Light Tomato Sauce – Easy and Delicious!


For years I tried making marinara sauce with canned tomatoes. I tried whole ones. I tried crushed ones. I tried cubed ones. I tried onions. I tried pinches of sugar. But no matter how hard I tried, I almost always ended up with a sauce that was too acidic – even after hours and hours of cooking. I think some of the problems I encountered stemmed from following bad advice, including cooking the garlic before adding the tomatoes.

Though I still haven’t perfected my marinara sauce recipe, I have come up with a really easy, fool proof recipe for fresh tomato sauce that is so delicious, I haven’t even wanted to go back to the canned stuff!


5-6 tomatoes – cubed (plum or vine work best)
3 cloves of garlic
1-2 leaves of basil – ripped (optional)
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

– Preheat sauce pan on medium. Add the olive oil.

– Carefully add the tomatoes into the pan, then add the garlic, basil, and salt and pepper. The salt will help the tomatoes break down.

– Cook on medium for about 30-45 minutes, or until the tomatoes have all broken down and a sauce had formed.

– Cook your favorite pasta a minute less than package directions, drain, then add to sauce and cook for another minute.

– Serve and enjoy. Makes about 4 portions (approx half lb of pasta).


Vegetable Stew – Where’s the Beef?!

Vegetable Stew

Comfort food – the phrase conjures images of high-fat, meat-laden, foods that becoming a vegetarian would place well out of reach.  A scary thought.  And also untrue!  I’ve found that a lot of comfort food recipes can be easily adapted to be just as good or better than their meaty counterpart.  Not to mention a lot less fatty with none of the guilt.  Win win!

One of my favorite comfort foods has always been beef stew.  Now, even without the meat, I am able to create the hearty, delicious, comforting and satisfying flavor that I had been enjoying for years.  Plus, without all the tough meat that needs to tenderize, cook time is cut down significantly.

Here’s my recipe, adapted from the one I grew up eating.  When I make it, I like to make enough for leftovers, so the amounts I am listing are enough to feed my family of four (two adults and two young children) for about two nights.

Vegetable Stew

– 64oz V8 Juice

– 12 red potatoes – cubed (depending on size, you might want to use more or less)

– 1 large, or 2 medium onions – sliced

– 1lb baby carrots (I like to put them in whole.  They can be cut however you like them)

– 7-10 Stalks of Celery – sliced

– 1 package of mushrooms – whole or sliced (I used button, but de-gilled portobello can be used)

– approx 16oz frozen peas

– 1-2 tbsp butter

– 4 tbsp olive oil

– approx 5 tbsp flour

– 1 vegetable bouillon cube

– Salt and pepper to taste

(Create a Roux)
-Preheat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and some salt.  Cook onions until translucent, but not brown.  Add butter.  When melted, add flour until all the butter and oil are absorbed (you might need more or less than listed).  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3-4 minutes.  Do not brown.

– Stirring, add the entire bottle of V8 into the pot.  Add the rest of the vegetables, the bouillon cube and salt and pepper.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  Stew is almost ready when the vegetables are tender and the acidity of the V8 has reduced.  Add the peas, and cook until heated through.

– Best served with warm, crusty bread with butter if desired.

I kept the recipe traditional because that’s the way my family and I like to eat it.  Other vegetables (like parsnips or broccoli) can be added for more variety.  Also, if you like, herbs like thyme or rosemary can be added to give it a punchier flavor.

If you’ve been hesitating to make the switch to vegetarian because you fear you might miss meaty comfort food favorites like stew, or if you just want to skip the meat for a night, I hope you’ll give this recipe a try, and find out how delicious and fulfilling vegetables can be.  Enjoy!

And don’t forget to stay tuned…I’ve got lots more delicious recipes coming up!


You can take the girl out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of the girl.  When my husband and I moved from NY to South Florida, aside from family, the thing that we missed most was the food.  We were able to find good enough stand-ins for most of the things we missed, but the one thing we couldn’t find, no matter how we searched, were Zeppoli.  Those sweet, somewhat greasy, delicious little treats were ingrained in our palates as securely as our Brooklyn accent is in our voices when we say the word ‘coffee.’  I had no choice but to find a way to make them myself.  And the result was magical.


2 quarts oil for frying – I like to use canola
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch of salt
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 approx 15 oz package of ricotta (a little more or a little less is fine)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Brown paper bag (optional)
– Heat oil to approx 375 degrees.
– Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
– Stir in the eggs, ricotta and vanilla.
– Drop by tablespoons into the hot oil.  Zeppoli will turn over by themselves.  They should be a nice golden brown.
– Pour some confectioner’s sugar into the paper bag.  After removing Zeppoli from the oil, carefully put them into the paper bag, and shake until coated.  You can also use a plate instead of the bag and roll the zeppoli around in the sugar.

Not the healthiest thing, but delicious when the craving strikes.  I sometimes add a drop or two of almond extract, and they taste great like that too.  You could also choose to make a dipping sauce to go with them instead of the powdered sugar coating.  Enjoy!

Black Bean Burgers – They’re What’s For Dinner


When talking to vegetarians in the past, the conversation would inevitably end with my saying, “I think I would miss hamburgers too much.”  Were they my favorite food?  No.  Did I even eat them that often?  No.  I’m not sure why that was my default, but apparently I was afraid that as a vegetarian, I wouldn’t be able to resist the allure of a grilled beef patty. Upon further introspection, I don’t even think that it was the actual hamburger that I liked so much as the toppings that I could put on them.  Once I made ‘the switch,’ I tried Boca Burgers, but I just couldn’t bring myself to like them.  I knew I had to find a good recipe of my own.

Enter my homemade Black Bean Burger recipe.  They are so easy to make, so tasty, and so low in fat that no one can help but love them (They’re also a complete protein!).  They have cured me of my desire for hamburgers.  Even my mother, who is a devout meat eater, and eats her beef so rare it’s raw, loved these burgers.

The Recipe:

1 can black beans

1/2 cup brown rice

1 egg

Onion and Garlic – chopped/pureed/powder (whichever you prefer)

Approx 1/2 cup bread crumbs (you will need more if you use onion/garlic puree)

3-5 tbs olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste


– Prepare the rice according to package directions.  Set aside to cool.

– Drain and wash the beans and place them in a bowl.  Mash them with a fork. Don’t put them in a food processor because they will get too mushy.  Add the cooked rice, egg, salt and pepper, onion and garlic, and mix until combined.  Add the breadcrumbs until mixture can be formed into patties.

– Heat oil in a pan.  Form mixture into patties approximately 1/2 inch thick; I like mine to be on the thinner side, but if you make them too thin they will fall apart. Cook until browned, then flip and brown on other side.  Be careful while moving them around as they are pretty delicate.

– Serve on buns with cheese and/or any of your other favorite burger toppings.

– Will yield about 6-7 burgers.

Feel free to add any other flavors you think you might like.  Add corn and peppers for a Southwestern taste.  Teriyaki for an Asian spin.  Cayenne, cumin and chili powder for Mexican night.  My husband likes to make his own guacamole and add it to the top of his burger.  Experimentation is fun and can lead to many tasty surprises (and if not, there’s always take out pizza)!

I hope you enjoy this affordable, versatile weeknight meal as much as my family and I do.  Try it and tell me how you like it!

Green Smoothies – The Gateway Drink

They’re green.  They’re healthy.  They’re delicious.  And they were ridiculously easy to work into my daily routine.  It’s funny to think that before I started drinking green smoothies, I had never before eaten kale, chard, or a whole slew of other greens that have since become a staple in my household.

It’s been about seven months now since I started drinking green smoothies for breakfast.  Within the first month or two, just by drinking them for breakfast and cutting out meat from my diet, I lost 10+ lbs.  My husband, who was quite a bit overweight, drinks the green smoothies for breakfast and lunch, then eats what he wants for dinner.  In the 6-7 months since he’s started, he has lost 70+ lbs.

Some people might think that mixing greens with fruit would taste horrible.  The truth is, that when you use the right recipe (experimentation is the key), you can’t taste the greens at all.  People might also think that after you drink the smoothie, you’ll want to eat right away.  In reality, green smoothies are very satisfying because of the fiber content.  From my experience, myself, my husband, and friends we’ve served them to, can remain full from one to two cups of smoothie for three to four hours.

A key component to introducing green smoothies into your daily routine, is making sure that they are very tasty to start with.  If it’s not – you probably won’t want to drink it.  My recommendation is to start with a mild green such as spinach, chard or kale.  Fill about one quarter of your blender with the greens.  Then fill the rest of the blender with your favorite fruits.  Bananas, apples, oranges, or berries are all great choices (frozen fruits are great to use too).  Make sure to cut them to a consistency that your blender can handle.  Pour water over the fruit until about halfway up the blender.  Add ice if desired, blend, and enjoy.  As you get more and more used to the smoothies, you can add greater amounts and different kinds of greens.  Not only are they a great, practically effortless, and tasty way to lose weight, but they have also been shown to have many great health benefits for your body.

A great resource that I used to learn more about green smoothies is the book Green Smoothie Revolution: The Radical Leap Towards Natural Health (I have no affiliation with the author, nor am I being paid for an endorsement. But if you click the link and buy it from Amazon I make a few pennies) .  It’s what I read to get started, and I feel like it has some useful information.

So I hope that I’ve gotten you so interested in green smoothies that you want to go out and try them.  And I hope that once you try them and love them, you experience all of the wonderful health benefits that they can offer.  Enjoy!

The Beginning

To make this a proper journey, I suppose the best place to start is in the beginning.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but a quick synopsis won’t hurt too much.  I spent the first 30 years of my life eating meat.  I was almost always a picky eater, though, and admittedly, the meat I would eat was limited to leaner cuts of beef, white meat chicken, and the occasional ham.

As I got older, I began feeling more and more guilty thinking that an animal had to give its life for me to eat.  I was able to push that thought to the back of my mind, however, thinking that it would be too hard to switch to vegetarianism, and that my husband would never go for it.  I think there are a lot of people out there at the same point in their lives.  I’ve spoken to several about it at the checkout counter when they saw what I was buying and asked me if I were a vegetarian.

It was Christmas 2010.  My uncle made (delicious) pot roast for dinner.  My aunt was not going to eat any because she had recently become a vegetarian and started drinking green smoothies.  We discussed her new diet, how much weight she had lost (a considerable amount) and how good she felt.  My husband and I agreed to implement the green smoothies into our diet, but I still wasn’t convinced that we could make the switch.  The next night, as I heated up the left-over pot roast, I knew that I didn’t want to eat meat anymore.  My husband, who had been craving steaks almost every week, also decided that it was time to change.

I can’t say that switching to vegetarianism has been easy – especially for someone like me who enjoys eating out at restaurants frequently.  I also am pretty into food and like to cook a lot.  Doing a massive overhaul of my recipe list is taking some time, but truthfully, a lot of my favorite recipes that I used to make with meat, have been just as good or better without it.  Eating out is a totally different story.

I’m looking forward to sharing life lessons, favorite recipes and outside dining experiences as I progress in this journey with you.  Please feel free to share your own experiences here too!