Category Archives: Home Cooking

Happy Birthday Dear

Joe’s Favorite Things


Today is my wonderful husband’s birthday – and so I’m celebrating him with a post featuring all of his favorite foods.  I’ve been cooking for him since before we were dating, at the time just trying to help out a coworker who was living on hummus sandwiches and veggie burgers.  Cooking has always been a big part of my life, and with his support, and willingness to taste test, Dancing Veggies was born.  Things haven’t exactly been easy over the past year (silly troll uterus) but my husband has been there for it all – equipped with Vitamin Water and ice cream – which is why today is all about him.


When Joe and I first moved in together he brought a few cookbooks with him, including a number of the Moosewood series.  In one of those books was a recipe for Yellow Rice with Curry Beans – something he made for me a few times when I was late getting home due to yoga.  I started tweaking it early on, which eventually resulted in this Curry Bean and Rice Dish.  Every time I make this dish I immediately flash back to those early days – and how hard it was to add the pineapples to the dish before he snatched them up!!!

Caramel Potatoes

Apparently this Coffee Cake is how one of Joe’s sisters “knew” he was going to be well taken care of.  It takes some early morning planning but the end result is worth it.  Amazingly enough these  caramelized potatoes are also on the list – along with creme brulee (another Joe birthday post!).  It’s almost as if my other half has a thing for caramel…tho that would explain why the homemade dulce de leche never lasts!

Avocado Tomato Grilled Cheese

However while he might love caramel, his favorite food group (yes, group) is easily CHEESE!  I once made a comment about going vegan and there were no comments regarding the missing eggs, or milk, but rather extreme concern about the potential for no more cheesy dinners.  Which is why at least one meal a week includes a fair amount of this special diary product to include: Avocado Tomato Grilled Cheese, Caprese Grilled Cheese (was served at our wedding as a surprise for Joe!), Stove Top Mac & Cheese, Stuffed Shells, and Cannelloni.


Stuffed Shell Stuffing

I’m still not 100% certain what I’m going to make for his actual birthday dinner – tho I do have dessert planned out!   

Apple Caramel Muffin

and Let Live

Taco Bowl

Taco Bowl

Greeting!  Today’s dish is what happens when you leave a crucial item off of a shopping list – in this case taco shells.  While I first debated attempting to make my own shells, I then realized a much safer option would be forgetting about the shells and going for the taco version of a burrito bowl.  I used the usual cast of characters when it came to the taco “filling” and then tossed it all with some rice for a simple bowl of delicious.   As an added bonus the jalapeno came from my own garden, tho sadly I can not claim the tomatoes since this year I only have the cherry variety going – but maybe next year!

and Let Live

Serves 4-5


  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, diced
  • 2 cups presoaked black (or pinto) beans
  • 1/2 cup black olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips (optional)


  1. Soak the brown rice in the water for 25 minutes, set aside.
  2. While the rice is soaking heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin and toast for 3 minutes before adding the remaining spices, cook for 2 minutes while stirring constantly.
  3. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes before adding the peppers. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until onion starts to brown. Add the tomato, beans, and olives and cook for 5 minutes stirring as needed to break up the tomato.
  4. Drain the rice then place in a sauce pan along with 3 cups of water. Bring to a quick boil, then turn hit to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice and then add to the vegetable mixture along with any remaining water.
  5. Stir well and cook for a final 10 minutes. Add the crushed up chips and give everything a final stir.
  6. Serve and Enjoy!

Sometimes it pays off to forget something as now I have a new quick dish that has all the taco taste – just minus the shells. Plus it uses up random scraps of food that might otherwise have been thrown away, which is a HUGE positive in my opinion.  The taco rice can be topped with avocado, sour cream, cheese, or salsa – whatever your taste buds desire!

Note: Saying extra prayers today for all the family and friends who lost loved ones in the horrible attacks 13 years ago.  I’ve written before about my own experience before here for anyone interested.

Could Cry

Hi everyone!  I wrote this post back in April for Jane of The Heritage Cook.  Things have been a bit rough over here so sharing this now while we attempt to get back on our feet :-) Huge thanks to our family and friends who have helped us out during this not so pleasant adventure.  Will most likely write something up about that soon as well but not quite there yet.  
Hi!  I’m Amanda E and I can normally be found blogging about vegetarian dishes over at DancingVeggies.  I’m in the Secret Recipe Club with Jane, and with that have been following her for a few years now – which is why I jumped at the opportunity to write a guest post.  While I normally stick to the healthier recipes, the crazy weather here in the mid-Atlantic has driven me to the sweeter side of life.
S'More Pie
This past weekend we watched as the weather went from 60 and rainy to below freezing and snowing in a matter of hours – typical for February but not the tale end of March.  Since we weren’t exactly expecting snow at the end of March, all of our firewood was outside which resulted in a minor panic.  See, I’m not a fan of snow and the only positive I can find about winter weather is the excuse to build a fire indoors and make S’mores!  I needed my chocolate marshmallow fix but had no way to safely prepare the marshmallows since we are currently living microwave-free.  In my panic I started rummaging thru the pantry before finding a box of pudding tucked away behind my backup flour.  I then realized what needed to be done – I needed to prepare a S’more pie.  So I got out all my ingredients and set to assembling all my goodies, with the added excitement of being able to show this pie off to the company joining us for dinner.
Guest Post

Serves: Yields 1 10inch Pie



  • 10 full size graham crackers
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter or earth balance, melted
  • 1 box instant chocolate pudding
  • 2 cups cold milk (dairy or coconut - almond milk will not set!)
  • 1/2 bag marshmallows (I used Dandies), cut in half


  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Break the graham crackers in quarters and place in blender along with melted butter. Blend until the crackers form small (pencil eraser) sized crumbs. Press the crumbs in to the bottom of an 10inch pie or tart pan.
  3. Blind bake for 15 minutes, crust will solidify and turn a rich caramel shade. Set aside to cool
  4. Once crust has reached room temperature begin preparing the pudding per instructions. After whisking for 2 minutes quickly pour the mixture in to the pre-baked crust before it fully set. Place in fridge for one hour.
  5. Gently press the marshmallows in to the partially set pie crust then place in fridge for a final hour.
  6. Remove pie from the fridge. Carefully use a brulee torch to brown (or blacken) the marshmallows to your desired "doneness".
  7. Serve and enjoy!
In the future I would hunt down a creme brulee torch (or blow-torch) in order to fully char the marshmallows but we had to work with what we had and it worked out.  I made sure to char a few for my hubby while leaving the rest just slightly cooked per guests’ requests.  In the end, we had the awesome combination of s’mores without the hassle of drying out wood.  Even better is this pie insures that the goodness of s’mores can continue in to the summer months – which is as it should be.
Thanks Jane for letting me do a guest post on your amazing blog!

In the Way

Black Eyed Pea Cakes


I have to admit that some of my favorite challenges are ones where I’m forced to use things already on hand – such as the Cook from your Pantry challenge on /52weeksofcooking.  Not only do they force me to clean out things that might have been hiding in a back corner, but they also cause me to take stock of what all I’ve got – and what I might need.  In this case I had purchased a few cans of black eyes peas with the intent to make Texas Caviar, which never happened.  So I pulled those out and modified a recipe a coworker had given me a few weeks earlier for Black Eyed Pea Cakes.  The original recipe came with some delicious Vidalia Onions (straight from Georgia!) and featured a few ingredients that weren’t exactly vegetarian friendly (again, recipe is straight from Georgia).


Black Eyed Peas Cake

Serves: Makes 10 4inch patties

Serves 3-4


  • 2 cans black eyed peas, drain with 1/2 tbsp of liquid reserved
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 basil leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 springs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
  • vegetable oil for frying


  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor of blender and blend until mashed but not quite pureed. Slowly add more olive oil if needed.
  2. Form 4x2 inch patties on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper then place in the fridge for at last one hour
  3. Cover a deep frying pan with at least 1/2 inch of oil and heat. Oil is ready when water flicked water "dances" across the pan. Add the patties one at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan, and cook for 5 minutes before flipping. Cook the other side for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Remove cooked patty to another cookie sheet, this one lined with paper towels and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve and Enjoy!

These cakes weren’t the most stable when it came time to cook them, even after chilling in the fridge, but they were delicious!  I served them with some coleslaw which added a nice crunch to the dinner.  A green salad would also work – just need to have something with a bit of a bite so that the jaw doesn’t get bored!  They would also make a great appetizer, just shrink the size to 2 inches and enjoy!  With that the cakes could also be prepped the night before, or the morning of, depending on free time.

Everything is Awesome

Summer Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

I’m a firm believer in go-to-recipes – ones that always turn out perfect and can be varied to fit the event.  Pasta salad has the advantage of being not only an easy recipe but one of those recipes that can also unite vegans and meat-eaters.  Growing up my mom had her go-to variation and my first few pasta salads were basically her recipe – but over time I decided to branch out and have established my own “standard”.  While a few of the characters might change based on what’s growing in the garden, I keep the same dressing and rarely ever switch out the beans!

Everything is Awesome

Serves: Serves 5-6, as a side


  • 1 lb tri-color rotini
  • 1 tsp garlic scrapes, diced (or 2 cloves garlic, diced)
  • 1/2 vidalia onion,
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups cannellini beans, presoaked and well washed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 argula leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled


  1. Cook the pasta per box instructions, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the vegetables and place in a large pyrex bowl. Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, and herbs.
  3. Toss the pasta with the vegetables then stir in the dressing.
  4. Top with feta (optional) - then serve and enjoy!

I generally enjoy this pasta salad with bbq tofu but with the addition of the beans it works just fine as a cold dinner – and generally it is eaten solo for lunch the next day.  It can also be made in advance, just be sure to add a tbsp of EVOO to the bowl and then toss well in order to insure it doesn’t dry out.  I’m sending this over to July’s Simple and in Season since everything about this recipe screams summertime!  This month Sally at MyCustardPie is hosting this awesome round up as our normal hostess is quite occupied with a new baby boy!

In gardening news I’ve now harvested almost a dozen cherry tomatoes, with more popping up every day!  I’ve also collected two jalapenos, what is most likely the last of my argula (which was used in this recipe!), and I’m still waiting on my first eggplants.  There’s a chance I’ll need to pull my veggies inside later this week, something about  a July Polar Vortex – which is another advantage of having a pot garden!