Making a Recipe Your Own

I love following recipes when I want to try new dishes; but I also love adding my own tweaks to them if I feel it’s warranted.  Quite often when I make a recipe for the first time I follow it to a ‘T’, then I make adjustments in future renditions.  Tonight was different; I let my creative side come out!  I made a recipe from the Forks Over Knives App-Spaghetti with roasted tomatoes, chickpeas and basil. In stead of cherry tomatoes I used a combination of mini San Marzano and small heirloom tomatoes.  I put a little fresh salted minced garlic on top of each tomato half.  Once the pasta and tomatoes were cooked, I added sundried tomatoes, capers, and some chopped spinach.  Then I added the required chickpeas and basil.  I LOVED the additions!  To be honest, I would not put chickpeas in the next rendition…maybe cannellini beans instead.  The little garlic roasted tomatoes were so very yummy.  My husband gave it a two thumbs up and definitely wants it put on the make again list.

So do be afraid to try different things when you make a new recipe. I find pasta is very forgiving and you really can’t go wrong with whatever you add.

Bon Appetite!


Farfalle with Brocoli, Peas and Sundried Tomatoes and a busy Sunday

I made up a great pasta dish tonight that will definitely be repeated in my house.  I took my inspiration from The Vegan Corner which has a pasta recipe that includes brocoli and peas.  The recipe seemed a bit lacking in the flavor profile so I added some more veggies and made a light sauce for it.  My husband doesn’t like white creamy sauces, so I had to make this one light.  We both really enjoyed it.  I didn’t really measure anything so my measurements are approximations, but pasta is a dish that you can’t really mess up, in my opinion.  

I also made the Chickpea omelette for breakfast from Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (Ann and Jane Esselysten).  It was quite yummy and filling.  I also made more yummy ‘bowls’ for lunches this week…I think I have more vegetables than greens! I’m looking forward to eating them this week!

Enjoy the pasta!

Farfalle with Brocoli, Peas and Sundried Tomatoes


2-3 cups dry Farfalle pasta

2 Cups brocoli florets (blanched under warm water)

1 cup frozen peas, defrosted

1/2 cup julienned Sundried tomatoes *no oil  (soaked in hot water, save liquid)

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

3 green onion tops, sliced (greens only)

3/4 cup chopped artichoke quarters

1 lemon zested

1-2 tbs lemon juice

1/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup pasta water

1 tbs minced mint

1 tbs minced parsley

1-2 tbs nutritional yeast

Pine nuts


  1. Cook pasta until aldente, reserving about 1/2 cup of the water.  Set aside.
  2. Heat up pan and add the wine.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until wine is reduced by about half.  Add some of the liquid from the Sundried tomatoes (maybe 2 tbs). 
  3. Add the green onions and stir.  
  4. Add nutritional yeast and lemon juice and stir then immediately add the pasta and toss to mix the sauce with the pasta.  Add more liquid (pasta water and Sundried tomato liquid).
  5. Add Brocoli, peas, artichokes and Sundried tomatoes and toss to combine.  Turn off the heat and add the mint, parsley and lemon zest.  
  6. Top with pine nuts and toss to blend everything.

Farfalle with Brocoli, Peas and Sundried Tomatoes  
Chickpea and veggie omlette 

 My veggie bowl


Quick and Easy Tomato Pasta Prima Vera

Part of my job requires me to oversee classes for our hourly shift leaders 2-3 times a year.  Because a lot of these kids are in high school or college, or have other jobs, we hold classes on Saturdays.  I’ve just finished my last class for the spring. In the past 3 1/2 months I’ve worked 10 Saturdays…it’s been pretty intense to say the least.  Because there is always work to do, I don’t usually take a whole day off during the week.  I end up trying to cram two days of weekend into one day on Sunday which can get kind of crazy sometimes. Some Saturdays my husband and I will go out to dinner after class, but that can get expensive not only on the checkbook but also the waistline! I decided I would throw together a quick pasta dish for dinner when I got home.  I created it in my mind while I was working out this morning! It’s amazing how much I find myself thinking about food and recipes!

This is a pretty easy dish to put together in a short amount of time.  I cooked the noodles this morning which helped a lot.  If you had veggies cut up ahead of time, this would REALLY be quick.  This dish also makes for great leftovers!  As always, my measurements are estimates since I did not measure anything.  The key is to use about the same amount of ingredients so no one veggie takes over the dish.  You can make it gluten free and use brown rice or quinoa noodles if you like.  It’a a great flavor packed whole food plant based dish with no added oil.  Enjoy!

Kirsten’s Quick and Easy Tomato Pasta Prima Vera


1 box (16oz ) whole wheat or gluten free noodles, cooked according to directions

1 small onion cut into small quarters

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 Green pepper, cut into one inch size pieces

1/3 Red pepper, cut into one inch size pieces

1/3 Yellow Pepper, cut into one inch size pieces

1/3 small yellow squash, sliced (1/4″) and cut in half (so you have half moon shapes

1/3 small zucchini squash, sliced (1/4 “) and cut in half (so you have half moon shapes)

3 medium/large mushrooms cut into quarters (or a little smaller if your mushrooms are big)

1 14 oz canned of tomatoes (no salt)

Tomato powder or paste, about 1-2 TBS

Fresh spinach (A big handful)

Basil (I used dried) 1-2 tsp

Red Pepper flakes (1 tsp or so)

Vegetable broth (low or no sodium) 1-3 TBS

Veggie Parmesan/bread crumb mix (I use Nutritional yeast, cashews and bread crumbs blended in a coffee grinder-you can use cracker crumbs also)


  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Heat your pan over medium heat and add some veggie broth (about 1 Tbs) and add the onions to soften.  Add the garlic and half the red pepper flakes and some of the basil and stir to soften the garlic (be careful not to burn the garlic, you may need to add more broth).
  3. Add the peppers and squashes and a little broth and stir to saute until they start to soften.
  4. Add the mushrooms an let them soften a bit. 
  5. Add the tomatoes and some tomato powder and stir to blend everything together.  Add more basil and hot pepper flakes.  
  6. Add the spinach and stir until it starts to wilt.  Remove from heat.
  7. Combine the pasta and veggies in a big bowl and stir gently to mix together.  Pour this into a good sized baking dish and top with the veggie parmesan mix.  Sprinkle a little more basil over the top.  
  8. Bake uncovered for about 10-15 minutes until top starts to get crusty and you can hear it bubble.
  9. Serve with some good crusty whole grained bread.


How Do You Eat Spaghetti?

I like to twirl mine with a spoon.  I learned that many, MANY years ago from my mom and dad.  Mom’s spaghetti and meat sauce was a treat every time we had it.  I loved twirling my noodles on my spoon, then eating all the leftover sauce after all the noodles were gone. I’ve never outgrown twirling my noodles on a spoon.  My husband likes to cut up his noodles, which is a more practical way to eat them, but in my opinion, not as much fun!

Tonight I made a yummy comfort meal for us.  I found a vegetarian veggie ‘meatball’ recipe a few years ago that I’ve tweaked along the way.  The recipe comes from the Cookin Canuck:  She uses egg which I do not, but flax meal mixed with water is an easy substitute.  I made a few other modifications which you’ll see and I think they are tasty.  The ‘meat’ balls tend to fall apart in sauce, so I put mine in at the last few minutes before I’m ready to serve them.   They make for a very filling dish.  I of course had fun twirling my spaghetti noodles with this dish!

Cannellini Bean Vegetarian “Meatballs” with Tomato
Yield: Serves 4
Adapted from the kitchen of Cookin Canuck.
1 1⁄2 cans (15 oz. each) Bush’s Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed (or half can black or
kidney beans)
1 roasted red bell pepper (2 halves), roughly chopped
1⁄2 medium yellow onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 1⁄2 tsp dried oregano
Crushed fennel
Tomato powder (tsp or so)* optional
Paprika (dash)
1 tbs flx/3tbs water
Nutritional yeast (1/4 cup or less)
1 to 1 1/2 cups ground oat flour (grind oats in the food processor until finely ground)
1⁄2 tsp kosher salt or less
1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 cups marinara sauce (your favorite kind)
Vegan Parmesan cheese for grating
Cooked spaghetti
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans and roasted red peppers. Pulse until
chopped, but not smoothly pureed.
3. Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and stir in grated onion, garlic, parsley,
oregano, flaxmeal/water combo, ground oats, spices salt and pepper until well combined.
4. Using a rounded 2 tablespoon portion of the bean mixture, form “meatballs” by rolling
between the palms of your hands. Place the “meatballs” on the prepared baking sheet,
spacing evenly.  I place mine in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.  I also coated them in a light coating of seasoned breadcrumbs before baking.

5. Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and have developed a light golden brown  coating, 25-30

6. In a large saucepan, heat you favorite marinara sauce over medium heat until simmering.
Add “meatballs” and stir to coat. Simmer until the sauce thicken

s slightly, stirring
occasionally, less than 5 minutes.
7. Serve over spaghetti and top with vegan parmesan cheese.

My Marinara Sauce:


1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes

1 head of garlic minced (this takes the most time)

crushed red peppers

dried basil to taste

1/4 cup chianti or other dark red wine

veggie broth


1.  Saute garlic and red pepper flakes  over low heat until garlic starts to get soft and fragrant, be careful not to burn the garlic.

2.  Add the tomatoes and stir until blended.  Cover and cook over low heat about an hour.  I add the red wine about 30 minutes in and use a potato masher to mash up the tomatoes a bit.

3. Add the basil near the end of cooking.

Vegan Parmesan “cheese”

This is not my recipe, but it’s a very common recipe out there.

Grind equal parts of nutritional yeast and cashews in a coffee/spice grinder until well blended.  Store in refrigerator.

Here’s a photo of dinner: