery, minced
2 tsp salt
6 cups stock or water (I used water)
3 – 4 cups cooked white beans (or use 2 cans of beans, rinsed and drained) – I used Kidney beans here
3 TBSP fresh garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs. collard greens – stemmed and chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg or Freshly minced parsley or Parmesan cheese


1. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, bay leaf, celery, carrots and salt. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, then add the stock or water. Cover, bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Cook quietly for about 20 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

2. Add the beans, garlic and as much of the collard greens as you can fit. Cover and wait a few minutes for the greens to cook down. Keep adding greens in batches waiting between additions for them to cook down.

3. Add black pepper to taste, adjust salt. Serve hot, topped with a grating or two of fresh nutmeg, a little parsley, and a generous spoonful of Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 to 6. Weight Watcher points = 5 points

19 Feb 2011 Lentils, Brown Rice and Carmelized Onions

Adapted from Whole Foods Market. Lentils, brown rice and carmelized onions. Downloaded from the web on Feb. 5, 2011.

My Comment: Frances Moore Lappe always reminded readers that in order to complete a protein, one needed to include a food like rice with beans or lentils. This is, then, a complete protein meal. I had some oranges sliced up to put on the side, but Adrien thought they made an interesting addition right in the lentil mix.


Brown Rice, lentils and camelized onion

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.

1 cup long grain brown rice
1 cup dried brown lentils
3 medium onions (or 1 1/2 pounds), sliced thinly
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


1. Bring rice and 2 cups water to a boil in medium pot. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer until liquid is completely absorbed and rice is just tender (about 40 minutes).

2. Meanwhile in a separate pot, bring lentils and 5 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover partially and simmer until lentils are tender, but not falling apart (about 30 minutes). Drain, rinse in cold water, and drain again.

3. While lentils and rice cook, bring 1/2 cup of water to a simmer in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until beginning to soften, stirring occasionally – about 8 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water (I used some white wine here), cumin, cinnamon and salt and reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook about 15 minutes or until onions are soft and browned, stirring frequently and adding another 1/4 cup water (or liquid of choice) halfway through cooking or if onions stick to the skillet.

4. Remove 1 cup of the cooked onions and set aside. Stir lentils, rice and pepper into skillet along with the remaining onions.

To serve, top with reserved onions and garnish with parsley.

Serves 4. Weight Watcher points = 4 points.

17 Feb 2011 Tomato Bulgur Soup with Warm Spices

Adapted from Whole Foods Market. Tomato bulgur soup with warm spices. Downloaded from the web on February 5, 2011.

My Comment: The addition of cinnamon to this tomato based soup make it quite interesting. Whole Foods suggests that, if reheating leftovers, you will most likely need to add additional liquid — the bulgur soaks it up like a sponge!

Tomato Bulgur Soup

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.


4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (divided)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup uncooked bulgur wheat
1 14-oz. can no-salt added diced tomatoes
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
1 TBSP feta cheese crumbles – optional


1. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring 1/2 cup broth to a simmer. Add onion and garlic and cook about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent and tender.

2. Stir in coriander and cinnamon – cook 1 minute. Add bulgur and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

3. Add remaining 3 and 1/2 cups of broth, tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until bulgur is tender.

4. Stir in lemon juice. Garnish with parsley and feta cheese (optional).

Serves 4. Weight Watcher Points = 4 points.

15 Feb 2011 Warm Winter Greens Salad

Adapted from Whole Foods Market. Warm winter greens salad. Downloaded from the web on February 5, 2011.

My Comment: A piece of advice – don’t heat those greens too much and if you use radicchio, give that a head start in the pan. The first time around with the recipe, I tried to follow the ingredient suggestions; now I would be a little more flexible – nearly any salad type green will work or use a mixture – Olivia’s has a spinach mix that includes escarole and radicchio. Another word of advice – use a fresh lemon. The green bottle just doesn’t compare.


Warm Winter Green Salad

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.

2 TBSP canola oil
1 bunch curly endive or escarole (3/4 lb), roughly chopped
1 head radicchio (3/4 lb.), core removed and roughly chopped
2 TBSP capers, drained
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 TBSP dried currents (I used raisins)
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
3 TBSP toasted pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans
1 TBSP orange zest


1. Heat oil in a large pot or wok (recommended) over medium high heat. Add greens and radicchio and cook, stirring constantly until just wilted – about 5 minutes.

2. Add capers, olives, pepper flakes and currents. Cook tossing gently for another 15 seconds.

3. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle pine nuts (or other toasted nuts/seeds) and orange zest on top.

Serves 4-6. Weight watcher points = 4.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Adapted from:

Vegetarian Times. Cheese-stuffed love apples. (February 1, 2005). p 77. Downloaded from the web on 2/11/2011.
Vegetarian Times. Roasted red pepper and tomato soup. (February 1, 2007). p 41. Downloaded from the web on 2/11/2011.
Vegetarian Times. Spinach-mushroom strata. (February 1, 2007). p 42. Downloaded from the web on 2/11/2011.

My Comment: Ignore the points at least this one day! This was our 3-course stay-at-home Valentine’s Day extravaganza. We finished with a glass of Port and dark chocolate truffle.  Heaven!

Appetizer: Cheese Stuff Love Apples

Valentine's Day Appetizer

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.

My comment: We serve this appetizer with a plonkish (at least price wise) sparkling wine from Barefoot ($9.99). Not bad at all.


1/2 cup non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 lb. fresh goat cheese
2 TBSP plain non-fat yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh chopped herbs (parsley, tarragon, dill and chives were suggested)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 cherry tomatoes
10 small dill springs for garnish


1. Put cottage cheese and goat cheese in food processor and puree until smooth. Add yogurt and process 1 to 2 minutes more until very smooth. Scrape into bowl and stir in herbs, salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Cut off thin slice from top of each cherry tomato. Scoop out seed and flesh from centers. Lightly salt insides of tomatoes and invert on rack set in sink. Drain 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Spoon herb cheese into each tomato, garnish with dill and serve. Can refrigerate if making ahead.

Serves 2. Weight Watcher Points = 6 for 5 tomatoes.

First Course: Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup


Valentine's Day Soup

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.

My Comment: I actually thought this soup could stand alone; the blending of roasted red peppers and fire-roasted tomatoes was really tasty.  The serving size is very accurate, so if you do choose to serve as a main course, double everything up.



1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 minced clove of garlic
12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup canned, diced fire-roasted tomatoes (suggest Muir Glen)
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp vegan sour cream (I used non-fat greek yogurt)


1. Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Add onion, saute 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.

2. Stir in peppers, tomatoes, sugar and 1 cup of water. Simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in vinegar. Transfer mixture to blender (I used my hand immersion blender), and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Whisk sour cream with 1 tsp of water until smooth. Transfer to small plastic bag. Close bag, snip small hole in one corner. Ladle soup in bowls. Squeeze sour cream mixture into heart shape in soup and serve.

Serves 2. Weight Watcher Points = 3.

The Main Event: Spinach-Mushroom Strata

My comments: Of the three courses, this was not my favorite – at least for Valentine’s Day.  It seemed more appropriate for a light supper or brunch dish. A point-heavy dish, I probably will think of ways to retool it.


Valentine's Day Strata

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.

1 TBSP olive oil plus more for “brushing” (I use a spray here)
8 oz. sliced mushrooms (about 3 cups)
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp chopped thyme
2 TBSP sherry
5 oz. fresh spinach
2 1/2 ups cubed French bread, crusts removed
1 large egg
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 12 oz. souffle dishes or one 9-inch glass pie plate. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat and add mushrooms. Saute 5 minutes or until browned. Add garlic and thyme and cook 1 minute. Stir in sherry and cook another minute more or until liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.

2. Return pan to high heat. Add spinach and 1 TBSP water and cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper and place in a colander. Press out all liquid and chop. Toss spinach and bread with mushrooms.

3. Whisk broth and egg in a small bowl. Pour over bread mixture, add cheese, stirring until bread and absorbed all the liquid. Spoon into prepared baking dish(es) and press down lightly. Bake 40 minutes or until browned and bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes so strata will set, then serve.

Serves 2. Weight Watcher Points = 19. (Smaller portion alert! – I consumed half of a serving for 9.5 points. Just couldn’t blow more than 1 day’s points on one meal).

The Fab Five

My Comments: This week I’ve been down and out with yet another virus, one of the hazards of working in an elementary school. So what do we do when no one is in the mood — or otherwise able — to cook? We eat leftovers that we’ve frozen from past meals. At Adrien’s suggestion then, are the “Fab Five” – with apologies to the Beatles (you know, Paul McCartney BEFORE Wings and BEFORE that hideous Superbowl performance).  These are our favorites from January:

Senegalese Peanut Sweet Potato & Spinach Stew

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.



Senegalese Peanut Stew with Spinach and Sweet Potatoes

I had a lot of feedback on this recipe. It’s just as good as a leftover as it was on the first night.

No creamy peanut butter – use crunchy. Don’t use or like ginger, try something else.

Vadouvan spiced Red Lentil Soup

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.






Vadouvan Spiced Red Lentil Soup

When I originally found this recipe, I had no idea how hip it was to cook something with Vadouvan spicing.  In fact, I used Garam Masala curry in place of the Vadouvan – which I was unable to find pre-made. Duh.  Here’s a link to a couple of recipes for making the mixture yourself.

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.



Quinoa with Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms

When is a grain a protein? When it’s Quinoa — and it’s a complete protein. How cool is that?

The dressing, made with pear and balsamic vinegar provides a nice contrast to the nuttiness of the quinoa.


Kale Lasagna Diavolo
Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.



Kale Lasagna Diavolo

I love kale for two reasons – number one it’s inexpensive (currently $1.56 for a very large bunch) and number two it’s tasty… in all of the varieties I’ve seen around here. Even quicker, it’s available frozen, which makes this a quick fix meal on a weeknight.

While I favor Muir Glen tomato products, my mother also mentioned that Pomi makes a good diced tomato – available in a cardboard carton. Whatever your preference, this is an excellent twist on lasagna.


Hot from the oven

Copyright © 2011 by Adrien Bisson.



Home baked pizza

Sometimes you just need to have pizza – and this is definitely worth the wait. There’s not much effort to it, especially when mixing the dough in a stand mixer with a dough hook.

Are there fancier dough recipes? Sure. But this one can be on the table in 90 minutes to 2 hours…. mostly spent waiting for the dough. A glass of your favorite beverage makes the time fly.

09 Feb 2011 Butternut Squash with Wilted Spinach and Blue Cheese

Adapted from Whole Foods Market. Butternut Squash with Spinach. Downloaded from the web on February 5, 2011.

My Comment: Butternut Squash and blue cheese – delicious!

Squash with SpinachIngredients

1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 TBSP lemon juice
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 5-oz. package baby spinach
4 cups cubed and roasted butternut squash, warm


1. Use a fork to mash together blue cheese and lemon juice in a large bowl to make a thick smooth dressing. Season with salt and pepper, set aside.

2. Heat olive oil n a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown (about 5 minutes).

3. Add spinach and cook, tossing often until slightly wilted and warm (about 1 to 2 minutes).

4. Transfer the spinach mixture to the bowl with dressing. Add squash, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Serves 4. Weight Watcher Points = 5 points.

Feb 06 2011 Greens and Soft Polenta

Adapted from Moosewood Collective. Moosewood restaurant new classics. (2001). New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers. Page 262.

My Comments: Someday I hope to go to the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. This polenta recipe originally calls for corn meal — which is technically what polenta is — I prefer to use the real Italian food product, which is readily available everywhere.  The addition of fennel and Parmesan (fresh grated, not the green can!) make this especially tasty with broccoli rabe as the green. Feel like experimenting with greens? Go ahead and try others like kale, escarole, etc.

I love that this is just 2 points! Makes it something I would bring for lunch when I am typically conserving points.


1 bunch of broccoli rabe (or green of choice)

Polenta Ingredients

3 cups water
1 cup polenta cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground fennel seeds (or if you’re adventuresome, use red pepper flakes)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
ground black pepper to taste

For sauteing the greens

1 TBSP olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt


Polenta and Broccoli Rabe

Copyright © 2011. Adrien Bisson.

1. Cut off and discard the tough bottoms of the broccoli rabe stems. Coarsely chop the broccoli rabe, stems and all, to make about 6 cups. Rinse well and set aside to drain.

2. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot and slowly pout in the cornmeal while stirring briskly with a whisk. Break up any lumps that form. Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently until the polenta is thick and tastes done. Stir in the salt, fennel and cheese if you are using it. Add pepper to taste.

3. Meanwhile heat oil in a heavy pan. Add the garlic and salt and saute on medium heat just until the garlic is golden. Add the broccoli rabe, increasing the heat to medium high, and cook stirring frequently for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Set aside until the polenta finishes cooking.

4. Serve the polenta with broccoli rabe on top or stirred in.

Makes 4 servings as a main dish. Weight Watcher points = 2 (!).

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