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Pasta-less Pasta Salad


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Pastas, Salads, Uncategorized | Posted on 16-09-2012

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Once again, I am doing Kris Carr’s 21-Day Adventure Cleanse and I’m finding that the green juice really gets my creative juices flowing! I particularly love the challenge of making yummy food vegan AND gluten-free. This recipe meets those two criteria and many of the others on the cleanse — it’s made with raw veggies and herbs, it’s balanced with a protein, and it’s even low-glycemic!

The stand-in for pasta in this recipe is a large-grated summer squash. Grating the squash with a large-whole grater gives the squash the size and texture needed to look and feel like real pasta. And the light, zingy dressing gives it the traditional pasta-salad taste.

2 small or one large summer squash (yellow or zucchini), grated
1 cup fresh tomatoes
1 tbsp. fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 can of white beans: navy, northern or cannellini
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped

For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tbsp. white wine vinegar
4 tbsp. water

Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together until blended. Add to the veggie ingredients. Chill for one hour and serve.

Sweet Corn and Avocado Salsa


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-08-2012


Sweet corn season is just about over. Sniff sniff. So let’s go out on a high note with this easy, fresh salsa.


1 ripe Haas avocado, chopped
2 small ears sweet corn, kernels cut off
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
3 small, fresh garden tomatoes (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
2 small cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tbsp. minced cilantro
1/2 fresh-squeezed lemon or lime

Optional: 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced


  1. Combine ll of the ingredients listed in a bowl and stir.
  2. Taste. Add salt and lime to your personal taste.
  3. Chill in refrigerator for at least one hour and serve.

The Unhealthiest Recipe on This Blog: Italian Butter


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Appetizers & Sides, Breads, Uncategorized | Posted on 22-01-2012

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Green Swamp Soup Italian Butter

My favorite Italian restaurant is Garozzo’s in Kansas City, Missouri. The original location is in Kansas City’s Little Italy near the river market. My dear friend, Frank Siraguso, who grew up in Little Italy during its golden age, turned me onto Garozzo’s many years ago. I was immediately smitten.

The first thing I remember tasting was a dish called Sicilian Garlic Dip that Frank affectionately called Italian Butter. Served with warm Italian bread, the dip was one of the most decadent and addictive dishes I’ve ever tasted. Like the infamous Turkish Delight in Chronicles of Narnia, I couldn’t get enough! The more I ate, the more I wanted.

At home, I tried to mimic the recipe. It’s impossible. But once I moved here to Iowa and far away from Garozzo’s, I became determined to come as close as I could.

What I came up with is a garlicky herbed dip that can’t beat Garozzo’s, but holds its own here at the Andrews’ dinner table.

Italian Butter


2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried or fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried basil (1 tsp. fresh)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 or 3 dashes of salt


  1. In the still warm melted butter, add minced garlic and stir. (This infused the fresh garlic flavor into the rest of the dip.)
  2. Add all remaining ingredients, grating cheese in last. Serve at room temperature with Italian or crusty ciabatta bread.

“Cheesy” Cauliflower Soup (Vegan-friendly)


Posted by Mariah | Posted in 21-Day-Adventure Cleanse, Main Dishes, Soups, Uncategorized | Posted on 14-11-2011

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Although, I recently came out as a bona fide Chegan, there’s no need to go that route with this “cheesy” soup. Adapted from the Moosewood Low-fat Favorites cookbook, this soup was a hit with my family and even Chelsea at Roots Market!

What makes this soup so cheesy, I think, is the fresh lemon. It certainly wasn’t the intention of the recipe writers to make the soup cheesy, but in my version of the recipe, that’s how it turns out. The other reason this works so well is the fact that you puree the soup — this gives it the creamy “cheesy” smoothness without the cheese.


2 cups chopped onions
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
3 cups diced potatoes
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped (about five cups)
3 tsp. dried dill
1-2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. dried mustard
1/4 tsp. caraway seeds
5 cups vegetable broth (or 5 cups water with 2 tbsp. vegetable Better Than Bouillon)
Salt to taste

Optional: Green onions for garnish.


  1. In a soup pot, saute onions, garlic, celery and carrots in about 1/2 cup of broth or water until all veggies are soft.
  2. Add all of the rest of the ingredients, except lemon juice, and bring to a boil. (Be careful not to use too much water. Water should be just below the top of all the ingredients in your pot.)
  3. Reduce to a simmer and simmer until veggies are tender, around 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Add about half of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth.
  5. Stir the pureed mixture into the remaining soup.
  6. Serve topped with green onions.

Secret Agent Soup


Posted by Mariah | Posted in 21-Day-Adventure Cleanse, Soups, Uncategorized | Posted on 26-09-2011

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Nutty Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Nutty Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, a.k.a. Secret Agent Soup

Gus said it best: This soup is peanut sauce meets squash. If you like either, I think you’ll like this. If you like both, you’ll love it.

I called this “Secret Agent Soup” because I read somewhere that kids are more apt to eat something with a fun, creative, kid-like name. I had to come up with this one on the fly because Gus asked what it was and I certainly didn’t want to tell him “Nutty Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.” Way too boring. Way too healthy.

So, I told him it was Secret Agent Soup and he had to find out what was in it himself. This worked out splendidly because it required tasting a few bites to discern all of the different flavors. Of course, he nailed peanut sauce and squash immediately. (Technically, it’s not peanut sauce, but with the other spices it tastes a heck of a lot like it.)

This recipe is modified from a recipe for Nutty Sweet Potato Soup in this month’s Vegetarian Times.

2 tbsp. olive oil
5 cups roasted butternut squash*
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. tomato paste
3 tbsp. creamy natural peanut butter
2 medium leeks, diced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. tumeric

Optional: 1 tsp. harissa paste or 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (if you want it SPICY)

Optional: 1/2 cup chopped spinach

Garnish with honey roasted peanuts.


  1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven saute leeks in olive oil for 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, peanut butter, tomato sauce and spices and saute for two more minutes (add broth if needed to moisten pot).
  3. Add squash and broth.
  4. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Puree soup in small batches.
  6. Add spinach.
  7. Garnish with peanuts and Sriracha sauce.

* Directions for roasting a squash:

1. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Save the seeds for toasting!

2. Set both halves face down on a baking sheet with a rim.

3. Pour enough water onto the baking sheet to cover the bottom with water.

4. Roast for 40 minutes, or until squash are tender.

5. Allow to cool, then use or store in an airtight container in the fridge for later.

Baby Lamp Chops With Yogurt Mint Sauce (Substitute for Lamb Included!)


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 01-04-2011


I think I’ve stumbled upon the latest food trend just now. First there was bacon. Now, it’s food made out of babies for babies.  I was so moved by this recipe by the famous model/mother/foodie/boho blogger of Weelicious and her decision to overcome her “fear” of eating lamb so she could feed it to her two young children that I just had to post it. She really took one for the team, let me tell you, and made up this delicious recipe, “My kids must not have inherited my distaste for lamb because my two little carnivores proceeded to voraciously dip the chops in the yogurt mint sauce and pick the bones clean of any trace of meat. They were in heaven to say the least. I could swear the look on both of their faces meant, ‘why have you never given us this before?!’”

Wow! This is incredibly impressive. Here I thought I was doing well getting my kids to eat their hummus with a spoon and gobble up asparagus soup like little fiends, but no. When you can get your babies to eat other babies, you have gone to a whole nother level.

So, why not give this a try? If you cant find a baby lamb in your backyard or at your local farm, why not go for a kitten, or better yet, a nice baby rabbit. I’m sure there’s lots of those around this time of year, what with Easter and what not. Go crazy!

Awesome Peanut Sauce


Posted by Mariah | Posted in 21-Day-Adventure Cleanse, Appetizers & Sides, Salads, Uncategorized | Posted on 17-03-2011

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Best Peanut Sauce In The World

One of my favorite restaurant’s in Kansas City, the Blue Koi, has a sauce simply called “awesome sauce.” I’m really not sure what’s in it, but it is indeed awesome. And you can drizzle it over everything on their menu — from spring rolls to lettuce wraps to one of their many awesome noodle dishes.

This peanut sauce recipe is like that. It goes well with any Asian cuisine you want to throw at it. But it’s equally delicious on raw veggies, steamed veggies, rice crackers, pita chips, etc. I modified the following recipe from the Moosewood’s Lowfat Favorites cookbook. (A must-have for vegetarians who are trying to cut back on fat and calories!)

3 tbsp. natural peanut butter, at room temperature
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 to 1 fresh chile, minced, seeds removed for a milder heat
2 tbsp.  cider or rice vinegar
1 tbsp. cilantro
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp.  soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh or prepared salsa
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root


  1. Throw all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy.
  2. Try it with Soba Noodle Stir Fry or anything Asian.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 29-09-2010

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This pesto recipe is super-versatile and full of flavor. I made it over a weekend and used it in several dishes — homemade pizza, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and lasagna. You can even use it to add flavor to soups and salad dressings!


2 cups basil
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. pine nuts
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put your sun-dried tomatoes in about 2 cups of boiling water and let stand for 20 minutes to soften the tomatoes.
  2. Just throw it all in a food processor and pulse to desired consistency, scraping the sides between pulses. I like my pesto “chunky,” but you may like yours a little smoother. Use your pulse setting, though, so you don’t over process your pesto into mush.

Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Appetizers & Sides, Main Dishes, Meal Ideas, Uncategorized | Posted on 29-09-2010

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Nearly everyone I know loves grilled cheese — it’s practically the perfect comfort food. But sometimes you want a little kick with your comfort. These “gourmet” grilled cheese sandwiches deliver and then some. They give you all of the crispy grilled-ness you love, just with more flavor and different cheeses.

I grew up hating cheese. It’s true. Someone made me eat a Kraft single when I was about four, and I was a cheese hater my entire childhood and well into adulthood, until I met my husband. He convinced me there was something inherently wrong with not liking cheese and made me try real cheese — sharp cheddar, gouda, swiss and goat to name a few — and then I was hooked! These cheeses were nothing like that oily, floppy old slice I flushed down the toilet when I was a kid!

Needless to say, when I make a grilled cheese sandwich, for my kids, myself or the hubby, I use real cheese. That’s an absolute must. But liking spicy foods, I’ve found over time that I need something more. That something more being flavor — veggies, spices, etc. So I’m sharing some of my favorite recipes with you now.

Besides real, good cheese, the other must of an awesome grilled cheese sandwich is good bread. If you don’t worry about “healthy” bread, one of the best breads to use is Pepperidge Farms sandwich white. For those wanting a healthier bread, I like Rudi’s Organic 7 Grain with Flax.

Now that you have your bread, you need to make sure you have either a grill press or a heavy pan, preferably a cast iron skillet, to press your sandwich. This is a must to achieve the all-over-golden-brown deliciousness demonstrated in the photo. However, if you don’t have a press of some sort, it will still taste good without it.


Gouda cheese
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Goat cheese
Sun-dried tomato pesto
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 red pepper, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
Butter or buttery spread

For vegans:
You can use Daiya shreds, either Cheddar or Mozzarella, to make these sandwiches every bit as yummy as the real thing. This is really the only exception to my “real” cheese must. :)


  1. Heat skillet to medium heat, or griddle to 350.
  2. Lightly toast your bread in your toaster — this is a must for a good, crispy sandwich and another trick I learned from my husband.
  3. Butter opposite sides of bread, and then lay the buttered sides together, like you’re making a butter sandwich.
  4. For the Gouda cheese sandwich: layer three thin slices of Gouda on the dry bread side. Sprinkle with red onion and peppers. Layer three more thin slices of Gouda on top of the veggies. Then turn the bottom buttered toast layer on top of the stack, so that now both buttered sides are exposed.
  5. For the goat cheese and mozzarella sandwich: spread the sun-dried tomato pesto on the bread. Top with two thin slices of mozzarella and about five goat cheese crumbles. Then turn the bottom buttered toast over as directed above. If you want veggies, add them!
  6. Grill for about a minute, then flip over.
  7. Now lay your press on top of the sandwich and grill for one more minute.
  8. Flip over again and grill for another 30 seconds so that both sides are uniformly golden.
  9. Let cool for about a minute, then cut into sections and serve.

Blue Potato Enchilada Casserole


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Casseroles, Main Dishes, Meal Ideas, Uncategorized | Posted on 14-09-2010

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September just happens to be national potato month! What better way to celebrate than with this unique blue potato enchilada recipe.

I found some excellent blue potatoes at the Cedar Falls Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago at the Friedrich farm stand. I instantly fell in love with their unique flavor and texture, not to mention their gorgeous blue-purple color! They seemed to me the perfect filler for my ever-evolving vegetarian enchilada recipe, and hence they were!

I made a pan of these enchiladas for our cousins in Des Moines last weekend using Juan O’Sullivans Salsa De Mesa, a locally made salsa, as the enchilada sauce. It was absolutely delicious. You can order your own jar right online if you wan to try the salsa in this recipe. If not, any can of red enchilada sauce will do.

4 medium blue potatoes, thinly sliced with skins on
1 small onion, chopped
1 14-oz can of red enchilada sauce or 1 jar of Juan O’Sullivans
6 whole-wheat tortillas
1 can black beans
1 12-oz. bag of cheddar cheese
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
4 roasted green chile peppers, or 1 can green chiles (optional)
1 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Start by covering the bottom of  the pan with one ladle of enchilada sauce.
  3. Spread two tortillas across the middle of the pan. Tear the other tortilla in half and then layer the two halves on opposites sides of the pan, with the straight edges parallel to the edge of the pan.
  4. Spread another ladle of sauce over the tortillas.
  5. Lay 1/2 of the potato slices flat on top of the sauce, spreading them evenly across the pan.
  6. Sprinkle 1/2 of the onions and 1/2 of the beans over the potatoes.
  7. If using green chiles, spread these evenly over the onions and beans.
  8. Add 1/2 of the cheese.
  9. Repeat step 2 by spreading tortillas over the cheese.
  10. Spread another ladle of sauce over the tortillas.
  11. Repeat steps 4 through 8 (though you will probably be out of green chiles; if not, spread the rest)
  12. Add red pepper slices to the top of the cheese.
  13. Cover the pan with foil and bake for and hour and 15 minutes.
  14. Allow to cool and set up for 10 minutes before serving.
  15. Serve with Heirloom Tomato and Sweet Corn Salsa.