My Top 10 Favorite Vegetarian Recipes

Happy New Year!!  I have noticed that a lot of bloggers are doing an end of year round-up, so I thought that I would share with you a beginning of year round up of my top 10 favorite vegetarian recipes.

Meyer Lemon Basil Pesto Meyer Lemon Basil Pesto

Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup

Kale Persimmon Salad Kale Persimmon Salad with a Red and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Black Lentil Chili Black Lentil Chili with Crispy Shoestring Fries and Crunchy Veggie Pico de Gallo

Triple Chocolate Cookies Triple Chocolate Cookies

Oregano Feta Hummus Oregano Feta Hummus with Greek Pico de Gallo

Cream of Potato Chive Soup Cream of Potato Chive Soup with Roasted Jalapeno

Black Lentil Greek Salad Black Lentil Greek Salad with Fried Halloumi and Oregano Feta Lemon Pesto

Creamy Artichoke Mac ‘N’ Cheese Creamy Artichoke Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes with Honey and Tarragon

White Bean Asiago Bisque with Thyme Oil

This warm and cozy White Bean Asiago Bisque is a delightfully smooth and soothing soup!  The flavor combination is both rich and delicate all at the same time.  The earthy notes from the thyme oil add the most wonderful finishing touch.  It’s the perfect fall soup if I do say so myself.

White Bean Asiago Bisque I must admit that it took me a while to dive into this community.  When I first started blogging, I didn’t even know such a community existed.  I was so focused on learning as much as I could about all that is required to run a food blog that I didn’t make the time for the social aspect.  After a while, I saw that a lot of bloggers seemed to know each other and I became intrigued.  I started to get to know some of them and slowly developed friendships.

The best part is that everyone is so supportive and encouraging of one another.  They continually uplift and inspire me in ways that no other has and they have me striving to do better.  I am honored to be a part of this wonderful community of food bloggers and am excited about the idea of continuing to grow along with them.

White Bean Asiago Bisque This soup pairs the best with a dry white wine like an unoaked Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.


White Bean Asiago Bisque Recipe:

4 to 6  servings

  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 Vegetable Bouillon Cube – unsalted
  • 2 1/2  Cups Dried White Beans
  • 12 + 3 – 5 Cups Filtered Water (Depending on how old the beans are, you might need to add more water, but careful not to overdo it.)
  • 1 1/4 Cup Asiago Cheese – finely grated
  • 1 Cup Half and Half
  • 1 Tablespoons Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed – optional
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Sea Salt or to taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper  or to taste
Thyme Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Thyme
Add the onion and 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a saute pan with and heat on medium-low heat. For about 5 minutes then add the garlic and saute until the garlic starts to become golden.  Add the wine and bouillon cubes then smash the bouillon and reduce the wine until syrupy.

Measure beans and sort thru to make sure there are no rocks then rinse and drain.

Add 12 cups of water and bring to a boil over med-high heat, continue boiling until beans are soft adding the other 5 cups of water as the beans soak it up. (make sure and keep an eye on them) When the beans are completely cooked, add all the remaining ingredients and puree in a food processor, blender or immersion blender until it is smooth.
 Serve with a drizzle of thyme oil.
Thyme Oil

Wash and dry the herbs. Crush the herbs by using your fingers or a pestle and mortar to release their oils.  Add the thyme and oil into a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.  Turn the heat off and let cool. Pour into the glass container and store in a cool place.

3U9A4539 Health Benefits:

White Beans are a super source of dietary fiber, which is good for the prevention of constipation, also helps digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. They are great for heart health because of their significant amounts of folate (support of red blood cell formation, one cup of the cooked beans provides 63.7% of the recommended daily intake for folate) and magnesium (lowers blood pressure). They are good for helping insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, and help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady energy.

Thyme is rich in thymol, the essential oil that has powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties.  It has anti-aging properties that help boosts the immune system.  Helps fight asthma by relaxing the muscles in the bronchi and it is an expectorant helping to eliminate mucus from the lungs.  Thyme has a powerful detoxifying agent that is helpful in detoxing the liver. It is full of vitamin C and is a good source of vitamin A.

Cream of Potato Chive Soup with Roasted Jalapeno

Well friends, it’s that time of year again.  Daylight savings is upon us and it has me craving a silky smooth bowl of cozy soup.  This Cream of Potato Chive Soup is creamy, fulfilling and super tasty!  The potato and chives complement each other perfectly. The heat from the jalapeno and hot chili oil adds a beautiful depth that ties it all together.

Cream of Potato Chive Soup It has been 4 years since Ang and I started this blog.  It all started one day when I called Ang to tell her that I was going to start a blog.  She suggested that we start it together and that is exactly what we did.  We covered topics such as recipes, fashion, restaurants, wineries, interviews, health, passion videos and photos.

In the beginning, we used to post up to 5 times a week but the posts were very weak with minimal content.  We plugged along consistently learning everything we could about running a blog.  We taught ourselves food photography and styling with the help of the Internet.  We learned how to write recipes and instructions, we brushed up on our Photoshop skills and continued to learn photo editing.  We learned about social media marketing and how to build our own self-hosted WordPress website.  We learned SEO, we searched for all the plugins we needed and we learned a whole lot more!

Cream of Potato Chive Soup About a year and a half later, we decide to streamline our topics to recipes, interviews, restaurants and wineries.  Ang became more involved with cocktail recipes and I became very passionate in the area of food recipes.  We had a lot of fun collaborating and inspiring each other.

 Sadly, that era has come to an end and Ang is now moving on from the blog.  It’s sad but also very exciting.  She has been working for a new company and she is loving it!  She was able to quit the restaurant industry and now is able to enjoy weekends and holidays with her friends and family.  This will be the first Thanksgiving and Christmas that she will be able to spend with the boys and I couldn’t be happier for them!  I will continue on with CaliZona and there will always be a place for Ang when she feels like creating a new cocktail.  I added her cocktails to the recipe drop-down menu so you can find them when you are craving one of her delicious creations!  Here’s to a new time full of inspiration and creativity!!

Cream of Potato Chive Soup This soup is wonderful with a sparkling wine such as a Cava or Prosecco.  It’s also lovely with a Chablis or Sancerre.

Cream of Potato Chive Soup Cream of Potato Chive Soup
8 – 10 servings
  • 1/2 White Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube – unsalted
  • 4 – 5 (3 1/2 pounds) Russet Potatoes – peeled – save peels
  • 6 Cups Water
  • 1 Cup Half and Half (or milk)
  • 1 Cup Milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeno Pepper – roasted – roughly chopped
  • 1 Cup Chives – minced
  • 1 Tablespoon + 2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Chili Oil
  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 Dried Thai Chilies or Arbol
  • Chives – minced – to taste
  • Hot Chili Oil
  • 3 – 4 Jalapeno Peppers (about half per bowl) – roasted – sliced or minced – optional
  • Crispy Potato Skins – optional
Start by

Place the cubed potatoes in a large bowl covered with filtered water.  Set aside.

Add the onions and olive oil to a 5 1/2 quart pot or dutch oven and sauté on medium-low heat for 5 minutes then add the garlic and cook until garlic just starts to become golden.

Once the garlic becomes golden, add bouillon cubes and wine to the onions.   Mash the bouillon to dissolve.

While the onions are cooking, roast peppers on the stovetop on medium-high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove. Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.  When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag rolled shut to hold in the steam.
Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.
Add the water and potatoes to the onions then cook on high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook 25 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
 Add the milk, half and half, chives, jalapeno, salt and pepper.  If you want it silky smooth you will need to use an immersion blender or a vita mixer.  If you don’t have either use a food processor or blender and puree the best you can.
Chili Oil

 Add oil and chilies to a small pot.  Turn the stove on, in between low and medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool then pour into a jar.

Crispy Potato Skins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Peel the potatoes, then dry the peels with a paper towel and sprinkle with about a tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of salt and toss to evenly coat.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until crispy.
The skins won’t stay crunchy overnight but you can toss them back in the oven for a few minutes to crisp them up if you like.
Cream of Potato Chive Soup Health Benefits:
Chives contain flavonoid anti-oxidants, plant fiber, minerals, and vitamins.  It is one of the richest sources of vitamin K, rich in vitamin C and is really high in vitamin A. It reduces cholesterol production in the liver and helps decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.  It also helps to maintain bone mineral density.

Jalapeno is a rich source of vitamin C, 1 pepper provides 18 % of the daily value for men and 23 % for women. They also have a good amount of vitamin A, which helps skin and eye health. Jalapenos contain phenols, flavonoids and capsaicinoids that help the body fight free radicals, inflammation and promote weight loss. The bioflavonoids are powerful antioxidants and help strengthen blood vessels. They also fight nasal congestion by stimulating secretions that help clear mucus from the nose. They contain more vitamin B6 aiding the immune system, E that protect the cells and K, which increases bone mass more than any other pepper.

Black Bean Roasted Pepper Salsa Soup

This Black Bean Roasted Pepper Salsa Soup is deeply flavorful and incredibly satisfying with the addition of the roasted salsa.  It’s a vegan soup that can be left as it is or dressed up with chunks of avocado, cheddar cheese, Ancho chips, Pico de Gallo or a dollop of sour cream.

Black-Bean-Soup-3 This was a great weekend, to say the least.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Better Homes and Gardens regrammed my Blueberry Chevre Crostini with Champagne Vinegar Hibiscus Flowers on Instagram.  As a food blogger, you spend so much time learning and practicing photography that when someone like BHG acknowledges one of your photos it feels like a really big deal.  The same photo also won the best photo of the week from Haute Cuisine.  I couldn’t be happier.

Black-Bean-Soup-4 On another note, how was your 4th of July?  Robby and I had a great weekend with Beto and clan. They arrived early Saturday afternoon to our house and we immediately headed to the beach to give the kids the opportunity release some of their excess energy.  Robby and I had been preparing food for a couple days prior to their visit and when we got back from the beach we set up a taco bar full of all of the fixings. It was delicious! It also happened to be Beto’s birthday so Jill and Paloma decorated a Paloma designed cake after we finished dinner. It was an almond cake with dark chocolate frosting, white and dark chocolate tiles arranged like a checkerboard all topped with dinosaur shrinky dinks. It was one of the coolest cakes I have ever seen and it tasted divine!

After dinner, everyone was so tired that it ended up being an early night, which was good because the next day was jam packed full of adventures.  In the morning, we loaded up our cars with all our bikes and headed to West cliff.   We rode along the cliffs and down to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk where we stopped for lunch at a small cafe called The Picnic Basket.  If you are in Santa Cruz and are looking for a phenomenal sandwich and salad spot, I can’t recommend this place enough!  They have one of the best grilled cheese sandwich loaded with sharp white cheddar cheese. All of their produce is locally sourced.  After we ate, we left our bikes locked up and walked over to the amusement park where we watched Paloma go on a few rides.  She had so much fun!  We then rode our bikes back to the car. We were all so tired and didn’t feel like cooking or cleaning, so we decided to go to Ella’s at the Airport for dinner.  It was delicious as always.  The next day was the 4th and we packed up our picnic food with some wine and kicked it on the beach for quite a while before Beto and clan headed home.

Black-Bean-Soup-2 This soup pairs really well with a Rosé Sancerre, White Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc or a Soave.

Black-Bean-Soup-1 Black Bean Roasted Pepper Salsa Soup Recipe:

A delicious vegan and gluten free black bean soup.

8 – 10 Servings

  • 2 1/2 Cups Dried Black Beans
  • 10 + 5 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper – roasted – diced
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers – roasted – 1 diced – 1 pureed
  • 2 Poblano Peppers – roasted – 1 diced – 1 pureed
  • 5 Tomatillos – roasted – pureed
  • 2 Large Heirloom Tomatoes – 1 roasted/pureed – 1 diced
  • 1/2 White Onion – cut in half – roasted – pureed
  • 1 Jalapeno – roasted – pureed
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1 Tablespoon Ancho Powder – freshly ground or pre-ground
  • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro – minced
  • 1 Cup Corn – fresh or frozen – charred (charring is optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon + 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt or to taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Ancho chips
  • 1 Whole Wheat Tortilla (or your choice)
  • 2 Teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ancho Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
Garnish options:
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Diced Roasted Peppers
  • Sour Cream
  • Cilantro
Black Beans

In a 5 1/2 quart pot, put a small hand full of beans in the pot at one at a time, making sure there are no rocks.  Then rinse the beans and add the 10 cups of water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to medium-high heat for approx. 45 minutes or until water starts to evaporates and add the remaining 5 cups of water as needed then cook for another 45 minutes or longer, continuing to check on water levels.

* Add sea salt AT THE END or they will be tough.
* It depends on how old the beans are as to how long it will take to cook, older beans can take longer.
* If you have a problem with gas after eating beans.  Try soaking dried beans in water for at least six to eight hours before cooking to reduce gas formation.  Or place beans in a saucepan with cold water, cover and bring to a boil.  Turn off heat and let sit for an hour.  Turn the stove to medium-high heat for about an hour or until beans are soft.
Roast the tomatillos, tomato, onion and jalapeno.

Turn oven to broil.  Core the tomatillos and tomato and cut in half then place on a baking sheet. Cut the onion half in half and place on the baking sheet along with the jalapeno.  Place the baking sheet on the top rack for 6 minutes then flip for 2 more minutes.  Take out of the oven and let cool.

Roasted peppers
Roast the poblano and bell peppers on the stovetop on medium-high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove.  Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.  When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag rolled shut to hold in the steam.
Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.  Slice in half, remove the seeds and stems.  Set aside the 1 poblano and 1 red bell pepper for the salsa and dice the rest.
Corn (optional)

Turn oven onto broil

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the corn in a single layer.  Place on the top rack for 5 minutes.
Ancho Tortilla Chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the tortillas into 16 to 20 wedges.

In a medium bowl, add the tortilla wedges, olive oil, ancho powder and salt.  Gently toss to completely coat the chips.

Arrange the tortilla strips in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake until golden and crispy, about 12 minutes.


Add the garlic to a food processor and mince.  Add the onion, tomato, tomatillos, jalapeno (remove seeds for mild heat.) 1 poblano, 1 red bell pepper and puree then pour into the beans.

Add the diced peppers, diced tomato, cilantro, corn, spices, salt and pepper.

3U9A7423 Health benefits:

 Black beans are high in cholesterol lowering dietary fiber, 1 cup of cooked beans provides you with over 1/2 of your daily requirements and reduces blood cholesterol that helps prevent heart disease.  The fiber supports the digestive tract and the colon, which helps constipation, diverticulitis, and other gastrointestinal disorders.  They also maintain normal blood sugar levels, helping to prevent diabetes.  Black beans are a very good meat substitute because of their 15 grams of protein in 1 cup and contain only trace amounts of saturated fat and no cholesterol.  They contain phytochemicals, substances found only in plant foods that help fight cancer and other chronic diseases.  They increase energy with the good amounts of iron in them and have more antioxidant activity than other types of beans. They neutralize cell-damaging free radicals that may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.  Black beans are also rich in B vitamins, Folate, potassium (helps regulate your blood pressure and heart rate), magnesium, calcium (builds and maintains bones) and other heart-healthy nutrients.

Bell Peppers have more nutrition as they mature.  They are super high in vitamin A which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision and are extremely high in vitamin C, so much so they have twice as much as an orange which makes it really good for the skin.  Red peppers are one of the highest veggies in lycopene and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.  They are also a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum and manganese.

Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup

This Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup is my kind of comfort food.  What’s not to love? It’s creamy, chunky, cheesy and full of charred broccoli goodness.  I added a little twist with the addition of fresh basil that complements the charred broccoli nicely.

Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup Have you ever heard of Servas International?  It is one of the coolest non-profits organizations ever!  It’s an international network of hosts and travelers.  As a host, you provide hospitality to travelers from all over the world and as a traveler, you can look up hosts in the country you plan to travel through.  They provide a booklet that lists all the hosts that are available by country.  The host tells a little bit about themselves and the maximum number of days they will provide lodging per traveler.  If they really like you they may allow for longer stays.  The traveler sends the host an email or letter telling them about themselves like their interest, if they are vegetarian etc.  Then the host will ok the traveler if they feel they are someone they would like to host.  The coolest thing about this is that you get to meet local families and experience their culture instead of staying in hotels.

My mom and I were traveling in the south island of New Zealand for two months and we used Servas as travelers.  We stayed with three families, one was an awesome elderly couple named Ann and Tom who lived in Christchurch.  We stayed with them for three nights.  They were so sweet and they made us breakfast every morning.  I returned the favor by making my famous lasagna, salad and garlic bread the evening before we left.

The next morning, we traveled to the north side of the south island to stay with our next Servas family, the Sanders who lived on a kiwi farm in Blenheim in the Marlborough Region (The home of some of best Sauvignon Blanc).  They had a pig named Murray, some chickens, a couple of deer that I was able to pet.  I was 20 at the time and one of the host’s son was named Tristan who was 18.  Tristan took me along with him to a crazy game called Laser Wars, where we met up with 8 of his friends. It was a really fun experience!  Tristan later invited me to his friend’s birthday party, which was on the Marlborough Sounds.  A few of us cruised around the Sounds in a small rowboat.  It is so incredibly gorgeous that words cannot do it justice! It was really great to hang out with some local teens and to see their lifestyle.

The third host lived in the town of Picton.  They made us a really nice dinner that New Zealanders call tea.  After tea, they took us on an evening walk through a trail that ended up at the top of a hill overlooking all of Picton.  It was stunning! Then we hiked down and walked along the beach.  We left the next morning and went to back to Blenheim and stayed at a really nice campground for a few days.  I called Tristan and he came and picked me up to go hang out with his friends again.  The whole Servas experience was phenomenal!  What do you think?  Would you try it?

Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup This soup is perfect with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough Region of New Zealand.

Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup Recipe:

8 – 10 servings

  • 2 Large Heads Broccoli – 10 Cups – florets roughly chopped – stems peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Dash of Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube – unsalted
  • 6 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 1/2 Pounds (about 3 medium) Yellow Potatoes – 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Rice Flour (or regular all-purpose)
  • 2 Cups 1 % Milk or Half and Half (I used 1 cup of each)
  • 8 oz. (2 1/4 cup) Cheddar Cheese – shredded (make sure it’s a high-quality cheese)
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil – packed – minced
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – drizzle
Charred Broccoli
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss together the broccoli, oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out on the baking sheet and place on middle rack.
Roast for 15 minutes, then stir broccoli around for even cooking. Roast for another 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure and check on them every 5 minutes, until broccoli is as crisp as you like it.

 Add the onions to a 5 1/2 quart pot with the olive oil and saute on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, add the garlic and continue cooking for 5 – 7 more minutes until the garlic starts to brown.

Add the white wine and bouillon cube, mash the bouillon, cook until wine is reduced and syrupy.  Add the water and potatoes to the onions then turn on high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Cheese Sauce

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour and stir for about a minute.   Slowly whisk in the milk little at a time to avoid the flour from clumping and mix in well.  Bring the milk to a boil and turn the heat down to medium-low and slowly add the cheese a little at a time.  When completely melted, add to the soup.

The Rest

Add the broccoli, basil, salt and pepper.  You can leave it chunky, puree half or puree it all.  I roughly pureed half.

Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup Health benefits:

Broccoli has cholesterol-lowering ability and strong impact on our body’s detoxification system.  It is also rich in both forms of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble.  It is very high in vitamin C & K.