Category Archives: Vegetables

National Soup Month

January is National Soup Month! It’s gotten colder here, so soup is the perfect go to meal for us. I love soup so much I wrote a book about it.

The recipe is at the end of the story.

It is featured on Library Sparks’ activity calendar for January which you can download for free here. (Did you know it’s also Happy Get Organized Month and Happy Brainteaser Month? I bet you didn’t!)

Soup Day was inspired by my son, Jamie. I created Snowy Day Soup (the recipe of which is at the end of the story) to get him to eat his veggies when he was a toddler. We’d choose the vegetables together at the market, and I’d let him cut the soft ones like the mushrooms, with a plastic knife (with my help).

Here is an old video of us making it together!

Back in 2010!

Back in 2010!

And here is a video of it being read on Story Time Castle. 🙂

Another favorite soup of his is Zucchini Soup, and we have it regularly. It is so easy to make, even he can do it by himself! I illustrated a version of it which I submitted to They Draw and Cook. Here’s the art and the recipe:

Zucchini Soup Melissa Iwai 2016 72

Zucchini Soup

1 lb. zucchini sliced

1 cup chicken broth or other broth

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Slice zucchini into rounds. Steam. You can either steam on the stove or in the microwave, covered with saran for 8 minutes.
  2. Careful transfer the cooked zucchini and juices into a blender. Add chicken broth and seasonings. Pulse several times on low, and then blend at high until completely smooth.
  3. Heat and serve.

Happy Slurping! 🙂

12 Comments

Filed under Books, Children, Soup, Soup, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Lean Waldorf Salad with Canned Chicken (or Leftover Turkey!)

chicken salad 2

I love me a good Waldorf salad, but find all the mayonnaise in the dressing to be too heavy and rich for me. I came up with this healthy twist on the Waldorf that is lighter, but full of flavor and crunch. It has a lot of fiber and is nutrient dense to boot. And for times when life is crazy, but you want to make a heathy lunch without the labor, I give you permission to use canned chicken and bagged shredded cabbage like I did last week!

They have both at Trader Joe’s. 🙂 But you could probably find it at any large supermarket.  And at the end of the week, you’ll have all that leftover turkey that you will want to put to good use, so you could use that instead.

I always have my whipped cottage cheese at the ready, but if you don’t, you could use Greek yogurt instead. I didn’t have grapes on hand that are usually in a Waldorf, so I threw in some dried cranberries for some color and and extra layer of sweetness.

Melissa Iwai 2015

Melissa Iwai 2015

Wishing all you Americans a Happy Thanksgiving this week!

Lean Waldorf Salad

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/2 cup whipped cottage cheese or Greek yogurt

1 12.5 oz. can chicken breast, or 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey

salt and pepper to taste

4 cups chopped cabbage

1 Fuji or Honey Crisp apple, chopped

1/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

salad greens

handful of dried cranberries to taste

  1.  Mix mayonnaise and whipped cottage cheese or Greek yogurt together in a medium sized bowl.  Add chicken and salt and pepper and incorporate. Mix in cabbage, chopped apple, walnuts and dried cranberries.
  2. Serve over a bed of salad greens.
  3. Enjoy!

Makes about 4 servings.

chicken salad 3

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under chicken, Vegetables

Sweet Potato Parmesan Chips

sweet potato chips1

I have been addicted to these microwave sweet potato chips recently! Why? Because they taste great (obviously), AND they are sooo easy to make!  I’ve been keeping a peeled sweet potato in the refrigerator. When I want to have some fresh chips at lunch time, I just slice thin rounds with my mandolin, place on a parchment lined plate, season with parmesan and onion powder, and zap in the oven for three to four minutes.  How easy is that?

I was inspired by this recipe for sour cream chips.  I couldn’t find powdered buttermilk, so I just omitted it.  I also omitted the salt, which I found unnecessary.  I was dubious at first – -I have always made chips in the oven.  But invariably they would burn on the edges.  I thought microwaving these would produce soggy chips — and they did, the first time.  The trick is to slice them REALLY thin, and you need a mandolin to do this.

0926151301_resized

Now, I keep a peeled portion of sweet potato in the fridge, and whenever I want fresh chips, I just make them.  It’s so much easier than having to preheat an oven and attempting to bake them that way.  For some reason, the microwave ones may brown — watch closely at the end of cooking– but not much.  And it still tastes good — I actually prefer a bit of browning.  It is a very different flavor than the brown/black edges I would end up with baking traditionally.  Hope you try these! 🙂

sweet potato chips2

Microwave Sweet Potato Parmesan Chips

1 sweet potato (I peel mine, but you don’t have to!)

1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch or two of onion powder

Non-stick olive oil spray

  1. Line a plate with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Slice some thin rounds of sweet potato with a mandolin.
  3. Arrange in one layer on parchment. Spray with non-stick spray.
  4. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and onion powder.
  5. Microwave on high for about four minutes checking to see if they are getting too brown at about three minutes.
  6. Remove and eat! If you want to make a bigger batch and save in an air tight container for later, just repeat the process until you finish slicing the sweet potato.

sweet potato chips 3

15 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Snack, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Ancho Chili Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak Salad for Cinco de Mayo

steak salad 2

After a very long winter here on the east coast, things are finally warming up!  We celebrated by buying flowers at a neighborhood plant sale and planting them in our garden.

flower

Then Denis whipped up the grill.  With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, I thought I would share a Mexican inspired steak salad recipe. It’s loosely based around my Asian one, which was a finalist in the 2006 Cooking Light Magazine Reader Recipe Contest and appears in the 2008  Cooking Light Annual Recipe Cookbook.

I first prepared the flank steak by rubbing it with an Ancho Chili Spice mix that I made and let the steak sit at room temperature for about an hour.  I scored the surface of the flank steak diagonally, making a diamond pattern.  This is to prevent the met from curling when it’s exposed to high heat.  Then I inserted garlic slivers in the cuts.

raw steak

While the meat was resting, I made a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette and put together the salad.

Denis grilled the Ancho Rubbed steak on each side for about 4 minutes on a very hot grill, then 5 minutes over indirect heat.  This is for medium well.  If you want it to be more rare, cook in less time, and keep checking the resistance of the meat to touch.

charred top2

After tenting the steak for about five minutes to let the juices redistribute, I sliced it on the bias and served with the salad and drizzled the vinaigrette on top.

cut meatGarnished with a bit of Cojito cheese and more cilantro, this healthy salad was the perfect meal to celebrate more warm, sunny days to come!

For more healthy recipes and inspiration similar to this salad, check out Aloha’s healthy recipes. I’ve been drooling over the recipes there!

steak salad 1

 

 

Ancho Chili Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak Salad

For steak:

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (if you can’t find this, regular chili powder would work)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 lb. flank steak, trimmed of fat

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1.  Mix salt, brown sugar, chili powder, ground cumin, and smoked paprika together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Score diagonal lines across both sides of flank steak.  Rub with spice mixture on each side.  Insert garlic slivers in cuts.   Let rest for 30-60 minutes.

3.  While meat is resting, prepare grill with the coals on one side.  Brush one side of meat with olive oil.  Sear  about 4 minutes over direct heat.  Flip and brush with more oil. Sear for another 4 minutes then move to the indirect heat side and let cook for about three to five minutes, depending on how cooked you like your meat.

4.  Tent meat and let rest for five to ten minutes.  Slice on the bias and serve.

charred top

For the dressing:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about 1 clove)

1 teaspoon lime zest (from one lime)

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup heaping tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1/4 cup tablespoons olive oil

1.  Mix garlic, zest, lime juice, vinegar, salt, sugar, and cilantro together.  Slowly add olive oil to mixture while stirring.  Set aside

For Salad:

8 cups mesclun greens

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 ripe avocado, cubed

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup steamed frozen corn kernals

cilantro for garnish

1/2 cup crumbled cojito cheese

Ancho Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak, sliced thinly on the bias

1.  Toss greens, onion, avocado, tomatoes, black beans and corn together.  Top with sliced grilled steak.  Garnish with more cilantro and crumbled cojito cheese.

Makes 4 servings, with extra dressing.

steak salad 3

4 Comments

Filed under Beef, Dinner, Vegetables

Easy Broccoli Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce for the Busy Person

Not the prettiest but oh so delicious!

Not the prettiest but oh so delicious!

Happy to start the new year with lots of projects, but that means I need to cook fast!

This has been my go-to super fast lunch for awhile now, and I thought I’d share the recipe here.  It is really easy to make if you have all the ingredients on hand. I usually make just one serving at a time, but you could double or quadruple the recipe pretty easily.

Have you seen the raw broccoli slaw they sell these days in the refrigerated section?  I still prefer my broccoli cooked, but I love the convenience of having it already washed and sliced thinly for stir fries.  I par cook the broccoli in the microwave for about 2 minutes with a spritz of water.  Then I fry it in just a smidgen of sesame oil for flavor in a non-stick pan and add a slice of firm tofu, and an egg white.  As the white cooks, I break it up along with the tofu and season with a bit of soy sauce.  Then I stir it all together with a peanut sauce I make.  You can use this peanut sauce recipe I use for my Asian Chicken Salad with Peanut Noodles, and use as needed.  Or you could just make a bit of sauce fresh (which I’ve been doing) of some peanut butter, peanut flour, coconut milk, and a bit more soy sauce.  In the above picture, I added some leftover shirataki noodles to the mix.  I’m doing a bit of low carbing these days, trying to lose some holiday weight….

Here is the recipe for a single serving:

Easy Broccoli Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

1 1/2 cups of broccoli slaw (I use Trader Joe’s)

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 slice of firm tofu

1 egg white (I use liquid whites)

2 teaspoons soy sauce, divided

For sauce:

1 teaspoon peanut butter

2 teaspoons peanut flour (alternatively, just use 1 tablespoon of peanut butter for the sauce)

1 tablespoon coconut milk or water

1.  Steam the broccoli slaw in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

2.  Heat sesame oil in a non-stick pan.  Add broccoli, tofu, egg white, and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce.  Let whites harden a bit, then stir together and break up tofu into pieces.

3.  Remove from heat and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, peanut flour (or just 1 tablespoon peanut butter) with coconut milk or water and the rest of the soy sauce (1 teaspoon).

4.   Pour over cooked vegetable mixture and stir to incorporate.  Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving

And here’s a small “sketch” I did of a dad I saw at Starbucks last weekend — just because….  🙂

DAD and babya

12 Comments

Filed under Eggs, Lunch, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Jamie’s Soup and My Society 6 Store

jamie'ssoup

I did a similar soup post way back when when I created this creamy green soup.  This one, however, is even easier, and I recently taught my ten year old to make it by himself!  It is his favorite soup these days, so I make it a lot. And now he can do the honors.  This is a good thing because I am so busy these days with MATS A and other work!

All you do is cut 2 large zucchini into slices.

cutting

Then you steam them in the microwave for about 6-8 minutes.

Place steamed zucchini into a Vitamix along with 2 cups of broth and season with some salt and pepper if you like.  Blend and serve!  If you want it warmer, just heat it a little for about 30 seconds.

Drinking the green yumminess!

Drinking the green yumminess!

This is what I did in my class last week– I designed a collection of ceramic plates:

MELISSA_IWAI_BEARANDBUNNY_4A_WK2REV

To read about the process, you can go here.  It was quite painful!  But all good. 🙂

Also, I just reopened my Society 6 store. I’ve been hesitant dipping my toes in the waters — I don’t know why….  But I made my first sale!  To myself!  ha ha.  I bought a pillow that has my bunny head design on it.  It is nothing really, but exciting to me, because it’s such a novelty for me!  There is a SALE in my store right now for $5 off everything plus FREE shipping until 11/9, so check it out!  🙂

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.53.01 PMJamie’s Zucchini Soup

2 zucchini

2 cups of chicken broth or other broth

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Cut zucchini into slices.  Place in large bowl and cover with saran.  Microwave for about 5-7 minutes until soft (it depends on your oven).  Alternatively, you can steam in a steamer on the stove for 8-10 minutes.

2.  Blend cooked zucchini and broth and seasonings in a Vitamix or blender until smooth.

Makes about 4 large bowls of soup.

 

16 Comments

Filed under Soup, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

MATS A Course and Root Vegetables

Melissa Iwai 2014

Melissa Iwai 2014

So… I started taking an intense online design course, called Make Art That Sells, taught by Lilla Rogers.  This, along with several book assignments and prep for a gallery show and an art auction makes for some busy (though good) times!  For any artist wanted to broaden their range, I highly recommend this class.  Every week focuses on a different market.  Last week, it was Bolt Fabric.  Our assignment was to create a fabric pattern that had the theme “vintage kitchen” that is inspired by root vegetables and vintage casserole dishes.  So this is the pattern I designed.  It was really difficult for me, but I won’t bore you with the gory details. If you want to read about my process, you can do so on my website blog.

For the warm up — or mini assignment, we were to explore vintage casserole dishes and root vegetables.  So the first thing I did was buy a bunch of veggies and the local green market.

root vegetables

After several days of drawing and drawing and more  drawing and painting the vegetables in different media, they met their final destination:  The oven.

root vegetables to roast

This is three yams, one large parsnip, a bunch of carrots, one large turnip, and one beet (the beet is wrapped in foil).  Unfortunately, my celery root had gone bad, and I couldn’t use it!  Basically it’s about 5  cups of chopped vegetables.  I coated them with olive oil,  seasoned them with kosher salt and dried thyme, and roasted them at 400 for about 30 minutes, tossing them halfway.

cooked root veg

 

The vegetables really shrink!  But it was enough for a side dish at a pot luck dinner we went to that evening.

And here is my final submission to the class with more coordinating patterns (not so happy with these — it was a struggle!!  But I’d like to do more and improve my craft…)  If you don’t know already, there is a great site where you can upload your designs to be printed on fabric — Spoonflower.com. I’d love to use my pattern to make an apron or some tea towels. 🙂

MELISSA_IWAI_ROOSTERPITCHER_4A_WK1

 

Roasted Root Vegetables

Non-stick spray

An assortment of root vegetables, such as potatoes, yams, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery root

about 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil

kosher salt to taste

1 – 2 teaspoons dried thyme

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

2.  Chop vegetables into 1/2 inch cubes.  Try to make them all about the same size so they cook evenly.

3.  Pour onto baking sheets and spread out into a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil (right onto baking sheets is OK) and mix with hands to make sure everything is nicely coated.  Season with salt and thyme.

4.  Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring and flipping halfway through.

Roasted Beet

1 or 2 beets

olive oil

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Wash and dry beets.  Brush with some olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil.

3.  Set on a baking sheet (sometimes the juices leak out, and it’s not pretty if it gets on your oven!) and bake for about 60 minutes until tender.  You can test it with a knife.  It should be soft like a cooked potato.

 

7 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Zucchini Pseudo Crepe

zucchini crepe up close

There were so many times I wanted to write a post in the last few weeks — about my experience at Surtex, my mom’s visit and our subsequent travels to Maryland to honor the life of her long time partner, Tom… Book Expo America, a fun class I taught to 34 families in Brooklyn recently, new art pieces, several newfood concoctions I’ve been experimenting with… Now it is weeks later, and I’m feeling very overwhelmed and bad that I never posted a thing! Still struggling with meeting several major deadlines which takes precedence over everything.
But it’s all been good –lots of wonderful things happening! If you’re interested in my Surtex experience, I wrote about it here.

Let me just leave you with this quick recipe of an easy Zucchini Pseudo Crepe. It is a wonderful way to get more veggies into your diet and easier to make than a regular crepe. I like to eat them with Mexican food in place of tortillas, with my breakfast eggs, and just as a nice vegetable side. They go well with a lot of things! This recipe makes 3, which I store in the refrigerator and use whenever needed. Sometimes I eat half at a time.

zucchini crepe with egg

Zucchini Pseudo Crepe

About 3 cups of shredded zucchini
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup multigrain pancake mix
2-3 tablespoons liquid egg whites or one egg white
kosher salt to taste

1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Line a large plate with parchment paper. Spread 1/3 of mixture on top in a thin circle.
3. Microwave on high for about 3-4 minutes.
4. Peel off paper and eat or store for future use.  Repeat with more paper and more batter twice.

Makes 3 large crepes

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Red Quinoa and Cauliflower “Rice”

High protein low carb and full of nutrients!

High protein low carb and full of nutrients!

Have you ever tried Red Quinoa?  They have it at Trader Joe’s, but I also buy it in bulk at our local store.  Health food stores probably would carry it as well.  It is nuttier and chewier than regular quinoa.  It takes longer to cook, but it is minimal active time on your part.  You just simmer it in a lot of liquid (I used broth to make it more flavorful) for about 45-50 minutes.  Then you mix it with steamed “riced” cauliflower (process raw in food processor and then steam in microwave for 4 minutes).

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

I like to eat this as a side with veggies and meat.  It is really good with curry.  And it also good mixed with some real rice!  Either way, you are getting a nice dose of protein and wonderful nutrients and fiber.

 

This weekend is jam packed with various events.  On Saturday (tomorrow, May 17, 2014), we will be in Hillsborough, NJ at the Hillsborough Library Children’s Book  Festival.  If you are in the area, come by!  The event is from 10-3 at the Hillsborough Library (379 South Branch Road, Hillsborough, NJ 08844).  There will be a number of authors and illustrators there signing books and giving presentations.  Hopefully it will be nicer weather tomorrow, but regardless, it is indoors, so you don’t have to worry about standing out in the rain!

I’ll be signing Truck Stop, Soup Day, and we will both be signing Hush Little Monster, of course!

turck stop_cover

The recipe is at the end of the story.

=

hush_book

On Sunday through Tuesday, I will be at Surtex, one of the major licensing conventions in North America.  I’ll be helping Victoria Johnson with her booth (#447!) and checking out all the amazing art at the rest of the show.  It’s a great way to learn about the industry which is somewhat unfamiliar to me.  Check out this amazing post at Print and Pattern where Victoria and other amazing artists are featured.

 

Red Quinoa and Cauliflower “Rice”

1/4 cup red quinoa

1 1/4 cup or so of liquid (water, vegetable broth, chicken broth or beef broth)

1/2 half head of cauliflower

1.  Simmer quinoa in liquid in a saucepan until quinoa is soft and chewy and most of liquid has been absorbed.  Keep an eye on it and stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure there is still liquid in the pan.

2.  Meanwhile, process 1/2 head of cauliflower in food processor until finely chopped.  Transfer to a large bowl, cover with saran, and cook in microwave for 4 minutes.  Let sit while quinoa cooks.

3.  Mix quinoa and cauliflower together.  Season to taste.

 

13 Comments

Filed under Gluten Free, Grains, Sides, Vegetables

Asian Grilled Salmon Salad

salmond salad 1

This salmon salad is really high in protein and healthy fats, and it packs a lot of flavor from the grilling.  I used one individually packaged Kirkland frozen salmon fillet, which I thawed overnight in the refrigerator.  I grilled it on a hot cast iron grill pan until just opaque and let it cook the rest of the way in a bowl from the residual heat.  Instead of loading it with mayonnaise, I used a teaspoon of wasabi mayonnaise and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil for flavor and added about 1/2 cup of whipped cottage cheese.  I often use it in place of sour cream or mayonnaise because it’s high in protein and low in fat and tastes wonderful whipped.  See this post for preparation.  I made a green salad and topped it with the salmon and dressed it with my favorite Miso Dressing.  I make this dressing all the time and we have it year round.  Many years ago, I included it as part of a Cooking Light recipe I submitted to a recipe contest, and I was a finalist!  Anyway, it’s really delicious, and it goes well with salmon, chicken, and beef.

salad

I’ve been a busy bee this month.  Along with other work projects, I FINALLY redesigned my website, which I really needed.  I was getting really sick of my theme (no tech support to speak of).  I switched to Squarespace.com, because friends recommended them, and I LOVE them.  I highly recommend them if you are low tech like me.  Every time wordpress (.org not .com) would update their software or a plug-in needed updating, it’d be such a big deal to back up my whole site.  I know for most people, this is probably nothing.  Squarespace does all of this automatically and you don’t have to worry about it.  They also have great templates to choose from.  But the best thing is that they have AMAZING tech support.  I’ve only done it via email, but if you ask a question, they get back to you in minutes.  They are always so nice and helpful. I’m really glad I made the switch!  Please visit my new site at:  www.melissaiwai.com   anad check out the new design.   I also have a blog there that is only art related, where I talk about the industry, what I’m working on, and my process. 🙂

site

Also, I made new business cards this month:

businesscards2

I wanted them to go with my website, so I used the same logo. I did all the lettering except for my email address! 🙂

I love the feel of these cards — the card stock and printing is great!!  I went with Moo.com.  I had never used them before, but I had seen friends’ cards which I liked, so I decided to try a new place.  They are FANTASTIC!  Check them out if you looking to print cards, postcards, etc.  So reasonable too.  AND, when I got my cards yesterday, I realized I had made a mistake and had my back image upside down!  Yes, this is why I am not a graphic designer… lol.  I called them, and they reprinted the entire batch and are sending me replacements for FREE even though it was my mistake.  So I feel like I have spread the good word — they are a really great company with a great product!

 

salmond salad 2

 

Asian Grilled Salmon Salad

1 6-8 oz piece of salmon fillet

kosher salt and pepper

non-stick spray

1 teaspoon wasabi or plain mayonnaise

1/2 cup whipped cottage cheese 

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

For green salad:
Couple of handfuls of spring mix

1/4 seedless cucumber, sliced

1 plum tomato, diced

1 small carrot, julliened

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/2 scallion, finely sliced

1 tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds

For dressing:

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoon canola or grapeseed oil

2 teaspoons miso paste

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1.  To make dressing, whisk all ingredients together until completely smooth.  Store in the refrigerator.

2.  To grill salmon, heat grill pan until almost smoking.  Spray with non-stick spray.  Pat salmon dry and season with salt and pepper.  Lay on grill pan and let sear for about 2 minutes.  Flip over and sear other side. for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Turn heat to low, cover and cook until desired doneness is reached.  Let salmon cool a bit in a large bowl.

3.  Break up salmon with a fork until completely shredded.  Add mayonnaise, whipped cottage cheese, and sesame oil.

4.  Make green salad and top with salmon salad.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds and sliced scallions.

Serves 2.

15 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Fish, Vegetables