Veggie Lasagna


I’ve long been on a quest to make good vegetable lasagna. The basic ingredients are usually the same- it just usually never seems to taste as good as when I get it at a restaurant. This version is pretty tasty- a classic marinara and ricotta style.


For the sauce (or buy 2 jars)

8 Roma tomatoes

1 white onion

5 carrots

4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

2 cans San Mariano plum tomatoes

2 large handfuls basil, finely chopped

salt and pepper

olive oil

I will say this: as often as I have now made homemade marinara sauce, I just don’t think it is worth the payoff here. So save some time and buy a nice jar brand; it will taste just as yummy

For the Ricotta

30 ounces ricotta cheese (can sub tofu)

1 handful basil

1 lemon, juiced and Zested


2 zuchini

2 yellow squash


lasagna noodles

Directions: takes 2-3 hours, will serve 8-10 good sized portions

To cook the sauce, place a pot of water to boil. Separately, chop your onions and carrots into small pieces and put in pot of olive oil on medium high. Cook down for about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 5 minutes.


While that is cooking, cut a very thin slice into the skin of your Roma tomatoes and drop into the boiling water for two minutes.


Remove and place in an ice bath. Peel and set aside until your sauce base is ready. Then add the tomatoes to the pot. Let soften and then mash up and stir. When well blended together add the canned tomatoes. Continue to simmer and stir for about 30 minutes. Add the basil, salt, and pepper and finish off for about ten minutes.


While you are simmering your sauce, prep the rest of the dish. Cook and let your lasagna noodles cool.


Chop your zucchini and squash and place on a pan with some olive oil and salt. Place in the oven on broil for about ten minutes.


Finally, mix together the ricotta with the lemon zest, juice, and basil.


Alright- it’s been about an hour and a half and all the fixings are ready- time to assemble. In a 13×9 pan start layering. Sauce first then noodles, ricotta, veggies, spinach and then sauce again. Keep going till you pan is full (I got two full layers veggies and the top one just ricotta) and top off with sauce and either grated mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.


Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then enjoy!


*** Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

World’s Greatest Vegetable Lasagna!

Homemade Falafel and Veggie Naan-wich


I grew up in a very white-bread meat and potatoes kind of family. I became a vegetarian when I was 16 years old. A couple of my newer high school friends were vegetarian and it just amazed me to realize that I did not have to eat meat. One day I bit into a chicken patty, looked at it and considered what I was doing, spit it out, and never looked back. That was 17 years ago.

Now it definitely wasn’t easy. I had no idea what I was doing for the first few years. I stopped eating meat but my family had no idea what to do with me. They kept cooking the same food and I just subsisted on side dishes. I developed a lot of bad habits this way; they have been hard to break over the years.

Falafel is one of those delights I had never had until a few years ago. Oh, what I was missing. It is truly one of the best foods to eat in the world. This recipe is definitely the best one I have made so far. I bit into it and I was just like “oh, shit.” It’s that good.


Falafel Ingredients

This makes enough for 12 falafel patties

16 ounces (1 pound) of dried chickpeas. Soak overnight in water. Drain and pat dry.

1 large handful of parsley

1 small handful of cilantro

1 large shallot or two small shallots

1 handful pecans

5 cloves garlic

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

pinch of salt and pepper

1 egg

3-4 tablespoons milled flax seed (can use flour if you don’t have this)

Plain or Panko bread crumbs to coat before cooking, do not mix into the batter

Grape seed or avocado oil for cooking

Naan-wich Ingredients

Magic Green Sauce

1-2 jalepenos based on your spice preference- discard stems

4 cloves garlic

1 large handful each parsley and cilantro

1 avocado

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup olive oil

Juice of one lime

1 large pinch salt

1/2 cup pistachios (shelled)

Sandwich ingredients

Garlic Naan

Hummus. Here in Dayton I like DLM brand hummus. Your favorite kind will do.

Shredded carrots

Peppadew peppers (found in the cheese and olive bar section of most grocery stores)


Pickled red onions. To pickle a red onion chop it into thin strips. On the stove bring to a boil equal parts Apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, and water with about a tablespoon of sugar. When boiling place onions into liquid and turn off the heat. When at room temperature place into a jar and in the fridge, or may use immediately.



To make the falafel “dough” place all ingredients in food processor. I like to place the garlic and shallots in first to ensure they get chopped up nice and fine. Add in the rest of the ingredients, saving the egg for last. When it comes time for the egg, add about 1/4 of the yolk and egg. Do not add the whole egg or it will make your mixture much too runny. If you are vegan, egg can be omitted.


Place your falafel mix into the fridge to chill for  1-2 hours. This is a good time to get your green sauce made. Again- easy as pie- because it involves throwing everything into the food processor. The jalepenos and garlic should be first so they get nicely processed. I found the consistency for this to be somewhere between a dressing and a hummus. Not runny but not spreadable withy a knife, either- somewhere in between. This will make plenty to store the rest in a jar for later.


Okay! Time to cook the falafel. I used a cast iron skillet for this. I find it gets me a really nice crust when I need it. Get your oil heating on medium heat. Form your falfel into small patties and coat lightly with breadcrumbs on each side. This will help them get crispier in the pan. Cook each side for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. They stick together well and are pretty easy to flip.


After you flip them, heat up your naan. I just turn the broiler on and heat each side right on the rails for 1 minute each side. Get your falafel patties and put your wich together. I start with a layer of hummus, a layer of magic green sauce, carrots, peppadew peppers, pickled red onions, spinach, falafel, and top with a little more green sauce.  I am not kidding, these are so good and so addicting- you will love them!!!


*** Falafel recipe adapted from the minimalist baker:

*** Naan-wich and green sauce recipe adapted from Pinch Of Yum:

Both of these are great sites- check them out!





We lose patients. As doctors, we lose patients every day. Sometimes those losses are expected, and we have had time to prepare the patient, their loved ones, and ourselves for that inevitable moment when that last breath is heavily sighed. Those are the best of times- when we can say our goodbyes and provide a little bit of comfort to those whose lives are ending. I am so thankful that I am able to do this for my patients and their families; it is the greatest honor of my job.

And sometimes we lose patients quickly. Death swoops in with a chaotic fury. There is no time for family and loved ones to prepare for this. It hits them immediately like a freight train. In these times I want so much to be not a doctor, but just a human being, and it is very hard to maintain the distance that is needed to preserve the duties of my job.  The distance that allows us to look you in the eye and tell you that person you loved the very best is gone forever.  Our tears and our grief will not help you in that moment, our job is to keep it together for as long as possible so that you can fall apart, and we will help to catch you. How many times have I crouched in the hall, the stairwell, the darkened corner and finally let free those tears?

We carry our patients and our experiences with us for our entire careers. Every physician will be able to tell you the exact story of the first patient that died under their care.  And that same day, every physician took a moment for themselves, put a smile onto their face and went into the room of their next patient. Because we have many other patients and families relying on us.  But when we go to bed at night and wake up the next morning, and the morning after that, we will still be thinking of those patients that we lost. Their names, their memories, their stories will be etched in our minds forever. They will inform every decision we make for the rest of our careers. We will continue to tell our patients’ stories, and they will never be forgotten.


Harvest Salad with Parsnips, Pomegranate, and Pear


This salad looks like, smells like, and tastes like fall. It combines fairly simple flavor profiles of not commonly used ingredients to showcase them in the best way. The humble parsnip is really elevated by the simple roasting.  Set against the backdrop of kale, this salad is as filling as it is nutritious. A perfect quick and easy weeknight dinner.

Serves 4


1 bunch of kale leaves (about 8 leaves). I used red kale here

2 parsnips

1 pomegranate

1 pear (I had an Anjous)

1/2 cup of toasted nuts (pecans for me today, walnuts or hazelnuts would do)

Drizzle of maple syrup and olive oil

For the dressing

1/3 cup olives oil

1 clove minced garlic

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 lemon juiced and zested

1 tablespoon Apple cider vinegar

Pinch of salt and Pepper


Turn the oven on to 375 degrees. Wash the parsnips and peel outer layer (if desired, you don’t have to peel them).  Cut them into wedges about an inch-2 inches wide. Place into a baking sheet and coat very lightly with maple syrup and olive oil. Place into oven and roast for 35-45 minutes. Take out when starting to turn nicely golden at edges.

Meanwhile prep the rest of the dish. De-seed your pomegranate. I like this lady’s method.


Basically just cut it in half and then hold it over a bowl and whack it until the seeds fall out.

Thinly slice your pears and roughly chop the kale down to more manageable size, leaving out the middle vein of the stems.


To make the dressing either pop everything in the food processor for a second or into a bottle and give it a good shake.

And your gorgeous fall salad is ready. Perfect with a glass of wine.


** adapted from PBS Food



Vegetable Bolognese with Pasta


Well, I will tell you what- don’t decide you want to start a new hobby like a blog and then go out two weeks later and buy a new house!  My husband and I bought a wonderful fixer upper and even though we won’t close on the house until January due to having a renovation type mortgage loan, it has already been a lot of work and stress!  I can’t wait until we have a beautiful new house to live in, but my oh my it is time consuming.  So, I definitely haven’t been cooking as many new recipes as I have wanted.  I have been cooking what works and eating more take out than usual.  Missing too many meals from being too busy, though unfortunately that is not unusual with my job.  One of the big problems is that I will not eat all day and then come home and realize I am starving and not want to take an hour to cook something, just eating whatever is available instead.

I have had the time in the last few weeks to make this delicious vegetable bolognese sauce twice.  I recently had to go to Las Vegas for a conference, and while I was there I had this recipe at Giada De Laurentiis’ restuarant.  It was so good I looked it up and made it at home.  The first time did not turn out well.  As you will see this recipe is based quite heavily on mushrooms- which I really don’t care for.  They are too “meaty” in their flavor profile for me.  So I have altered this recipe quite a bit to downplay that flavor while making it more tomato based.  It still has the same amount of mushrooms and veggies in it and is extremely hearty.


1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (hit up your specialist grocery for these- DLM in Dayton, folks- they usually hang above the fresh veggies in small plastic baggies)

6 carrots washed and roughly chopped

1 white onion peeled and large chopped

1 red bell pepper roughly chopped

1 handful of walnuts

6 cloves garlic or 1 tablespoon pre-minced garlic (I do not have time I have decided to spend my whole life peeling and mincing garlic!)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 handful each of fresh thyme, oregano and basil (generous handfuls, finely minced)

Salt and pepper to taste

To taste crushed red pepper (I added about 2 tablespoons)

6 ounces button mushrooms

1 can of tomato paste

1 can of stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup of red wine

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1 pound pasta, rigatoni or spiral pasta that will hold sauce well

Parmesan cheese for topping, to taste



Start by placing your dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl with hot water to rehydrate them.  Leave them sitting while you do other work.

Place a large pot on the stove and get your olive oil warming. Then place your chopped veg- carrot, onion, bell pepper, garlic- into the food processor with the walnuts.  Pulse briefly for about 5 seconds.  My food processor is super strong so I very briefly pulsed them.  You want it to be finely chopped but still chunky.  Do not pulse too long or it will turn into a mush-like baby food consistency.  I made this mistake the first time I made this recipe.  Not very appetizing. This picture is how they should appear.image

Dump them into the pot.  Stir and let warm for about 5 minutes.Add in your herbs, salt, pepper, CRP and let cook another 2-3 minutes.  Do not let get to boiling, just simmer.  Start a pot for your pasta to boil.


While that is ongoing dump the liquid from your mushrooms out and put the mushrooms themselves into the food processor.  Add in the button mushrooms and the tomato paste.  Add a splash of water.  Pulse for about 5-10 seconds.  Again until finely chopped but still chunky.  This will also then be dumped into the pot and stirred to mix together.  Let simmer for a few minutes and while it is doing so, toss your can of stewed tomatoes into the food processor.  Stir those into the pot as well as the red wine.  Bring the temp up to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Cook your pasta during this time.


As the final step add in the mascarpone cheese to the sauce and let simmer for another 5 minutes or so while the pasta is finishing.  Then meld the pasta and sauce together.  Add a splash of the pasta water if needed. Top with Parmesan cheese and basil.


As I said before this dish is very filling.  It is also a great way to get veggies in without really knowing it (why would someone want that???) since they are mixed into the sauce.  Once I added more tomato flavor to this it made it more appetizing to me as someone who just can’t get past a heavy mushroom flavor- even though there are still 7 ounces of mushrooms in the dish.  I have to give myself credit on this one- the atmosphere in the posh Giada dining room may have outdone my living room, but the flavor of the dish was top notch both places.

** Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

New York City: Babbo and Otto


I used to be such a naive person. I looked at Mario Batali in his ridiculous orange crocs, and I unfairly judged him on his appearance. That was a mistake. At this point we have eaten at every Molto Mario restaurant, and even seen the man (and crocs!) in person. I can say, without a doubt, that to me Mario is infallible and producing some of the best Italian food there is to eat in this country. This post is specifically about Babbo and Otto, where we ate this trip to NYC, but Del Posto is a beautiful gem sitting atop the fine dining scene in New York.  At the opposite end of the spectrum is the everyday accessible Eataly. The food here is as delicious, but it comes wrapped in a package of a market packed to the brim with imported and fresh goods. It honestly is a flurry of activity and takes some time to navigate. Let’s get down to the bones of it and start with Babbo.

Babbo and Otto in NYC are both located right by Washington square park, about a block from each other. Babbo is the stand-by Batali restaurant that has been around the longest (opened in 1998). It remains the hardest to get a table here. Even a month out, the only times for reservations are early around 5:30 or later around 10:30.  This suits us as we try to pretend we are still young when we travel and eat late at night. The place is still packed to the gills at 10:30 on a Friday. 80s rock like Guns and Roses is playing and drinks are flowing- everyone is having a good time. Our table-mates next to us may have too good a time: they gave a “whoop” each time a new course came, were pretty hammered, and I’m pretty sure wandered off at the end of the meal to have sex in a bathroom. Yuck!

At Babbo there is not a huge preponderance of vegetarian choices. Even the pasta courses and antipasti are meat focused. There are a few choices for each course. Some of the vegetable dishes have meat or meat broth in them, they are more than happy to prepare them vegetarian for you.  The choices that are available are all wonderful!


The night we dined, there was a special appetizer- buffalo mozzarella with an arugula pesto. This came on bread, which I didn’t expect, but it was so good. I’ve never had a pesto from Mario that wasn’t fresh and delicious, and this one was no different.


For my main pasta course I loved the pumpkin “lune” or ravioli. These are ubiquitous now, seemingly on fall menus everywhere, but eating here I’m reminded where they originated at here in the States. Seasoned with sage and a light dusting of amaretti cookies, each bite is perfection.

image image

We ordered several vegetable sides to go along with our meals. The beet farroto (at top) was absolutely beautiful and really highlighted the flavor of beets. Brussels sprouts (sans pancetta) were roasted to soft and supple goodness. The only bad note was the rapini- it hadn’t been sautéed quite enough and was still very bitter and sour.


We saw another table order this beautiful desert and had to have it. It was a mix of gelato and sorbet. The standouts for me were the corn, olive oil, and coconut. It was just a lovely way to close out a lovely night.

At both Babbo and Otto the service was excellent: polite, attentive, and friendly. We went to Otto before going out to see Hamilton (the best musical ever!). Otto is more casual and easier to get a reservation, more family friendly. This was our first time eating here for dinner; we’ve had lunch before on several occasions. What I love about Otto is there are so many vegetarian choices. From appetizers, salads, vegetables, pastas, pizzas there are an abundance of options. I am like a kid in a candy store when I eat here.


We started with a selection of two delicious salads. One thing we never skip at Otto is the seasonal caprese. This version was with creamy burrata cheese that was so luscious! Alongside this we had a fennel and apple salad with walnuts. Fennel really makes a wonderful fresh salad vehicle, and paired with apple it is tart.


Choosing from the many verdura (vegetable) dishes was tough! We went with another farro dish, this one with squash and apple. Farro is really one of my favorite grains as it is so hearty and nutty. Broccoli rabe was the other choice, and I ate it with my pasta as it paired very nicely.


This was actually the first time I’ve had pasta at Otto, usually just eating veggies, salad, maybe pizza. I just couldn’t resist getting the goat cheese agnolotti! They were amahhhhzing! Light and airy in a simple lightly lemony sauce.


A lot of these dishes and others from Marios restaurants are in his cookbooks, and I look forward to tackling them. His simple but sophisticated favors stand the test of time. Molto Mario!

New York City: Dovetail vegetarian tasting menu


A vegatarian tasting menu used to be an unheard of thing. It is now something less rare but still worthy of special acclaim. I have had the pleasure once before, at Gramercy Tavern last year here in NYC.  Honestly, there are few other places in the country, or world for that matter, where you will be able to find one. I have a few restaurants on my bucket list- the masterful and artistic Alinea, the over the top Eleven Madison, the revered French Laundry- but there are many more accessible places out there. I could not help but stumble upon Dovetail due to so many rave reviews and write-ups. My one sadness is that we are never in town on Monday nights. Dovetail has a vegetarian menu every single night, but Monday they pull out all the stops and devote every course to vegetables as idols. We made reservations for a Wednesday night and prepared for an adventure!

It starts with the locale- tucked away on the upper west side. Walking in the whitewashed brick walls and low lighting reek of good taste and old money. That being said- my fresh off the metaphorical Ohio farm hubby and I were made to feel right at home among the wealthy New York clientele. I have never had a very negative experience at a fancy restaurant, and I think it’s mostly about attitude. We are always falling over ourselves to be polite and express overwhelming interest in the restaurant, staff, and menu. This will win you a lot of favor and good service that is not rude or stuffy. The servers were all really wonderful and  this restaurant had numerous awesome female sommeliers; I loved to see that!  I had the wine pairings with my meal, which was a new experience and very cool. I had one wonderful wine that I loved and need to hunt down- Mamacita white sparking wine out of Oregon, so good and crisp, not sweet at all.

We already knew coming in we would be doing the tasting menus. Since I do not like mushrooms as the main component of a dish, they let me swap it out for another option of my choosing. Of course Rob had the meat tasting menu and there was some really horrible stuff on there (foie gras!). I will not even speak of those atrocities!


The meal started with a trio of amuse bouchées. Pineapple drink with foam, fried potato cube, and a mini tart with parsnip purée. All were delicious!


Next was my chosen course- an heirloom tomato salad. Pickled ramps really gave this a nice acidic bite.


An haricot vert salad with apples followed. What blew my mind was that the black purée you see there is actually also made of haricot vert! It tasted so good and totally different, I had no idea and had to ask what the heck it was. Mind blown.

Next was the best dish of the meal- sweet corn polenta with blackberries and truffles (pictured at top). The polenta was out of this world in flavor and just paired so perfectly with the earthy truffles and sweetly sour blackberries. Thus was my first truffle experience. I loved them, who knew? Star of the night.


Followed by another great dish- spinach and artichoke crostata. Creamy, rich, memorable.


Continuing strong with grilled figs with radishes, stracciatella, and pistachios. Figs are another ingrediant recently discovered for me, and now I love them! Check out Fig and Olive also in NYC, Chicago, and DC.


This gorgeous looking dish of miso marinated beets was where the meal nose-dived for me. I love, love, love beets. These beets soaked up all the salt of their miso marinade such that they were inedible. I literally could not eat them, and left them on my plate to be carried away. It made me very sad. Ending with this before desert almost ruined the whole dang meal.


We had two little palate cleanser courses before desert. The last was a mango sorbet with ginger. Honestly that should have ended the meal, it was that good- so creamy with the ginger the perfect counterpoint. This pretty confection above was a blueberry pavlova. It was light and airy but eclipsed by its predecessor, and thus outshined and soon forgotten.

On the whole this meal was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in my life. I look forward to returning here, preferably on a Monday to see the veggie magic happen.  If you are ever in NYC and need somewhere to go for a very special occasion- I would recommend Dovetail for those true foodies out there! (For the less adventurous diners: always, always, always choose a Mario Batali restaurant. He is the best!)

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