Ja cię kocham…

….simple, healthy, and with lots of love.

Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’

Pumpkin Hummus with Semi-Homemade Pita Chips

May 11, 2010 By: kristi Category: Appetizer, Bread, Side Dish, Snack, Spicy, Vegetarian

My mom, sister, and I not only share DNA but a deep love for this dip.   My sister had a few wedding dress fittings and each time we were finished at the bridal boutique we went to the same restaurant for tea.  Each time we stared at our options on the menu, looked at each other and smiled as one of us inevitably said, “Do you want to split the pumpkin hummus platter?”.

OF COURSE WE DO!  It’s to die for!

This platter came with olives, pitas, and crudite.  Oh so good.  So we decided to make our own.  I decided not to use tahini (ground sesame seeds) in this hummus, and I’m happy to share that the flavor wasn’t negatively affected.   The consistency is different than that of a typical store-bought hummus.   This recipe is a little chunkier, but it definitely feels lighter and fresher.

I had to laugh because I come walking into my parents’ house with groceries and am so excited to get started on dinner when I realize that I brought absolutely nothing to dip into the pumpkin hummus.  Oops.

If it’s not a cake that I forget, it’s chips for the dip!  Geez!

Lucky for me my mom is a genius!  She whipped out some whole wheat wraps, did a little mommy magic and gave me some awesome pita chips for the hummus.   The pita chips were so stinkin’ easy that I made them last night for dinner.  I had three leftover wheat wraps in the fridge that were in there just long enough that I couldn’t fold them without them tearing.  I never thought of making chips out of them.  It seriously took less than 10 minutes from start to finish.  Gotta love that!

This whole hummus and pita recipe takes less than 10 minutes.   Just a little zip, zip of the food processor while your oven bakes and you have a fabulous appetizer.

Pumpkin Hummus withe Semi-Homemade Pita Chips

Source for Hummus: Libby’s Pumpkin Website
Source for Pita Chips: The Mommy

Serves 8

For Pita Chips:


4 whole wheat wraps
cooking spray or 1 Tbs. olive oil
salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.

With a pizza cutter or knife, cut wraps into 8 equal triangles and place on baking sheets.  Spray wrap triangles lightly with cooking spray or gently brush with olive oil.  Flip and gently coat other side of wrap with cooking spray or oil.  Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Bake for 5 minutes or until bottoms are lightly brown.  Flip them.  Bake for an additional 3-4 minutes making sure to watch them carefully because they can burn very quickly.  Take them out and let cool.

For the Pumpkin Hummus:


1 can (15.5 oz.) chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
sprinkle of paprika (optional)


Place chickpeas, pumpkin, lemon juice, water, garlic, salt and pepper into food processor; cover. Blend for 1 minute or until smooth.  Additional water, a teaspoon at a time, can be added if a smoother consistency is desired. Stir in parsley. Top with paprika.  Serve immediately or refrigerate in tightly covered container for up to 4 days. Makes about 2 cups.

Happy 1st Birthday, Ja cie Kocham!

February 01, 2010 By: kristi Category: Appetizer, Beverage, Breakfast, Cookies, Dessert, Food for Thought, Fruit, Main Dish, Pasta, Sandwich, Side Dish, Spicy, Vegetables, Vegetarian

It’s a party up in here!  This time last year, I posted for the very first time and had no idea what was going to come of this blog.  Little did I know that I would have so many foodie friends (HUNDREDS of you!) and so much support!  Thank you!

And in celebration of Ja cie kocham’s birthday, I’m making chocolate covered pretzels – a boatload of them.   They are festive, easy to make, and I’m probably going to eat them all within a few days.

I’m also going to use this time to recap on some of my favorite recipes of the year:


Peanut Butter and Banana French Toast – Heaven on a plate.  ‘Nuff said.



Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms – What a crowd pleaser!  Make sure to double the recipe because these will be gone in minutes!



Pear and Blue Cheese Pizza – Wish I would have thought of this one sooner!  Seriously melted in my mouth.  I could have eaten the whole pizza by myself.



Grilled Vegetable, Herb, and Goat Cheese Sandwich – Perfect for a picnic and requires no refrigeration!


Chicken Dish:

North African Grilled Chicken Paillards – Add ethnic flare to your chicken with a few pantry staples!


Lime Chile Steaks with Pico de Gallo and Homemade Guacamole – Home run dish.  Bursting with flavor and super healthy to boot!



Lemon Chickpea Stir-fry – AMAZING.  Nothing is more gratifying than making a very healthy meal that is so full of flavor.  I had several people ask for the recipe because they loved it so much.



Linguine with Bacon, Baby Spinach, and Sage – I found this recipe on the back of the pasta box.  Always check the back of boxes for recipes.  They tend to be real winners!


Side Dish:

Grilled Pineapple with Agave Nectar (or Honey) and Coconut – Elegant, healthy, delicious!



The best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER.  They were huge, fat, chewy, and absolutely sinful!

Thank you for spending time with me in my little corner of cyberworld this year.  Here’s to many more years together!

Holiday Leftovers: Warm Wild Mushroom Salad

December 28, 2009 By: kristi Category: Appetizer, Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Warmed Mushroom Salad

For Christmas my parents got me this awesome cookbook – Simply Salads by Jennifer Chandler.  Now my Ma knows that I LOVE when my cookbooks have pictures to go with each recipe.  Lucky for me, these cookbooks tend to be less expensive than the ones without pictures.  Not sure why, but it works for me!

Perusing this book, I had no idea that it would be an inspiration for using up MORE of my leftover ham.  The recipe calls for pancetta, which is a dry cured meat that reminds me of bacon.  Instead of buying pancetta, I just used my Christmas ham.  Ham doesn’t create the same drippings in the skillet as bacon when you cook it, but a little olive oil solves that problem.  You still get the flavor, you just need a little assistance from the oil.

We had this salad right after church.  It hit the spot!  We wanted something light, but we wanted something that felt like a meal.  We served this salad with my homemade Ham and Cheddar Biscuits.  Home run, I tell you!  Never thought to warm wild mushrooms and place them on a salad.  Good call, Jennifer!

Warm Wild Mushroom Salad

Serves 4 for a meal or 6 for an appetizer

Source: Simply Salads by Jennifer Chandler, pg. 128 (& pg. 106 for salad dressing)



1/4 cup Sherry Vinaigrette – *recipe follows
1/4 pound pancetta, bacon, or ham ** if using ham, add 1-2 Tbs. olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1/2 lb. assorted wild mushrooms (I used oyster, porcini, and shiitake), ends trimmed
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 bag (8oz) Field Greens

Sherry Vinaigrette:

(I doubled this recipe for my salads)

1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbs. sherry wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
6 Tbs. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare the Sherry Vinaigrette - In a small bowl whisk together shallot, mustard, and vinegar.  Slowly add the olive oil in a stream, whisking to emulsify.  Season with salt and pepper.  (Makes about 1/4 cup)

In a medium skillet, over medium-low heat, cook the ham (with olive oil) or pancetta/bacon without oil.  Cook until outside is crisp, about 4 minutes.  Transfer ham to paper-towel lined plate to drain, reserving the drippings in the pan.

Increase the heat to medium.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring often, until tender, 3-5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.

Add the ham and pine nuts to the mushroom mixture and toss.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large salad bowl, toss the Field Greens with the vinaigrette to taste.  Divide the salad among individual plates. Top with mushrooms.  Serve immediately!  (Otherwise the greens will get droopy!)

Coconut Cardamom Sweet Potatoes

November 06, 2009 By: kristi Category: Side Dish, Spicy, Vegetables, Vegetarian


This picture that is way better than mine is courtesy of the New York Times Fitness and Nutrition section.

Ready to see mine?  Hahaha.  It makes me laugh.

sweet potatoes

AHHHHH!  The time change has made the evenings dark SOOO early that I can’t get a good picture in when it’s light out!  Dang you, Ben Franklin!!

Anyway, this side dish is a part of the pre-Thanksgiving meal that I have been talking about for 3 consecutive posts now.  OH MY LORD was this meal good.  Now I am a HUGE mashed potato-lover, but these were also really good.  It’s nice to change things up.  The coconut and cayenne definitely stood out.  Mmmmm!!

Coconut Cardamom Sweet Potatoes

Source: Clean Eating Magazine Nov/Dec 2009

Serves a huge crowd!


5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3/4 cup light coconut milk
2 tsp. cardamom, ground
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/3 cup unsalted pecan halves, chopped (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add sweet potatoes, return to a boil and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Drain.

In a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), add potatoes and remaining ingredients (except pecans).  Mix on medium speed until smooth.  Transfer to a 9×9 baking dish.  Sprinkle pecans on top.

Bake 45-50 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned.  Cool on rack for 10 minutes and serve

Hot Bean & Cheese Dip

September 28, 2009 By: kristi Category: Appetizer, Spreads/Dips, Vegetarian

bean dip

I love game days.  Saturday for the first time in…oh let’s see… 4 or 5 years, I put on my shin guards, picked up my old stick and stick bag and played some field hockey.  It felt so good to be a part of a team again, and I look forward to playing more and more.  (I just need to get back into shape before I REALLY enjoy it!)

I also love game days at home.  Jay had the picture-in-picture (PIP) on our television so we could watch two football games simultaneously.  Most of this multi-game interest can be attributed to a fantasy football league that someone is participating in addition to our Philadelphia Phillies who were ALSO playing at the same time.  Busy day!  A busy day of sports calls for game day snacks!

One of the snacks that I prepared for my darling sports-junkie husband was this hot and cheesy bean dip.  In 10 minutes I had it on the table with tortilla scoops.  The dip was so amazingly good that I wish that I had made more because between Jay, my sister, and myself, the bowl was completely polished clean!

Next time you have friends over to watch a game, whip up this dip.  It will be a crowd favorite, guaranteed.

Hot & Cheesy Bean Dip

Source: Annie’s Eats

Serves: 6 (or three piggies like the ones in my household!)

1 Tbs. olive oil
½ onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 (14.5 oz) can refried beans
2 Tbs. sour cream
¼ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, in ½-inch cubes
1/3 cup pepper jack cheese, in ½-inch cubes

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and jalapeno, and sauté until tender, about 3-5 minutes.

Stir in the refried beans and cook until smooth, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook until the cheese is melted.  Transfer to a bowl and serve hot.

Coconut and White Nectarine Muesli

August 16, 2009 By: kristi Category: Breakfast, Fruit, Vegetarian


Most mornings during the week I wake up so early that I don’t want to have breakfast.  Sounds bad, I know, but the reason is because if I eat at 5-5:30am, I’ll be ready for a full-blown lunch by 9am.  I try to hold off breakfast until 7… at least by then it’s a suitable breakfast time that allows me to have a noonish lunch.  Mind you my breakfast is a last minute thought every morning as I’m heading out the door.  “Oh crap, I need breakfast!”  Breakfast bars are my typical breakfast during the week.  As much as I love the convenience, it gets old.  I want something more substantial to start my day.

Then I met Muesli.

This recipe is wonderful because you mix all of the ingredients with the exception of the fruit in a bowl and let it sit overnight in your fridge.  When you wake up, you have a superbly healthy breakfast.

You can also make this an oatmeal.  By cooking the oats and milk for a minute, then throwing in the rest of the ingredients once the oats are  cooked, you can have a quick, gourmet-looking, hearty breakfast.  Your choice.  Muesli or Oatmeal.  I’ve done both and they are both good.


Pick your favorite milk – soy, skim, almond, rice (or just water)…
Pick your favorite nuts and dried fruits – almonds, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, craisins, golden raisins…
Pick your favorite fresh fruit – nectarines, peaches, cherries, apples, pears…
Mix in some coconut flakes and brown sugar (optional)

And you will have a delicious breakfast!

Coconut and White Nectarine Muesli


Adapted from Daily Unadventures in Cooking

Serves 2-3

1 cup oats
1 cup soy milk or milk of your choosing
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons golden raisins and dried cranberries
2 tablespoons almonds
1 tablespoon flax (optional)
1 fresh nectarine
2 cherries for garnish


Combine all of above up except nectarines and stir. Cover and put in the fridge overnight. In the morning chop up your fruit and serve on top.
**This will not be super sweet.  If you prefer it to be sweeter add some brown sugar on top.**

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Red Pesto

August 15, 2009 By: kristi Category: Sauce, Spicy, Spreads/Dips, Vegan, Vegetarian

red pesto

I love pesto.  Basically anything with basil in it gets a thumbs up from me.  What I never thought about was how versatile pesto is.  Basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, cheese… that was pesto to me.  Oh how I was wrong!   You can change up the pine nuts with walnuts or almonds… change the basil to thyme… throw in red pepper flakes… or even sun-dried tomatoes!

more pesto

A little bit of this particular pesto goes a long way.  I think I actually made too much.  Because I have so much left over, I’m putting on my chicken, crackers with cheese, on my sandwiches, as a dip for my raw vegetables, and anything else that I can think of.

red pesto pasta

I’ve cut the recipe in half.  The changes are reflected in the recipe below.

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Red Pesto

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Serves 4


12 plump, chewy sun-dried tomatoes (about 2 ounces)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
a couple big pinches of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
handful of fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted
zest of half a lemon


Pulse all ingredients in your food processor until it reaches a crumbled texture.  If you are using the pesto with pasta, add 1/2 cup of the pasta water with 2/3 of the pesto sauce and then add the rest of the pesto to the mixture.  If not, use a small amount of hot water to thin it out.  I suggest gradually adding the water so you can get the consistency that you prefer.

Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza

August 08, 2009 By: kristi Category: Main Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

zucchini pizza

If someone told me that I was only allowed to eat one type of cheese for the rest of my life, as painstakingly awful as this would be, I would definitely choose goat cheese.  When I go out to dinner, if I see something with goat cheese on it – a burger, a salad, a veggie sandwich – I order it.  No questions asked.  Goat cheese is the bomb.

See my Grilled Vegetable, Herb and Goat Cheese Sandwich or my Roasted Rainbow Pepper Sub for other fun things to do with goat cheese.

What I didn’t realize about goat cheese is its low calorie and fat content in comparison to other cheeses – 70 calories per ounce as opposed to 100+ calories per ounce.  Gotta like that!  Another thing that I didn’t realize about goat cheese is that you can put it on PIZZA.  So yummy.  FYI – if you aren’t a goat cheese fan, by all means use YOUR favorite cheese on this pizza.  It doesn’t have to be spreadable; it just needs to be delicious to eat.

If you are going to use goat cheese the only recommendation that I have for this pizza is to spread A LOT of it on the dough.  I don’t think that I had enough because the cheese cracked a lot in some places by the time it was done baking.  It still tasted good, but it could have looked better.  That’s just me.

At first, you may be put off by using a large quantity of goat cheese because of its expense.  If you’re fortunate enough to have a local Trader Joe’s (I know… I’m giving them yet another shout out), you can buy 11 ounces of goat cheese for a few bucks.  In a typical grocery store 4 ounces costs $7!!  I can get almost three times that at Trader Joe’s.   This is also where I get my pizza dough.  For $0.99 I get a big ball of dough!!  Although, I recently discovered a recipe on Oven Love (a food blog of one of my sister’s best friends…) for a quick and easy pizza dough that doesn’t take hours.  I’ll have to try it one of these days!

Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza

Source: Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4


1 batch  store-bought pizza dough that will yield one small (approx. 11 to 12 inches across), thin pizza
1 lemon
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
Few leaves of fresh basil, cut into thin slivers
1/2 medium yellow zucchini, sliced as thinly as you can pull off with a knife or your mandoline
1/2 medium green zucchini, sliced as the same as above
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Roll your pizza dough into a thin 12-inch circle and lay it on a tray or stone that has been dusted lightly with cornmeal.

In a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese with the juice of half your lemon. Season it with salt and freshly ground pepper, and spread it over your pizza dough. Scatter fresh basil slivers over the cheese.

Arrange your zucchini coins in concentric circles over the goat cheese spread, overlapping them slightly.  Squeeze the juice of the second half of your lemon on top of you zucchini, then drizzle with olive oil and finish with more salt and freshly ground black pepper.

zucchini slices

precooked pizza

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes (your baking time will vary, so please watch carefully), or until the edges of your pizza are golden brown and the zucchini looks roasted and a little curled up at the edges.

pizza slice

Stuffed Eggplant Wraps – Buy Fresh, Buy Local and what I did!

July 22, 2009 By: kristi Category: Food for Thought, Main Dish, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

eggplant wraps

eggplant #3

I bought all of this at a local Amish produce stand on my way home from work for $6!

For the next 21 days, I am participating in the Buy Fresh, Buy Local 21-day challenge.  Basically you just alter your lifestyle for 21 days to support local business.  The change can be as minimal or as large as you want it to be.  Buying local is good for the environment because excess fuel isn’t wasted on transporting foods from one country to another, it’s good for YOU because the ingredients are much fresher than they would be in a grocery store (do you really know how old that watermelon is in the grocery store?????), and it’s good for local business because they are getting your business!

I’m lucky because I live in an area surrounded by the Amish who are known for their local produce stands with fresh breads, homemade butters and jellies, and homegrown fruits and vegetables.  I pass a stand everyday to and from work, so it’s really easy for me to make the effort to buy fresh and local.

Needless to say, I purchased zucchini from the “bargain bin”.  It was $1.25 for 3 enormous zucchini because they were picked yesterday rather than today.  As if that really matters to me!   I also picked up some purple and white eggplants and a few tomatoes.  And yes, they were all organic.  I know, I know.  It was a sweet deal!

Then to make matters more convenient for me, Cindy, my husband’s mommy dearest, sent us home a huge bag filled with fresh herbs from her garden.  I was set!  Dinner is served!

I made baked eggplant wraps with zucchini, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.   In the past, I have used roasted red peppers instead of tomatoes.   Mushrooms would also be good in this.  Whatever works for you!

Stuffed Eggplants

Serves 4 as side dish


2 Tbs. olive oil
2 small eggplants, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tomato, thinly sliced
handful of fresh basil
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (I used shredded this time, but I normally buy the ball of mozzarella and slice it.)
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a large baking sheet, sprinkle olive oil.  Place eggplant and zucchini slice on sheet.  Bake for 5-7 minutes or until slightly tender.  Allow to cool.

Place eggplant back on oiled baking sheet.  Place a zucchini slice on top of each eggplant, followed by a slice of tomato, some mozzarella, and a few basil leaves.  Salt and pepper to taste.

eggplant wraps #2

Tightly roll eggplant, placing a toothpick in them to secure.  Have patience with them as they may be challenging to roll.  Place seams face down on baking sheet.  Bake until cheese is melted (about 3-4 minutes).

Fresh Herb Salad

July 16, 2009 By: kristi Category: Salad, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Herbed Salad

I tend to go to restaurants, order a beautiful salad, and try to replicate it at home.  Typically, I fail.  For me, I feel as if everyone BUT me makes delicious salads.  For instance, my mom always makes these gorgeous rustic salads with dried blueberries, fresh asparagus, and more!   She sprinkles it with Parmesan cheese and a homemade lemon vinaigrette.  Yum!  My other mother (Jay’s momma) puts out a fantastic display of freshly cut vegetables like avocado, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli sprouts and makes a salad bar.

How can I possibly compare??

Wellllll…. I’ve been practicing.  Yeah, I know… it sounds really silly to practice making salads, but when I mean “practice” I really mean testing out different combinations of lettuces, bean sprouts, dried fruits, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh herbs.

Let me tell you something.  Adding TONS of fresh herbs to your salads is the most incredible thing you can ever do.  I’m serious.  It’s THAT good.  For those of you out there that have already done this, you know what I’m talking about.  It adds a depth and a freshness to your salad that cannot be matched.

So this is one of my no-brainer recipes.  But it’s too good to not share with those that haven’t tried it before.

Fresh Herb Salad

Serves: 6-8 as a side dish


16 oz. organic spring mix
3 oz. shitake, crimini, and oyster mushrooms (I got a package of them at Trader Joes, but any mushroom works)
a bunch of cherry or baby heirloom tomatoes, sliced
handful of chopped scallions
handful of fresh dill, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
handful of fresh basil, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
salt and pepper to taste
favorite salad dressing (I used a red wine vinaigrette)


Toss all ingredients (except for some of the chopped herbs) into a large salad bowl.  Top with leftover herbs.

Oh, and look at my homegrown cherry tomatoes (well, tomato)!  I planted yellow cherry tomatoes, but I guess they decided to be orange.  They are so fresh and sweet.  It’s like eating a piece of candy.