Recipe: Tempeh Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

This recipe came from the April 2011 issue of Cooking Light magazine.  I’ve been experimenting lately with meat alternatives and found this dish to be fairly easy to place together and quite delicious.


Peanut Sauce:

1/4 cup water

1 tbls brown sugar

3 tbls natural style chunky peanut butter (for best results check the ingredients  –it should contain peanuts and salt only, nothing else)

1 tsp Sriracha (hot chile sauce)

1 tsp lower sodium soy sauce

Stir Fry Ingredients:

2 tsps brown sugar

5 tsps lower sodium soy sauce

1 tsp Sriracha

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tbsp, plus 2 tsps sesame oil, divided

1 (8 oz) package of organic tempeh, cut into 1/3 inch strips (I found tempeh at Whole Foods but you can substitute firm tofu if needed)

2 cups thinly sliced carrots

1 cup (2-inch) strips red bell pepper

1 pound of green beans, trimmed (I chose frozen but either will do)

1/2 cup of water

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, divided

6 oz mung bean sprouts

To prepare peanut sauce, combine 1/2 cup water, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 3 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tsp Sriracha, and 1 tsp of soy sauce in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk (mixture will become smooth).  Set aside.

To prepare stir fry, combine 2 tsps sugar, 5 tsps soy sauce, 1 tsp Sriracha, and garlic in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tbsp sesame oil to the pan, swirling to coat.  Add tempeh and half of soy sauce mixture; stir-fry for 5 minutes or until tempeh is golden brown.  Remove tempeh mixture from pan and keep warm.  Add remaining 2 tsps oil to pan, swirling to coat.

Add carrot, bell pepper, and green beans to pan; stir-fry 3 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of water; reduce heat to medium.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender.  Stir in remaining half of soy sauce mixture, tempeh mixture, half of onions, and bean sprouts; cook for 2 minutes or until bean sprouts are tender.  Serve with peanut sauce and remaining half of onion.

Yields 4 – 2 cup servings.  Use 2 tablespoons of peanut sauce per each serving. 

Viola!  You have yourself an incredibly tasty home cooked vegetarian meal!

Days of Warmth, Weasels and Will Power

The cold snap seems to have left us for now.  Temps over the weekend gradually increased which was great.  The temp on my computer reads  69 F.  I’ll take it!  Last week I only left the house to go to work.  I did not go to the gym or anywhere else.  I was just too darn cold!  When the ice formed on the side of the house I did a double-take.  I’ve never seen ice here.  Sure, some chilly mornings there may have been frost on the windshield but nothing like this.  A lot of people in this area have running fountains in their yards.  These froze over too creating icicles off the sides.  A client of mine told me she had people stopping in front of her house to take pictures of her frozen fountain.  In her 50 years here she had never seen anything like it.

The Weasel seems to be doing better.  She constantly amazes me with her sheer will.  Having a beloved pet is somewhat like having a child I’ve heard, accept you watch them grow up and get old before you do.  Her hind legs some days seem to want to give out and other days she gets around just fine.  Last week while making my lunch in the kitchen she came in to explore.  I could tell she was having a bit of difficulty this day with her hind legs.  They would stretch out behind her as she walked.  Yet this didn’t stop her from exploring.  Keep in mind that she in now completely blind.  She could feel the cool wrought iron of the wine rack and the smoothness of the bottle within it’s holdings.  Her whiskers guided her around the base boards.  I kept thinking that any minute now she would head back to her sleep area but no.  She had too much to do.  She even chased the dog out of the kitchen!  Not too shabby. 

The Weasel 'Watering Hole' - aka: The Shower

Yesterday she hoisted herself into the shower stall to get a drink when I was done in there.  Then she poked around the bathroom cabinets trying to find her way in.  Let me tell you, I stand in awe of this animal.  With everything she has gone through she shouldn’t still be here among us, but she is.  She is such a little fighter.

Lately I’ve been really making an effort to cook for myself at night.  Hubby sometimes will work nights so I had gotten into the rut of preparing a can of soup or something else equally easy but boring.  Its been a bit of a challenge.  I’m more into baking things.  I did some of that, too.  I had a recipe for these oat muffins too, where you soak the oats in buttermilk.  These made a great healthy breakfast last week.  This week I’m trying my hand at baked sweet potato chips.  Its been kind of fun to search for different ingredients at the grocery store  and to try more things.  In some ways I feel like by doing this I’m really taking care of myself.  It’s like a gift I give myself.  Every day I go to the website and record what I eat.  I love to see the report at the end of the day and I’m constantly fine tuning it.  One of my new favorites is Greek yogurt.  It has such a creamy texture.  I mix it in with kiwi and some artificial sweetener. 

This week I’m going meatless for dinner and have been eating Morningstar Farm’s black bean burger.  It’s actually pretty good.  If nothing else this new eating regime has gotten me to expand my menu.  That’s never a bad thing. 

Bootcamp was supposed to begin this past Saturday but when I called last week to sign up they told me that the class had been canceled.  Bummer.  In some ways I was relieved though because Saturday was still pretty chilly and the class is outdoors.  I’ve become a big wimp when it comes to chilly weather.

Well, I’m off to give a data base class.  Hope you are all having a great week so far!

November Bake Quest #1 – Bacon & Blue Cheese Dinner Pie w/Pears

This was incredibly easy to make and very tasty and filling.   The recipe called for tart apples but I substituted pears instead as I think they go better with blue cheese.  This came from the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.


  • Six slices of bacon
  • 1 8.5oz pkg. corn muffin mix
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 pears (recipe called for 3 Granny Smith apples), cored, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • Fresh thyme (optional)

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a skillet cook bacon until crisp.  Drain; reserve 1 tablespoon of the drippings.  Chop bacon.

2.)Meanwhile, in a bowl combine muffin mix, flour, chili powder, egg, and milk.  Divide dough into four portions.  Place portions on a greased baking sheet and press to 6 to 7 inch circles.

3.) Top each circle with a layer of apple slices, leaving a 1-inch border.  Fold edges around apple or pear slices.  Brush apples and crust with reserved bacon drippings.

4.) Bake 10 minutes.  Top with blue cheese and bacon; bake 5 to 7 minutes more until edges are golden and the bottom of crust is set.

Substitute: Use leftover shredded chicken or crumbled cooked sausage in place of the bacon. 

     *Note: Even though I had folded the edges up before baking, they flattened out while cooking.  Not sure what I need to do differently to keep that from happening but thought it was worth mentioning.

Recipe: Fruit Crisp

 While I feel like I did take the easy way out in regards to this month’s Bake Quest, I did add these two pears to a recipe I made on Saturday for a family get together.  I’m not going to include this as a Bake Quest submission.

This recipe was given to me almost 20 years ago from someone at a church I belonged to back in Berlin, MA.  The girl I knew then, Christine, had made this recipe with strawberry and rhubarb.  I have changed the fruit to go with the seasons.  I would also like to add that I found out months later that Christine and I both had a first cousin in common.  My Mom later pulled out baby pictures of Christine and I as we were both born in the same year.  Talk about  a small world!  The entire time we were both parishioners at the same church and we had no idea of our familiar connection.

Here is the recipe for the Fruit Crisp that has been a family favorite for years:


  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour, plus 2 Tbs (divided)
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 cups of diced fruit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine oatmeal, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of flour.  Mix well.  Add margarine.  Use a dough blender to mix until it resembles a course meal.  Pat 2/3rds into a 9 x 9 baking pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.  In another bowl combine fruit with 2 Tbsps of flour and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Mix thoroughly.  Spread fruit evenly over top of baked crust.  Then take the rest of the crust ingredients and place on top of fruit mixture.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

 This recipe can be doubled (see picture below).  Any variety of baking fruits can be used.  In addition to pears I used Granny Smith apples, raspberries, blueberries and frozen cranberries.  The cranberries provide a nice contrast to the other sweet fruits.  I only use one cup of those.  They also add a festive touch for the holidays.

I have to admit that this apple peeler, corer and slicer is one of the best inventions known to man.  When making anythig with diced apples it saves so much time.  This one came from The Pampered Chef years ago.  I love it!

Here is the finished product:

Baking Up A Storm

Something has really gotten into me lately.  It must be the cooler weather.  It may be Fall here but we have our own version of it here in the desert.  It is also referred to as ‘Summer Lite’.  One can cook comfortably in the kitchen without sweating one’s butt off and one can leave the door open without freezing one’s butt off.  It’s a win-win situation in the Fall.  After burning all those calories at the race Saturday morning, I decided to try my hand at making a recipe for Apple Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes.  I found this on a blog located here:  This was originally posted from Paula Dean’s website.  OKay, I have to admit these are quite possibly the best things I have ever tasted.  The recipe says that it yields 24.  Let’s say I had a little trouble in math and ended up with 12 jumbo cupcakes instead.  No one seem to mind though!

After these cook you make an icing from powdered sugar and apple cider.  To die for!   Hubby was in the cooking mood as well.  He roasted tomatillos, garlic, tomatoes, onions and peppers, and created a green salsa.  He hand roasted these over a grill in our backyard and I kicked myself later for not getting a picture of this process. 

As if this wasn’t enough, I also needed to try Kim’s Butternut Apple Ginger soup.  See the recipe here:

It was absolutely delicious!  To accompany it  I made Cheddar Garlic biscuits from a basic biscuit recipe that I doctored up some.

Here is the recipe for the biscuits:


  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening (I used veggie oil)
  • 2/3 cup of milk

(*Optional: garlic infused butter) 

Preheat over to 450 degrees.  Grease a baking sheet.  Mix dry ingredients. Add the garlic and the cheese.  Cut in vegetable shortening using two butter knives or a dough blender until the mixture resembles course meal.  Add the milk all at once and stir until the dough forms a ball.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 14 times.  (The recipe calls for it to be rolled out to 1/4 inch and then cut with a round cookie cutter.  I did not do this.  With a wooden spoon I scooped out the mixture and dropped it onto the baking sheet).  Once that was complete, I used a little garlic infused butter my husband had made the night before to top them before baking.  It was really good!  Here is the recipe for that below:

*Butter Infused Garlic


  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce

Melt butter in a small saucepan or skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and stir until garlic becomes translucent.  Remove from heat and add Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce.  Mix well.  Using a pastry brush, top biscuits with the butter.

Bake biscuits for  12 minutes or until tops are golden brown.  Yields 16 biscuits.

(The basic biscuit recipe came from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook published in 1979.  The garlic infused butter is my husband’s own creation).

A Quick Review

Saturday I got up and drove down to Tucson to the Sonoran Desert Museum where I was meeting Maureen for a fun day of picture taking and conversation.  Unfortunately my only means of picture taking as of late has been through the use of my cell phone, and wouldn’t you know it that when I was out walking the dog earlier that morning, I dropped the phone and it has not functioned well since.

Irregardless of that, Maureen I know got some great shots.  It was a warm day without being too hot and we meandered through the different areas looking at different animals and plants indigenous to the desert.  Here are few of the shots I got.  I’m only going to post a few because Maureen’s will be amazing (also, my camera was not functioning very well).

This is a saguaro cactus.  I liked the fact that it has so many arms.  Sometimes they resemble people posing.

This little guy stationed himself up in a tree in the aviary.  His foot must be quite tasty!

It was so great meeting Maureen.  She is the first person I have ever met through blogging.  She is very knowledgeable on the different plants and animals and I learned so much.  I learned much about photography, too!  Before leaving for Tucson, it was discovered that we left the charger to the good digital camera back on a trip to Boston.  I definitely need to get a new one.  I’m missing out on way too much fun!

Maureen gave me a few notecards with pictures of her horse photography on them.  That was so incredibly kind!  One I recognize from her blog.  It is the close up of the horse’s face that has the blue eye.  Love it!  She also happen to have a spare printer that she needed to get rid of.  I was happy to take it off her hands because the food pantry I work at desperately needed one.  Thanks Maureen!

On Sunday I tried the Pumpkin Pie bites featured on Zoom’s blog.  They were absolutely delicious!  If you love pumpkin pie and cheesecake, this is a combination of both.  I have a picture of the finished product here.  The only thing I was supposed to do and didn’t was to cook only 12 at once, alternating muffin cups to prevent the crusts from sticking together.  This wasn’t too much of a problem though.

These were absolutely delicious.  Every Christmas I make an assortment of cookies and I think these will be added to my cookie making repertoire.  Thanks Zoom!

Recipe:Butternut Squash Casserole

Warning!  This dish is addictive.  A friend of my Mom’s started making this at Thanksgiving years ago and it has become a family favorite.  When I got married a few years back, I was given a scrap-book/cookbook that included this great recipe.  If you do decide to try it, make sure to have a few recipe cards filled out.  I get more requests for this than anything else.  The squash is pureed and then baked with something similar to a pecan pie topping.  It tastes like a side dish desert and is absolutely wonderful for this time of the year.


     3 cups mashed butternut squash 
     1/2 cup of milk
     1/2 cup of butter
     1 cup of sugar
     1 tsp. of vanilla
     2 beaten eggs

     1 cup of sweetened flake coconut
     1 cup of chopped pecans
     1 cup of brown sugar
     1/2 cup of flour
     1/3 cup of butter

Preheat over to 350. Mix all the ingredients above with an electric mixer and then place in a casserole dish (mixture will be somewhat soupy).

In a separate bowl, mix together the topping ingredients. A dough blender works best. Once thoroughly mixed, add topping to the casserole and bake for 35 minutes until set.

I usually double the recipe if I’m cooking for a large group, but not the topping as there is plenty.

Thanks To Kim For This Great Fall Recipe!

After seeing this on Kim’s blog the other day, I decided to try it.  Anything with apple, maple syrup, walnuts and a few other scrumptious ingredients enfolded into a pie crust is sure to be good!  This was really easy to place together and let me tell you that the smell of it baking in the house was absolutely wonderful!  This picture above of course is before it went into the oven (Notice my ancient Pampered Chef pizza stone?).  Since half of this is gone already I didn’t bother to take an after picture.   It was magnificent though if I do say so myself!  For the recipe, see the link to Kim’s blog below:

Recipe: Brie & Green Apple Empanadas

Yesterday I started channeling my inner Rachel Ray and got a little creative in the kitchen.  Maybe it was the recent full moon.  Anyways, during this time of the year I start to crave comfort foods.  I paid no mind to the fact that the high yesterday was 107 degrees F and still turned the oven on.  Wishful thinking?  I’d say so.

This was an experiment of sorts.  I had read about a recipe using goat cheese and where hubby is not a big fan of goat cheese, I decided to implement using brie cheese and green apples.

I bought a pre-made pie crust, wedge of brie, and a few green apples for this experiment.  Hubby appreciated being the guinea pig for this.  Here is the picture of the dough laid out.  I have a biscuit cutter that I purchased years ago from the Pampered Chef.  In addition to cutting round circles in the dough, it also perforated the edges which makes it easier to seal once the dough is stuffed and folded in half. 


Below is the first pass.  At first I didn’t want to use the oven given how hot its been here.  These were actually baked in the toaster oven.  They were a bit doughy.  The flavor of the dough seem to overpower the ingredients.  Hubby suggested that I baste them with butter and sprinkle on some cinnamon and sugar.  That apparently is how his mother makes her empanadas.  

So back off to the kitchen I went.  Here is the final product.  They were quite good.  The butter made the dough turn flaky and the cinnamon and sugar accentuated the tartness of the apple and the texture of the brie.  The dough flavor this time did not overpower the filling.  The next pass at this will include phyllo dough instead of pie crust.  I’ll post the results and see if there is any difference in the flavor and texture.

 Here is the recipe:

  • 1 refrigerated pre-made pie crust (should contain 2 pie crusts)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 wedge of brie cheese
  • 2 tbls of butter or margarine
  • sugar & cinnamon for sprinkling

Pre-heat the over to 350 degrees F.  Roll the dough out on a flat surface.  With either a round cookie of biscuit cutter (the top of a drinking glass will do the trick as well) press into dough.  Sliver the green apple into matchstick shapes.  Thinly slice the brie and add both a sliver of apple and cheese to one half of the cut out dough.  Fold in half and press edges with a fork.  Roll out excess dough with a rolling pin and cut out as many round dough circles as able.  Repeat this process until all dough is used.  Once empanadas are all stuffed, place on a flat baking sheet.  Melt butter in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Use a basting brush and apply liberally to the tops of empanadas.  Sprinkle sugar & cinnamon over top.  Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  Turn once during cooking.  Cool for 10 minutes and the serve.

Brie and apple can also be substituted with pie filling (which I may try next).  This was pretty easy to do.  Where the holidays are coming up, I’m always looking for new things that are easy to make and that friends may enjoy.  Next weekend I’m going to do this same recipe using the phyllo dough instead of pie crust.  We’ll see how that works.