Archive for the ‘Willie’s Meals’ Category


Red Bean & Beet Hummus

March 5, 2011

Has it really been over a month since my last post? My apologies, readers. But I’m back now, and with a new original hummus recipe (and another to come tomorrow)! So that’s exciting, right?

In fact, I’ve been making a lot of hummuses (hummi?) lately. They make awesome additions to salads, and provide a nice snack throughout the day. One of my favorite hummus varieties of late has been beet hummus (which Caitlin first posted about a long time ago). Up to this weekend I’d been following this recipe from Eat Right Ontario, which is excellent, but I was starting to feel ready for something a little different.

Thankfully, I found inspiration in the latest Sweet Or Savory Kitchen Challenge hosted by the Diet, Desserts and Dogs and Affairs of Living blogs. For those unaware, the S.O.S. Kitchen Challenge is a monthly invitation to bloggers to cook up new recipes centered around a special ingredient. This month’s ingredient is azuki beans, and as soon I saw this, I immediately thought that I should make an azuki bean hummus—something I’d never tried before, but which sounded like it could turn out pretty good.

After some deliberation, I decided that azuki beans might make a good complement to beets, and so last night I tried giving it a whirl (literally!). The result was fantastic! I think azuki beans actually work better than chickpeas, as they give the hummus a darker, earthier taste. I didn’t even need to bother add extra spices to the batch; just six simple ingredients were all this hummus needed! Plus, like most hummuses, the recipe is super simple, so you should definitely try it out for yourself. Enjoy!

Red Bean & Beet Hummus


  • 1 cup cooked azuki beans
  • 2 large beets
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 to 4 tbsp water / reserved beet juice from boiling


  1. Cook those beets! Well, wash them first, and then boil them until easily pierced with a fork, about thirty minutes. Then drain (reserving some of the liquid if desired), let cool, peel, and chop into small chunks.
  2. Throw everything in! Place chopped beets in a food processor along with the azuki beans, tahini, and lemon juice.
  3. Whirl it up! As you go on, add water or reserved beet liquid to thin it out.
  4. That’s it!

For reference, here’s what mine looked like after it was all whipped up:

Mine was probably a little more liquidy than I should’ve made it, but it was still delicious! I hope you enjoy this too!

Until we eat again,



Black and Gold Steelers Rice Pudding

February 3, 2011

Only three more days until the big game! Are you pumped?!

Well, just in case you need something to get you extra excited, today I’ve got a black and gold Steelers dessert for yinz guys, the last in my series of Steelers-themed recipes: Steelers Rice Pudding! Not only is it probably the most vividly black and gold recipe I’ve made this week, it also happens to be one of my favorite desserts. Ever. And I’m not even than into rice pudding. But seriously, this recipe is in a league of its own, and the Superbowl is the perfect excuse for you to make it. So make it!

So what is this amazing dessert exactly? It’s Coconut Black Rice Pudding topped with Fresh Mango, the recipe for which can be found here on the excellent Fat Free Vegan blog. It’s fairly easy to execute, but does require some more exotic ingredients, such as cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and cheesecloth (N.B.: You do not need a pressure cooker to make this; regular pot instructions are at the bottom, and that’s the only way I’ve made it.). But seriously, the price you may pay to stock up on some of these new pantry items is well worth it, as you’ll know as soon as you take your first bite, and you’ll be quickly using them up as you’ll be wanting make this recipe again and again. It’s just that good.

Here’s hoping that I’ll be enjoying some of this pudding Sunday night as a sweet, sweet victory snack. And in case you missed them, don’t forget about the other Steelers recipes I’ve posted this week, which should provide you with plenty of options for your own Superbowl party. To review:

Appetizer: Black and Gold Steelers Hummus

Main: Black and Gold Steelers Noodles

Main: Black and Gold Steelers Soup

Side: Black and Gold Steelers Cornbread

I can’t wait for the game!

Until we eat again,



Black and Gold Steelers Cornbread

February 2, 2011

The big game is only a few days away! Are you excited?!

Today I’m here to share with you all my Steelers Superbowl side dish: Black and Gold Steelers Cornbread! Like my black and gold Steelers hummus recipe from a few days ago, this is another simple variation on a classic (although I can’t take credit for this idea—it was my father who suggested it to me). All I had to do was get out my favorite cornbread recipe (which happens to be this one, with the baking powder halved and the sugar doubled, but feel free to use whatever recipe you prefer), and then mix some poppyseeds into the batter (I’d suggest about 2 tbsp of poppyseeds for a normal, 8×8 dish batch). Just to keep things simple, I whipped up a half batch myself and baked this cute little loaf:

I really liked how this came out visually, and I really love cornbread, so this was great all around. Plus, it’d make the perfect side to some of my black and gold Steelers soup, if you’re looking for some more food to fill your Superbowl table. Here are a few more photos…

I hope this finds its way onto your table Sunday night (or any night, really—this variation is good enough to repeat even without the special occasion). I’ll be back tomorrow with one more Steelers recipe! Hold tight until then!

Until we eat again,



Black and Gold Steelers Soup

February 1, 2011

Another day, another Steelers recipe!

Today I’m here to share with you my recipe for Steelers Soup, my main course offering in my Steelers Superbowl series. (If you missed by last two Steelers-themed dishes, simply scroll down to check them out.) This soup is an adaptation of a black bean soup recipe I got from my mom, which she clipped out of a New York Times Magazine from before I was born. I ‘Steelerized’ it by adding a variety of yellow vegetables to the mix: corn, yellow peppers, and yellow carrots! (A lot of people have been surprised to hear about these yellow carrots, but they’re perfectly natural, if less common. Carrots are also found in purple, red, and white varieties, in case you’re curious.) I really liked how the colors of this one came out: the black bean puree was a wonderfully dark black, and the vegetables provided the perfect gold contrast. But more importantly, this soup is tasty! It’s good enough to make even when the Steelers aren’t playing (and, as it occurs to me just now, if made with orange carrots and orange peppers, this would make a nice Hallowe’en soup!). But enough talk—here’s the recipe.

Black and Gold Steelers Soup

serves 4 to 6


  • 1.5 cups dried black beans (or 2 cans black beans—you want about 3 cups cooked beans in the end)
  • 2 large yellow carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds (other yellow vegetables are also okay! be inventive!)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 small roma tomato, seeded and chopped (for optional step #5)
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar (for optional step #5)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • between 1 and 1.5 cups corn, fresh or frozen


  1. The night before, soak dried beans in a big bowl of water. The next day, drain beans, reserving the liquid in case it’s needed for step 3. Place beans in a large pot, add a generous amount of water, bring to a boil, and then simmer between 1.5 and 2.5 hours, until beans are very soft. (If using canned beans, skip this step.)
  2. While the beans are cooking, roast your carrots. Lay out the rounds on a baking sheet, sprinkle with some salt, and drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top. Cook for about thirty minutes, until carrots can easily be pierced with a fork, flipping halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool until needed in step 6.
  3. Drain cooked beans, again reserving the liquid (very important). You want to have about three cups of liquid. If you have less than this, add some of the soaking liquid from step one. Place cooked beans in a blender and puree until smooth, adding some the reserved liquid as necessary. Once done, add pureed mixture to the reserved liquid and mix together. (If using canned beans, save whatever you can from the liquid in the cans and then mix that with water to get three cups. I’m afraid this may diminish the soup’s black color some, but it should still work okay.)
  4. Heat some oil in a large pot. Add onions, yellow peppers, garlic, and cumin, and saute for several minutes.
  5. Optional Step! In the recipe I adapted this from, it next called for you to add the tomato and red wine vinegar to the pot and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. I’m really not sure how much these things really added to the recipe, and I think you’d be fine omitting them if you want to.
  6. Add the black bean mixture and bring to a low simmer. Add the coriander, salt and pepper to taste (I used a generous amount), and finally, the carrots and corn. Once vegetables are heated through, it’s ready to serve!

Hope you guys like this one! It’s a nice and hearty soup, and I rather enjoyed it myself. There will be more Steelers treats in the days to come, so keep checking back. And goooooooo Steelers!

Until we eat again,



Black and Gold Steelers Hummus

January 30, 2011

Guess who’s going to the Superbowl!!

As you might have suspected after reading my last post, I was thrilled watching the Steelers trounce the Jets last Sunday—and their victory made my black and gold noodles taste all the more delicious. And now the Steelers are one game away from winning their seventh Superbowl title! Incredible. So to celebrate this monumental occasion, I’ve decided to whip up a big batch of Steelers-themed food: four dishes, to be precise, which I will be revealing one by one over the course of this week. They’ll all be continuing in the same black and gold theme, in honor of the Steelers’ colors—which, by the way, are not the easiest to cook with. Constraining myself to this visual theme has thus made me get a little inventive, but everything has turned out delicious nonetheless! I’ll be posting a variety of types of dishes over the next few days, so there should be something for everyone, and I hope some of them will find their way onto your Superbowl smorgasbord!

So without further ado, let’s get to today’s recipe, a fairly simple Steelers appetizer and dip: Black and Gold Steelers Hummus!

The black is from the black beans, which serve as this hummus’s base (as opposed to the traditional chickpeas), and the gold is from a generous smattering of corn kernels, which I mixed in at the end. I followed this excellent recipe in making my black bean hummus, but the great thing about this is that you could really use any black bean hummus recipe you have or can find. Simply follow those instructions, and then after everything is well mixed in your food processor, scoop out the hummus into a bowl and mix in your corn kernels (either fresh or frozen will do) with a spoon. And voilà—that’s all there is to it! It’s an easy and delicious Superbowl snack, and made even more festive when served alongside yellow tortilla chips (or even better, if you have a Trader Joe’s near you, these black and gold tortilla chips!).

So that’s today’s recipe. Come back throughout this week for more Superbowl party ideas. Unless you’re a Green Bay fan, of course; there will be no green and yellow food on this blog.

Until we eat again,



Black and Gold Steelers Noodles

January 22, 2011

Who’s ready for some FOOTBAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!

For those who don’t know (I’m looking at you, Canadian readers), this Sunday is the AFC Championship game of the National Football League (that’s American football, Canadian readers). It’s between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Jets, and I am pumped—five years of living in Pittsburgh really instilled in me a deep love for their team. Perhaps it was the fact that they won two Superbowls while I was there (in the 2005 and 2008 seasons), or perhaps it was the fact that both victories caused every Pittsburgher to burn the town down (literally, unfortunately) in celebration afterwards. Whatever it was, the Steelers are my team now, and probably will be for the rest of my life (certainly for as long as I’m still living in Canada, at least (though perhaps not, if our brilliant new mayor gets his way)).

Now, I should come clean here: Although I am a fan of football, I am no football fan. I do not tune in to watch the games every week, nor do I keep up with the standings or follow any sports news. Yet still, I really enjoy watching the sport when it’s on, and I do get excited when the post-season rolls around. Now maybe you’ll say that this makes me a poseur, and I wouldn’t deny it. But that’s not going to make me stop in my enthusiasm.

So, in preparation for tomorrow’s game, I thought I’d make a celebratory dish for my team—more specifically, a “black and gold” dish, in honor of their colors. Now, I’ve actually tried doing this once before (when they one their sixth Superbowl in 2009): that was a black and gold salsa, made with black beans and yellow peppers, which wasn’t bad, but not everything I’d hoped it would be either. This time I tried going in a totally different direction with a spin on Korean jajangmyeon, which are basically noodles with a black bean sauce. Well, that’s what I think jajangmyeon is; I’ve never actually made it or tried it before, I’ve only read about it online. At any rate, I wasn’t going to able to stick to close to the letter on this one anyway, given my aims. So here’s what I did:

First, I made some black bean sauce, according to this recent recipe on Closet Cooking. While that was thickening, I caramelized some onion slices and then fried up some ramen noodles on top of that, along with one hot yellow pepper. When everything was looking good, I stirred in the black bean sauce, and when that was all combined, I threw in some frozen corn and (nicely colored) curry tofu. And then I was done!

So overall, this was a fairly simple dish to make, and it came pretty close to what I was looking for visually. Unfortunately, the black bean sauce lost some of its blackness when combined with the noodles, making it look more brown than black, but so it goes; at least the yellow of the corn and the tofu came through nicely, I thought. And most importantly, this actually turned out very tasty! I’m excited to experiment with this sauce and other things using black bean paste in the future. But for now, I just hope it brings the Steelers some good luck tomorrow. Go Steelers!

Until we eat again,



Restaurant Review: Bollywood Bistro (Guelph)

January 16, 2011

Hi all!

I’m embarrassed to see that this is my first blog post of the new year, given that January is already halfway over! But this time of year is always a bit hectic, what with all the festive celebrations, the travelling, and the new school term starting up. I’m finally getting back into the swing of things, though, and hopefully that’ll also mean getting back into the swing of more regular blogging!

Today I’m here to bring you a review of an excellent restaurant, one of if not the best Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to: Bollywood Bistro in Guelph, Ontario (about an hour outside of Toronto). I was lucky enough to get invited along with a couple of my friends last weekend, and although I was at first a little skeptical about driving for over an hour just to get some dinner, they assured me it would be worth it. And guess what? It totally was!

Bollywood Bistro is best described as a combination of perfect North Indian cooking and a more modern presentation and atmosphere. It is easiest the hippest Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to, which was a nice change of pace from the many loud, dark, and/or sketchy Indian places I’ve frequented in the past. Their menu is not gigantic, but offers a range of options, including a whole page of vegetarian entrees. They also have one of my favorite Canadian beers, Wellington, on tap! But enough talk—let me show you all the delicious food I had. First up, appetizers! Here we have some vegetable pakoras…

…then a couple of samosas…

…and finally a Dal Tadka soup!

All of these were excellent (well, I didn’t taste the samosas, but they looked pretty excellent). The soup, although it doesn’t look like much in its photo, was especially good, offering an amazing array of spices and flavors in every spoonful. After this lovely beginning, I was ready for the main course, which for me was this amazing Dal Makhni! (Can you tell I was in a soup mood this night? This is what happens when it’s -10 degrees C outside, Canada!)

Bollywood Bistro’s menu describes Dal Makhni as the following: “black lentils and red kidney beans slow cooked with spices to a delectable creamy soup garnished with butter and cream.” Anyway, this soup was wonderful! I was especially excited since this was the first time I was trying dal makhni, and it did not disappoint at all. Like my appetizer soup, this main course packed a lot of flavor, and was also deliciously creamy. And it went great with the generous (and complementary!) sides of naan and papadum as well!

My fellow diners’ entrees also looked quite excellent and seemed to satisfy, but given their non-veg status, I did not try them for myself. So here are some photos, with my best guesses as to what they were:

Salmon (pretty sure here)

Chicken Tikka Masala? (that’s what my memory is telling me)

Lamb something?! (no clue here at all)

After our mains, we could not pass up dessert. I went with my longtime favorite, Gulab Jamun (kind of like honey-soaked Indian Timbits/Doughnut holes…

…and was very happy I did. This was great! Everyone else at the table got Ras Malai (sweet paneer in cream):

And this was incredible too! I would definitely want to try this again if I went back.

UPDATE (August 2011): For anyone who’s curious, rest assured that Bollywood Bistro is also vegan friendly! Though your number of options is somewhat limited, a few of the vegetarian entrees are also vegan, and most importantly, the staff are able to advise you on what is and is not. The Bhindi Masala I had on my second visit was excellent, especially if you’re an okra fan like me. So vegans, don’t fear—Bollywood Bistro is for you, too!

So all in all, I was super pleased with Bollywood Bistro. Its only downside is that it’s in Guelph and not Toronto, but I guess that’s completely subjective and unfair of me to say. But even given its distance, it’s still definitely worth the drive. So try it out for yourself, if you happen to be one of our few readers who: (a) lives in Ontario, (b) has a car, and (c) isn’t strictly vegan and doesn’t mind having some cream and ghee sometimes.

Until we eat again,



A Japanese Farewell Dinner

December 30, 2010

Before I left Toronto for the holiday break, I unfortunately had to say goodbye to my dear Japanese roommate who had been living with me for the past several months and is now going back to Japan. Thankfully, we sent him off with a nice farewell dinner, filled with some very tasty Asian and Japanese dishes. Here’s what we had:

This is sauteed bok choy, an easy dish I’ve blogged about before which is absolutely delicious. My roommate made this for everyone, and made it nice and spicy with the addition of some chili peppers. I really think this saute brings out the flavors of the bok choy perfectly.

This simple udon dish was my contribution to the night’s meal. It’s just cooked udon topped with nori seaweed strips and sesame seeds, served alongside a shiitake dashi broth for dipping. Despite its simplicity, this dish is authentically Japanese and packs a lot of flavor, and I was happy to see that it was a big hit all around.

Finally, there’s the other dish my roommate made, what I’m calling じゃがじゃが, or jagajaga. This was a vegetarianized version of the ever-popular Japanese dish 肉じゃが, or nikujaga, which literally means “meat (niku) and potatoes (jaga, short for jagaimo)” (you can read more about it here). To make this vegetarian, my roommate simply omitted the meat and added more potatoes, hence my name jagajaga. Get it?! Anyway, all punning aside, this dish was a great success, which was extra lovely for me since I hadn’t had nikujaga or anything like it since I left Japan and stopped eating meat over three years ago.

So overall, it was a satisfying meal, although bittersweet given its occasion. This blog post goes out to you, Katsu—I hope you keep enjoying life and cooking tasty dishes like these, wherever you are. You will be missed. Until we eat again! 一緒にまた食べる日まで!



Christmas, with a little help from my friends

December 25, 2010

Happy holidays, readers!

At my house, Christmas Eve is when my immediate family gathers together for our main holiday dinner, and this year I was the family’s house-elf, responsible for planning the menu and cooking most of the food. Thankfully, I was not completely alone in this endeavor, as I had the much appreciated guidance of some of the many wonderful bloggers I follow, who give me the gift of wonderful recipes year-round. With their help, I was able to turn out a sumptuous feast of tasty and hearty—and vegan!—dishes. I don’t have much time to blog today (and you’re probably in a bit of a rush as well, if you’re reading this on Christmas Day), so here’s a quick run-down of the wonderful food we enjoyed last night.

From Cadry’s Kitchen: Asparagus Soup

I had made this before and really enjoyed it, and knew it would make a nice light start to our meal.

From Etsy: Broccoli-Stuffed Muffins

I had made these before as well, for my American Thanksgiving dinner, and my family requested them specifically after seeing them on the blog. These were just as tasty this time as they were before.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Nothing special here, just some Brussels sprouts roasted in oil, salt, and pepper. But that’s all these need to be absolutely delicious.

From Choosing Raw: Warm Mustard Dressing with Tossed Salad

This tasty and tangy dressing made for the perfect compliment for the light salad we had on the side.

From Diet, Desserts and Dogs: Vegan Tortière

For the main event, I made Ricki’s amazing vegan version of this traditional Canadian meat pie. I really can’t think of a more perfect way to cap off our holiday feast.

And that’s all I have to share for today; here’s wishing you all a happy holiday season as well!

Until we eat again,



American Thanksgiving in Canada

November 29, 2010

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, all American readers! And to all Canadian readers, Happy Belated Thursday of last week!

As you regulars will already know, Caitlin and I live in two different countries, both of which celebrate the fall holiday known as Thanksgiving—although one of which doesn’t seem to understand that it’s actually in November. This means that Caitlin and I celebrate two Thanksgiving in a year: I come down to New York over the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday and we celebrate it there, and Caitlin comes up to Toronto over the American Thanksgiving holiday and we celebrate it here. And over the past few years, as I’ve been cooking up my own Thanksgivings, this holiday has quickly been turning into one of my favorites, so I greatly enjoy having the excuse to celebrate it twice.

This year, Caitlin and I whipped up a sizable feast for ourselves and a few friends. When we were brainstorming menu ideas, Caitlin had the brilliant idea of having a Southern-style Thanksgiving meal, and I readily approved of the suggestion. This theme let us try out some really tasty recipes that Caitlin had found, all of which felt very American, if a bit untraditional for Thanksgiving (but when your Thanksgiving is already vegan, tradition is not something that you worry too much about). So here now is a run-down of our American Thanksgiving dinner! But since this meal was held in Canada, I’m obliged by the Canadian government to list all menu items in English and in French—and warning: I do not know French.

Beer-Battered Collard Green Fritters // Beignets de choux cavalier à la bière battues

As a tasty little appetizer, Caitlin fried up some collard greens in a beer batter made with the Polish beer Żywiec. I loved these: they were nicely crisp, not too greasy, and tasty! Caitlin said they worked better with Guinness, but I thought they were plenty good just as we had them.

Broccoli Stuffed Muffins // Muffins farcies avec du brocoli

Caitlin found this great recipe for broccoli stuffed muffins, which are exactly what they sound like—savory muffins with a whole broccoli floret hidden inside! (See the recipe page for more explanatory photos.) I really really liked these—they were possibly my favorite part of the night’s meal—and can’t wait to make them again.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts // Choux de Bruxelles rôtis

This was probably the least Southern item on our menu, but it’s Thanksgiving, and what better time is there to enjoy a heaping platter of tasty roasted Brussels sprouts? We kept this one pretty simple, tossing these little cabbages in some oil, salt, and pepper and letting the oven do the rest, but they still were great in my book.

Mac & Cheese // Mac au fromage

Is mac and cheese Southern? Is mac and cheese Thanksgiving-y? I don’t know and I don’t care, because this mac and cheese recipe really is to die for. (As the Recipezaar recipe title says, it’s the “best vegan mac and cheese ever”, and it’s right.)Caitlin and I had made this macaroni recipe before and loved it, and we thought it would be a simple way to fill out our menu, and surprisingly, it was the biggest hit of the evening—extra surprisingly, since none of our guests were vegans, and I was not expecting them to take to the nootch-y flavor of this pasta platter. I guess it’s just all the more evidence that this really is an amazing mac and cheese recipe.

Mole Skillet Pie with Greens // Tarte poêle taupé avec les verts

Our centerpiece of the evening was this skillet pie, which we did not actually cook in a skillet (due to lack of skillet). The recipe came from the Veganomicon, and was basically a mix of greens (we used kale) stirred up with some beans and chili-chocolate mole sauce, and then topped off with a layer of cornbread. It was a fun main, which I really enjoyed. And to get a better picture of what it all looked like under the cornbread, here’s a photo of my full plate:

I love Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well (or, for you Canadians, a pleasant weekend). I’ll be back soon.

Until we eat again,



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers

%d bloggers like this: