Nacho Stuffed Tater Tots


This month’s Kosher Connection challenge is all about the Superbowl. What kinds of snacks do you like to eat while watching the big game? On Superbowl Sunday, we typically dine on a variety of appetizers. Last year, I vaguely recall a mix of onion rings, french fries, chicken wings and beer. I’m sure there was more to it though. This year, I’m all about finding good vegetarian snacks for the big game day.

I asked my husband what he was in the mood for this year. The first thing that he came up with was some loaded nachos. I told him that nachos were too basic and we had to do better than that!

I’ve been wanting to make some homemade tater tots for a while now. A while back, there was an article by Mark Bittman in The New York Times where he showed how to make some homemade tots. I’ve been wanting to make that recipe ever since it came out. I decided that I could stuff the tater tots with some of the typical nacho toppings.

Would it work? Would it taste good? I had to find out!

I parboiled some Idaho Russet Potatoes and then grated them along with some onions. I added some salt, pepper and corn starch to the mix, as Mark Bittman suggests.


I processed some black beans along with some fire roasted green chiles in the food processor. I mixed up that mixture with some cheese, corn and chili powder.

I placed some of the potato mixture in the palm of my hand and then a dab of the bean mixture at the center and formed it in to a traditional tater tot shape, making sure to cover the entire center with potato.


I fried each tot lightly and then drained it and finished cooking it in the oven. It’s best to finish the baking process on a rack over a baking sheet.


I dipped the tater tots in a salsa-yogurt mixture.

The verdict? Definitely a fun recipe!


Nacho Stuffed Tater Tots
  • 5 Idaho Russet Potatoes
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch
  • ¼ cup corn
  • ¼ cup black beans, cooked and drained or canned
  • ¼ cup fire roasted green chiles
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • oil for frying
  • additional salt and pepper as needed
  1. Preheat the oven to 400
  2. Parboil the potatoes until tender
  3. Grate the potatoes in a large mixing bowl
  4. Stir salt, pepper and corn starch in to the potatoes
  5. In the food processor, process together the black beans, chili powder, cheese and chiles. Stir in the corn. Transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  6. Take a tablespoon of the potato mixture and place in the palm of your hand. Dab a teaspoon of the bean/cheese mixture and place in the center of the potatoes. Shape the potatoes around the bean mixture and form in to a traditional tater tot mixture. Repeat until you have used up your potatoes.
  7. Heat up the oil, about a 1-inch deep, in a fry pan.
  8. Pan fry the tots until browned.
  9. Transfer the tots to a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack.
  10. Bake the tots until desired crispness.


White Bean and Kale Soup


My daughter came home from a friend’s house and excitedly told me all about the Olive Garden soup she had just eaten for dinner. I don’t think I’ve been to Olive Garden since I was about ten-years-old. I definitely didn’t remember any soup. The friend’s family knows that we don’t eat at Olive Garden and they understand that Gila is a vegetarian. After a moment of panic, I composed myself and asked her to tell me more. She happily told me about this amazing soup filled with spinach, potatoes and delicious broth. For days after, she asked me if I had made my version of the soup yet. I had just finished a marathon soup cooking session. My freezer was already bursting with various soups. I wasn’t ready to make another soup.

As they often do, circumstances change. In the middle of the work day, I quickly texted my husband and asked him what he thought I should prepare for dinner. With a groan, he told me all about his two root canals from earlier that morning and then fast forwarded to the part where he told me that all his jaw could handle was some warm soup. He told me not to worry. He assured me that he would just venture out to a local take-out place and buy something. I couldn’t let that happen. I decided that this was the night to make the soup of Gila’s dreams.

I had some kale in the fridge that needed to be used up.  I decided that it would be perfect in place of the spinach. I also had a ziploc bag of already cooked white beans in the freezer. I set off to make my version of this Olive Garden Soup. Amazingly, I was successful. Gila went to bed with a full and happy belly and Jason happily had three bowls of soup. This hearty soup is a winner and will definitely be made again!

White Bean and Kale Soup
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, cut up
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 3 small potatoes, peeled and sliced (I used purple, but you can use your preference)
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed and trimmed and chopped
  • 2 cans of white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • Additional salt and pepper as needed
  • Soup noodles (alphabet or any variety will do) optional
  1. Heat up the olive oil in a large soup pot
  2. Add in the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook a few minutes to soften.
  3. Stir in the salt and pepper
  4. Add in the kale and the potatoes and the kale and cook a couple of minutes
  5. Add white beans, tomatoes, broth and the water - along with the spices
  6. Bring the soup to a boil
  7. Turn the heat down and let simmer while covered for at least an hour.
  8. If you'd like some noodles in your soup, add them about 15 minutes before serving.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  10. Serve and enjoy!


Grain Free Collard Green Burritos


I’ve been trying to make some changes in regards to what I eat this summer. As more and more amazing fruits and vegetables are available and super fresh, I am trying to consume fewer processed foods. While I do that, I am also trying to cut back on some processed grains, easing up on my intake of wheat and rice products. I feel better, have more energy and feel good about what I am eating. No worries, I still indulge a bit. Just making sure that what I put in my body is quality.

A recent vegetable share included these massive collard greens. I’ve never cooked with collard greens before. Many of the recipes I saw online and heard about from friends was all about simple sautes. I knew that I wanted to do something different with these wonderful greens, but wasn’t quite sure what.


As I glanced at these ginormous leaves, I thought about using it as a wrap of sorts. Why not use it in place of a tortilla.

I quickly gathered up a few veggies, along with a can of black beans, and sautéed them up in a pan along with some spices.

While the veggies were sautéing, I washed, trimmed and steamed the collard green leaves.

I let the leaves cool for a couple minutes and then I laid them on a cutting board, added some of the bean mixture, and wrapped the leaves up like a burritos.


It worked out perfectly. Will definitely be making these again.


Grain Free Collard Green Burritos
  • Collard Green Leaves (1 per burrito)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Wash and trim the stems off of the collard green leaves.
  2. Bring some salted water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the washed and trimmed leaves to the pot. Steam the leaves for just a few minutes.
  3. Heat up the olive oil in a large saute pan.
  4. Add the onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook another 5-7 minutes. The veggies should be soft.
  6. Lay a collard green leaf on a flat surface.
  7. Place around three tablespoons of filling in the center of a leaf.
  8. Wrap the collard green around the filling, like a burrito. Folding the sides in first and then rolling up.
  9. Serve with a salad.
  10. Enjoy!

Grain Free Collard Green Burritos

Fresh Green Garbanzo Beans

I love finding new treats in my local grocery stores. We went to HMart this weekend for a post-Passover stock-up of all things Asian. It’s one of our favorite stores, and when we have time, we love to wander the aisles. We love discovering new food territory for our tastebuds. My husband was browsing the produce area when he quickly ran to get me. He excitedly handed me this lovely plastic package and asked if I could do anything with it. The package held some beautiful, fresh green garbanzo beans. I quickly became excited with all of the possibilities.


Green garbanzo beans are freshly picked and harvested, unlike the traditional canned or dried yellow/tan chickpeas you can find at the store. These green chickpeas are much sweeter than the traditional variety.

greengarbanzos1What to do first? I rinsed off a bunch and plucked a few green chickpeas out of their shells and popped them in my mouth. Yum. They had a nice nuttiness and tasted very similar to fresh English peas.

I decided to sauté them in their shells and eat them like edamame. Spicing them with some sea salt, cumin and a bit of red pepper flakes. It definitely brought out the chickpea’s natural flavors and made it perfect for snacking. These were very addictive and would be perfect for serving with cocktails before a  meal.

I have a couple cups of the garbanzo beans left and looking forward to playing with them further.

Fresh Garbanzo Beans (Green Chickpeas)


2 cups Fresh green garbanzo beans in their pods
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. cumin
additional sea salt – to taste


Heat up a large saute pan with olive oil.

Throw in the garbanzo beans and the spices and stir a bit. Let the beans char a bit.

Cook for a few minutes, stirring to incorporate the spices.

Remove from heat and transfer to serving dish to cool

Sprinkle with a bit more sea salt.

Squeeze the bean pod in to your mouth and eat like you would edamame, discarding the shells.



VeganMofo: Vegetable Black Bean Soup

Veggie Black Bean

So, I am sitting at home today, waiting out Hurricane Sandy. The actual storm hasn’t really started, so we are thankful for the power. School and work are both closed and the family is getting restless. Instead of going completely bonkers indoors, we are trying to get things done.

Did a quick pantry clean-out to see what we have. I have no worries that we will ever go hungry during this storm. My kids might complain, but we’re good.
Came upon plenty of canned goods and decided to make this fantastic and easy black bean soup.
The smells were intoxicating pretty quickly, I didn’t want to wait to eat it, but it’s definitely worth it. It cooks up pretty quickly.

Vegetable Black Bean Soup
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 small onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tsp. cumin
3 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground pepper
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cans black beans
1 can chopped tomatoes
1.5 cups frozen corn
non-dairy sour cream (optional)
Heat up the vegetable oil in a large soup pot on medium-high.
Add in the onions, carrots, celery and chopped pepper. Cook for a few minutes.
Add in the garlic and the spices.  Cook another 5 minutes.
Add in the canned goods and vegetable broth.
Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium low and cover the pot.
Cook for 30-40 minutes.

With a potato masher or an immersion blender, mash or puree some of the soup. You still want the chunks, but the pureed or mashed bits will help thicken the soup.

Cook another 10-15 minutes on low. Try it. Season with additional salt if necessary.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.


Veggie Black Bean

Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes

Lentil Sloppy Joes

I was browsing through the grocery store the other day, and I came across an end cap that held rows and rows of Manwich. I haven’t had that stuff in years, if ever. A while back though, I made some homemade sloppy joes for the kids and they were a big hit, if a bit messy. I don’t know which part they liked more – the saucy hands or the taste of the saucy meat.

Anyhow, Sloppy Joes brings back some good food memories. Not eating meat anymore, I decided to turn it in to a vegetarian treat and use lentils as my base. It turned out really great!

Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes

1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 10 oz. package of mushrooms, chopped
1 can of lentils, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. cayenne
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground pepper

Hamburger Buns or Kaiser Rolls for serving
Cole Slaw (optional) for serving in the Sloppy Joe’s


Heat a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add in the oil.

Add in the chopped onions and cook until soft.

Add in the garlic, peppers, celery and mushrooms. Cook a few minutes.

Add in the lentils and the broth and cook a minute.

Add in the rest of the ingredients and cook 5-10 minutes. Let it come to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes.

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Spoon mixture over some slightly hollowed out kaiser rolls. I like topping mine with a bit of coleslaw for a tangy crunch!

Yum! Enjoy!

Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup red pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • ½ 10 oz. package of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 can of lentils, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ cup of tomato sauce
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground pepper
  • Hamburger Buns or Kaiser Rolls for serving
  • Cole Slaw (optional) for serving in the Sloppy Joe's
  1. Heat a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add in the oil.
  2. Add in the chopped onions and cook until soft.
  3. Add in the garlic, peppers, celery and mushrooms. Cook a few minutes.
  4. Add in the lentils and the broth and cook a minute.
  5. Add in the rest of the ingredients and cook 5-10 minutes. Let it come to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Spoon mixture over some slightly hollowed out kaiser rolls. I like topping mine with a bit of coleslaw for a tangy crunch!
  7. Enjoy!


Lentil Sloppy Joes

Veggie Lentil Loaf

Sunday is my day to make things. I spread out my wings in the kitchen, so to speak, and get down to business. It will never be my day to shine as a once-a-month cooking type person, but I can at least try to get createive in the kitchen. I try to make something new, using a new skill or a new ingredient. Whatever it may be – I have a few extra minutes, so why not use it to cook something tasty. I get extra excited when whatever I make becomes an easy meal for during the week.

I am trying to make more gluten free, whole meals that can serve everyone. I don’t like having to prepare multiple meals to fit the eating habits of various family members. I’m also trying to spend less and use up more in the house. 
Looking through my cabinets I found some trusty lentils. I’ve been wanting to make a lentil loaf for a long time. I came up with this recipe. Seems to work!

Veggie Lentil Loaf

2.5 cups of cooked lentils (I recommend you cook the lentils in veggie broth)
2 cups rice, cooked (I used basmati)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, grated
10 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. rosemary
2 tbsp. flax + 2 tbsp. water OR two eggs

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place lentils in a large mixing bowl and mash half of them. Add the rice to the bowl.

If you are going the flax seed route, this is where you will mix the flax seed with the water and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

Saute the onions and garlic for a few minutes. Add in the mushrooms and carrots.  Add in the spices. Saute for another 3-5 minutes.

Add the vegetable mixture to the lentil/rice mixture. Mix in the ketchup and another tablespoon of olive oil.

Press the mixture into loaf pans. I had enough mixture for two loaf pans. Drizzle ketchup on top of each loaf.

Bake in the oven for about an hour.

I served this with a vegetarian onion gravy made up of earth balance, veggie broth, onions, garlic, herbs, and potato starch as a thickener.

Dinner was some lentil loaf, roasted brussel sprouts, and sweet potato fries. Yum!

You can definitely play with it.


Apologies for the not so pretty picture…
it was just that kind of night

Red Beans and Rice – The Kosher Way!

Last Sunday night, with two hungry and cranky kids in tow, we found ourselves wandering the grocery store in search of something quick to prepare.  I am rarely grateful for Acme Markets and their high prices. Except for nights like that. They have a kosher deli counter and a great kosher section that rivals our local kosher grocery store. Being that they are spawned from big corporate mayhem, they are also able to provide better sale prices every so often. 

As I perused the deli case, I noticed that they had a big selection of Jacks’s Gourmet Sausages on sale. I tried their bratwurst this summer at a BBQ, and we really liked them. Decided to pick up some chorizo. Figured that the extra spice would help. So glad that I chose that flavor. It was perfect for the dish.

As we drove home, we brainstormed how best to elevate the chorizo for a mid-week dinner. A special request was made for red beans and rice. J grew up in the South where he ate the real thing. I didn’t know if I could top that in a pork-less dish. I know it wasn’t going to be completely authentic. I figured I could at least try. It did come out well. I even brought leftovers for lunch the next day. I never bring the leftovers. It was that good.

Red Beans & Rice 


1.5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped (I know, not authentic – but added some texture)
ground black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of cayenne
2 bay leaves
handful of chopped fresh parsley
a few teaspoons of fresh thyme
1 package of chorizo sausage, sliced
1 can of red beans (could even use two cans)
2 cups of veggie broth
Cooked white rice (I used basmati)

Cook your rice as you normally do. Keep warm and set aside.

In a large pan, heat up the oil. Throw in the garlic and onions and let soften. A few minutes.

Throw in the other veggies and stir, Let them cook for a few minutes.

Add in the spices and herbs. 

Now add the sausage and beans. Cook for a few more minutes. 

Add in the broth. Let the broth boil.  Mash some of the red beans. Let it cook for about a half hour. The flavors get betters as you cook it longer. Let some of the broth evaporate. It should still be saucy.  Serve over some white rice.


Veggie Chili with Soyrizo

It was a veggie chili kind of day today.  Been pouring on and off all day. I’ve been wanting to make a big pot of chili for a while now. It finally happened today. Woke up to some crazy rain this morning. 

The ingredients can usually be found in my pantry. No reason not to hold off any longer. Chili is also a cheap and easy meal that goes a long way. Throw in some brown rice, cheddar cheese, and sour cream – and everyone’s happy.

Veggie Chili with Soyrizo

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 package of soyrizo (trader joe’s or friedas brand)
1 red onion, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
6 medium baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1.5 cups assorted chopped peppers
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
4 cans of beans – kidney and black bean combo
28 oz. of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp. good balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
salt, to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil.  Crumble up the soy chorizo and add it to the pot. Cook on medium-high for a few minutes. 

Add in all the chopped veggies and cook for around 5-10 minutes on medium high. Let all the veggies soften.

Add in the beans and the spices and stir a bit.  Add in the tomatoes. Add in the balsamic. Let the mixture come to a boil.  Cover the pot and let everything cook and simmer for about an hour. Add salt to taste.

Serve over brown rice with whatever toppings you desire. We enjoyed our chili over some brown rice tonight with some salad on the side.



Lentil Burgers

I have been on a vegetarian dinner kick. I am usually an accidental vegetarian, but lately I have intentionally been subjecting the family to vegetarian dinners. I don’t get too many complaints. A recent dinner was lentil burgers. I was inspired by a lonely bag of red lentils sitting in my pantry. They were waiting to be made into some type of dal recipe, but I had some other plans. I had a photo to go with this recipe, but it disappeared in the abyss of my computer. You will have to just trust me that they both tasted yummy and looked yummy.

I served the burgers with sweet potato fries and some brussel sprouts. Yum!

The burgers were served on a bun with lettuce, onion, and a bit of tzatziki. Yum.

The recipe is below.

Lentil Burgers

1 cup lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
1 small onion, chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup flavored bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. oil

Bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the lentils. Cook covered on low. Cook until all liquid is absorbed. Let the lentils cool.

Once cool, add the rest of the ingredients, except for the oil.

Form the burgers into burger size patties. Do not make them too thick. Let the formed patties cool in the refridgerator for 30 minutes.

Oil a fry pan. Cook the patties in the oil, about 5-6 minutes each side, or until lightly browned.

Serve as you would a burgers, as suggested above, or however you feel lentil burgers deserved to be eaten.


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