vegetarian shepherd’s pie

October 3, 2010

Adapted from both Vegetarian Cooking & Vegetable Classics and this recipe.


  • ~2lbs potatoes or 5 medium potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons or so of butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into small slices
  • ~6 cups of mixed vegetables, chopped into small pieces (I used carrots, green peppers, zucchini, peas, and corn)
  • 2 15oz cans of lentils
  • 1 16oz can of vegetable broth
  • Chili powder to taste
  • Dried basil (or whatever herbs you want) to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Bread crumbs (optional)


>>Preheat oven to 350

1) Boil the potatoes in the skins until soft. Drain, then peel and mash the potatoes. You can make them however you normally make mashed potatoes. I put mine in the food processor with 1/4 cup of milk and a couple of tablespoons of butter. Be careful not to over mash, or they get very, very sticky. I added some dried basil to my potatoes.

2) Place the 6 cups of vegetables, plus the onion, into a large pot. Add the 1/4 cup of oil (you might not need that much) until they are well-coated. Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until they are soft.

3) Stir in the lentils, then add the vegetable stock. Add whatever spices/herbs you want to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes.

4) Pour the contents of the pot (veggies, lentils, stock) into a 9×13 glass baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top. If you want, you can sprinkle bread crumbs on top.

5) Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

low fat corn bread

September 30, 2010

I created this recipe (it’s pretty awesome!), though I did look at a few basic cornbread recipes to get my barrings. I didn’t realize until afterward that most cornbread recipes use oil, so this version is low fat too!


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup non-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can of corn (I use “no salt added”) — you could also use fresh or frozen!


>>Preheat oven to 400

>>Grease a 9×9 baking pan

1) In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda).

2) Add the milk, yogurt, and eggs. Use an electric mixture to combine.

3) Drain the corn (if using canned) and stir in with a spoon.

4) Pour batter into greased pan and cook for approximately 25 minutes. (You can stick a toothpick in–if it comes out clean, you’re all set!)

black bean & salsa soup

September 30, 2010

This recipe is so, so simple. I made this after David and I had just returned home from three days of camping. I was tired and dirty, but this took hardly any time or effort. It’s really good, too! (We liked it even more the next day.) I didn’t take any photos, but I promise to make this again soon and post a photo!

I can no longer find the recipe I based this off of, but there are a lot of similar recipes out there.


  • Four 15oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 cups of salsa
  • 1 15oz can of vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • Diced green onions (optional)
  • Plain non-fat yogurt or sour cream (optional)


>>Makes ~6 servings

1) In a food processor, mash/blend two of the cans of black beans with 1/4 cup of water

2) In a pot, combine the mashed black beans, the two cans of unmashed beans, the salsa, the vegetable broth, and the chili powder.

3) Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally.

4) Serve the soup with green onion slices on top, along with a scoop or two of yogurt! (You could also serve with cornbread!)

Acadia National Park

September 30, 2010

David and I spent last weekend in Bar Harbor, ME at Acadia National Park. We camped in the park at Blackwoods Campground. The campground was so empty (and peaceful)! The ranger told us when we arrived that he had over 200 empty sites. There was no one at any of the sites near us.

The ocean in Maine isn’t like the ocean anywhere else.

raspberry white chocolate cheesecake, with a chocolate crust

September 30, 2010

This was my mom’s birthday cake this year. It may be the best dessert I’ve made yet! (I think that the second time I make it, it will look a little more pretty.)

I got this recipe from here, and only made a couple of changes.


  • Chocolate graham cracker crumbs (you need 1 cup, which is approximately 10 of the full length sheets of graham crackers)
  • 1/2 cup, plus 5 tablespoons sugar (will be split)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 10oz package of frozen raspberries
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 cups of white chocolate chips (one 12oz bag)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3 8oz packages of low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


1) In a food processor, blend the graham crackers until they are thin crumbs. Measure to make sure you have one cup.

2) Add 3 tablespoons of sugar and the butter to the mix. Blend until well combined.

3) Press this mixture (the crust) into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan.

4)  Defrost the raspberries until they are soft (you could just leave them out, but I put mine in the microwave).

5) Put the raspberries into the food processor until smooth.

6) In a pot, put the raspberries (now blended), the 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil and continue cooking for approximately 5 minutes. The sauce should thicken a little bit.

7) Push the raspberry sauce through a mesh strainer, to remove the seeds.

8) Preheat the oven to 325.

9) In a double boiler, or in the microwave, melt the white chocolate chips with the half and half. Stir occasionally, until the chips are completely melted.

10) In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sugar using an electric mixer. Add the eggs, followed by the vanilla and melted chocolate/half and half.

11) Pour half of the cheesecake batter into the springform pan. Pour 3-4 tablespoons of raspberry sauce over the top. Pour the remaining cheesecake batter on top. Then pour 3-4 more tablespoons of raspberry sauce on top. Using a knife, swirl the raspberry sauce throughout the cake. This will give it a pretty marbled effect.

12) Bake for approximately an hour, or until the cake has set.

13) When you cake it out, allow the pan to cool. Cover the cake and refrigerate it for at least 8 hours before taking it out of the pan.

14) Serve with the remaining raspberry sauce! (I put it in a bowl and let people pour it on top of their individual pieces.)

Mom’s birthday — surprise!

September 30, 2010

To celebrate the arrival of my mom’s last year as a 50-something, we threw her a surprise party. It’s now been a couple of weeks, but I just uploaded the pictures from my camera. I think the look on her face is pretty outstanding.

I love surprises.

Oh, and you should check out the recipe for her cake.

apple crisp

September 17, 2010

I went apple picking with my mom last Friday at Brookdale Farm. Apples right off the tree taste nothing like what you buy at the grocery store. They are so crisp and fresh!

Over the weekend, I made apple crisp. I would pick apple crisp over apple pie any day! I’ve spent a couple of apple crisp seasons tweaking this recipe and making it better.
>>Preheat oven to 350



  • 8-10 medium apples
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 tablespoon cinnamon


  • 1 3/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) melted butter


1) Peel and slice the apples. Spread the apples out evenly into a 9×13″ glass baking dish.

2) Toss the apples in the sugar and cinnamon. I used a full tablespoon of cinnamon, but it might be too much for some.

3) Mix the oats, brown sugar, flour, and melted butter together. The oats should be moistened.

4) Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples. Press the topping down gently to keep the moisture of the apples in while it bakes.

5) Cook for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

Serve with vanilla ice cream!

lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting

September 17, 2010

I made this cake for my grandfather’s birthday in July. (I know, I’m really behind in posting…)

I based it off of this cake, but made some changes and used a different frosting.



  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest


  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2-4 tablespoons lemon juice (Be careful, if you add too much lemon juice the frosting will get very runny, like mine did. It’s hard to thicken back up! Add slowly.)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 5-6 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 lemon for decoration


>>Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 8-inch round pans.

1) Cream together the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.

2) Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

3) Add the flour and baking powder.

4) Add the milk, lemon juice, and zest, but don’t beat long after they’ve been incorporated.

5) Pour the batter into the pans and bake for 30 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean. Move the cakes to a cooling rack.

6) To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.

7) Add the confectioners sugar, beating in 2 1/2 cups, then adding the other 2 1/2 cups. Add more lemon juice or sugar as needed.

8) Spread the frosting on the top of one of the cakes (this will be the middle layer). Place the other cake on top. Frost the top of that cake.

9) Add very thin lemon slices to decorate, if desired. You could also sprinkle extra lemon zest on top (I thought of this afterward.)


August 3, 2010

David and I now officially live in Cambridge! I love it. We live in Inman Square, which has lots of shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s also a short walk to Central Square, and we’ve walked to Harvard Square a couple of times already too. I love it. I’ll post some photos as soon as more of these boxes are unpacked…

Tomorrow we leave for Los Angeles! I’ll be there two weeks and David will be there three weeks, since he’s attending Typecon after our vacation. I’m so excited to spend time with David’s family. We’re also planning a trip to Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Yosemite National Park.

I’m also beginning to gear up for returning to school. I sent my principal the course description for my 11th/12th grade English elective yesterday:

Science Fiction & Dissent

In this course we will explore the genre of science fiction by looking at the relationship between literature, technology, science, and politics. In works of science fiction, authors frequently imagine worlds that do not yet exist in order to express political and social dissent. We will analyze how science fiction helps us to better understand issues in contemporary society. We will grapple with questions such as: How should we live and what are the consequences of the choices we make? Should we fear laws and regulations, or are they necessary for society to function? How does technology help and harm us? How much do individual choices shape our lives? Who suffers the most in our society? How do we find a balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the community?

The reading list will include numerous short stories along with novels such as Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, Anthem by Ayn Rand, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. We will also explore, analyze, and write about films such as Gattaca, Blade Runner, and The Matrix.

The class will be reading and creative-writing intensive; the majority of classes will be spent discussing the texts we are reading and completing writing workshops. Students will work throughout the semester on a major creative writing piece — a science fiction story that conveys their own political dissent.

As the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, WA states, the “dreams and nightmares” in science fiction works “have something important to teach us.”

come alive

July 26, 2010

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Dr. Howard Thurman