Wednesday, December 28, 2011

FAMILY, FOOD AND STUFF

I am really lucky because I have such a grateful family who are each supportive of my culinary experiments and foibles. My children always try my food, and they have very broad tastes - which is a feat in itself for most parents. My husband, Carl, loves food. He appreciates it. He notices subtle flavors and textures and is generous with his compliments and commentary. He wholeheartedly embraced vegetarianism, and an invaluable source of information when it comes to overall nutrition. Without my family, I am sure that I would be eating bowls of cereal three meals a day! So, during this holiday season, I would like to extend my gratitude to my wonderful family. Thank you for making our meals interesting and yummy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

CILANTRO COUS COUS

Simple, fresh, delicious. It is a perfect accompaniment to the tagine in a prior post.
Ingredients:
2 ¼ cups vegetable stock
1 ½ cups whole wheat cous cous
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:
Combine stock, cous cous and salt in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and let simmer or about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add cilantro. Ready to serve! How easy was that?!

TAGINE WITH CHICKPEAS AND APRICOTS

Oh my goodness. This was awesome! It was hearty and interesting. Sublime. It was a great main dish, and looked very elegant atop the cilantro cous cous.

Ingredients:
3 bags Gardein beef tips
¾ cup dried chickpeas
5 tsp. garlic, minced
1 cinnamon stick
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 ½ tsp. coriander
¾ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, ground
1 ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. fresh ginger, chopped
14 oz. diced tomatoes, with juices
2 ½ cups No-Chicken stock
½ cup dried apricots, cut into slivers
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro
Cilantro cous cous (recipe to follow)

Directions:
Place chickpeas in a medium saucepan and cover with water and soak overnight. Drain and replace with fresh water and cover by the same amount. Add garlic and cinnamon stick. Bring to boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Drain. Meanwhile, heat oil in large frying pan over high heat. Cook beef tips until browned on all sides and remove. Add onion, salt and pepper to pan and reduce heat to medium. Sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, all the spices and ginger. Stir for 1 minutes. Add tomatoes and beef tips. Bring to a boil. Add stock. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chickpeas and apricots and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Serve over cilantro cous cous and top with fresh cilantro.


Monday, December 26, 2011

FRIED SPINACH WITH PINE NUTS

I love pine nuts, and my children love spinach, so we have a winner here. Pine nuts are super expensive right now, even in the bulk aisle. So, if that is too much of a splurge, try sliced almonds or chopped walnuts.

Ingredients:
5 Tbs. olive oil
½ cup pine nuts
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 lbs. fresh spinach leaves
1 Tbs. orange juice
½ tsp. orange zest
Pinch of nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
 
Directions:
Heat oven to 200 degrees. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in large frying pan. Add pine nuts and fry until lightly browned. Remove. Add ½ of the onion and garlic to the pan and fry until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add half of the spinach and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm in oven to keep warm. Repeat the process for the rest of the spinach, onion and garlic. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over spinach. Toss to incorporate. Mix in the pine nuts and serve. Mmmmmm….

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH HONEY AND TAHINI

I love tahini. It tastes almost like peanut butter, but different… The honey and tahni help bring out the natural nuttiness in cauliflower.  This dish is a cinch to make, and well worth it!

Ingredients:
2 lbs. cauliflower, broken into florets
2 Tbs. olive oil
¼ cup tahini
2 Tbs. honey
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper

Directions:
Heat oven to 500 degrees. Toss cauliflower with oil, salt and pepper, and place on baking sheet. Roast until starting to brown, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven. Mix remaining ingredients together in separate bowl. Drizzle sauce over cauliflower and serve.

CARROT SALAD WITH CINNAMON, LEMON & HONEY

This is a lovely traditional Moroccan dish – its vibrant color and simple flavor is a compliment to most meals. And, my children love carrots, so this is a winner for them.

Ingredients:
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup raisins
¼ cup carrot greens, chopped
12 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

Directions:
Toss carrots, carrot greens and raisins together. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over carrot mixture and serve (I let mine sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavors mix).

BEAN AND MINT ON CROSTINI

I used lima beans for their simple flavor and smooth texture. They took well to the lemon and mint, and made a nice pairing.

Ingredients:
2 cans lima beans, drained
¼ cup + 2 Tbs. fresh mint leaves
4 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
1 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Crostini (small squares of bread brushed with olive oil and broiled quickly until toasted)

Directions:
Mix lima beans, ¼ cup mint leaves, olive oil, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper in blender. Puree until smooth. Spread on crostini. Garnish with sun dried tomatoes and mint leaves that you have cut into small strips. Serve. Enjoy!

THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS DINNER

Family and friends have just feasted on traditional Christmas dinners. Now, they make their way to my home for something different. In looking through my various magazines and cookbooks, I came across a lamb tagine recipe in Food & Wine, as well as a roasted cauliflower recipe in Food & Wine. They spoke to me. They said, “tonight is the night for Moroccan food!” So, I listened. The recipes that I used are all slightly tweaked versions that appear either in Food & Wine, or in my cookbook, “The Moroccan Collection” by Hilaire Walden. Some of the recipes are taken right out of the magazine or cookbook, others are altered to make them vegan and/or better (in my opinion). Here’s our menu for tonight’s feast:

Bean and Mint Spread over Crostinis
Carrot Salad with Cinnamon, Lemon and Honey (The Moroccan Collection)
Fried Spinach with Nuts (The Moroccan Collection)
Roasted Cauliflower with Honey and Tahini (Food & Wine)
Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots (The Moroccan Collection)
Chocolate Curry Cake with Coconut Cream

It would seem that ethnic food would not be welcomed by young eaters. Mine seemed to like the food, but they always adhere to the rule of trying everything before making a decision. My son likes to say “I don’t prefer this” if he tries something and doesn’t like it. People usually laugh when they hear him say it; it goes over so much better than “This is yucky!” Not, that we had any “I don’t prefer this” comments tonight. Lucky us!

ZEN BON BONS

If regular bon bons don’t bring you to Zen, then try these. The secret to making these interesting is the Zen green tea by Tazo. It is brewed into the chocolate glaze, and the actual leaves are incorporated into the filling. Yummy!

Ingredients:
Filling:
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
1 ½ Tbs. maple syrup
1 tsp. coconut extract
2 tsp. coconut milk
1 Tbs. Earth Balance (butter substitute)
1 ½ cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut
2 bags Tazo Zen green tea (leaves removed from the bags)
 
Glaze:
½ cup sugar
4 Tbs. Earth Balance
2 Tbs. coconut milk
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
1 ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. peppermint extract
1 bag Tazo Zen green tea

Directions:
Line a cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper. In a mixer, blend all of the filling ingredients (except reserve ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar) until well incorporated. Roll into small balls and place on cookie sheet. Place in freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Put all ingredients (except vanilla and peppermint extracts) into a small saucepan (be sure to keep tea in the bag) over medium low heat. One it starts to simmer, stir constantly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove tea bag. Add vanilla and peppermint extracts and stir constantly for an additional 4 minutes. Using a fork, dip each ball, one at a time, into the glaze. Make sure to evenly coat each ball and place coated ball on parchment paper. Let cool. It will be ready to serve in an hour or so. You can also put these in the freezer and have them on hand for whenever the mood strikes. These make a lovely gift too!

MEATBALLS

This makes a lovely main course, and the red wine gives it a bit of sophistication. Be sure to cook for a while – you want to break down the tomatoes until the moisture is mostly absorbed. They get a beautifully sweet taste when you do that. Beware, this is a lot of food, appropriate for when you have a few guests.

Ingredients:
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 ½ Tbs. garlic, chopped
½ cup green olives, chopped
3 packages of frozen Quorn meatballs
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, including liquid
30 oz. tomato sauce
1 Tbs. dried marjoram
1 Tbs. dried thyme
1 Tbs. dried sage
1 Tbs. dried basil
1 Tbs. dried oregano
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 cup red wine
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
 
Directions:
Heat olive oil in large sauce pan over high heat. Add onions. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, olives and meatballs. Cook until onions and meatballs are starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, sauce, marjoram, thyme, sage, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook until liquid has been mostly absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep it from burning, but don’t worry when you scrape up some brown here and there. When liquid has been reduced by half, turn heat up to high and add red wine. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Serve with fresh parsley on top.

MUSHROOM SAUSAGE RAGU OVER HERBED POLENTA

This is such a homey, hearty dish. It could even be served as a main dish. The presentation is lovely, and because you can mold the polenta into any shape, you have a lot of options. I kept the polenta simple, with just a bit of basil and onions, so that the focus remained on the ragout. It looked and tasted lovely.

Ingredients:
1 cup dried chanterelle mushrooms (though it is better with fresh)
1 cup dried oyster mushrooms (though it is better with fresh)
6 cups No-Chicken stock
2 cups polenta (corn grits)
2 Tbs. dried basil
2 Tbs. dried minced onion
1 tsp. salt
8 oz. fresh portabella mushrooms, sliced
8 oz. fresh button mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Field Roast Italian sausages
Pinch salt and pepper
2 shallots, chopped
1 small can water chestnuts, sliced
1 Tbs. tomato paste
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray. Reconstitute the dried mushrooms by covering them with boiling water and letting them soak for an hour or two (or all day like I did). Heat stock in large sauce pan over high heat until boiling. Add polenta, minced onion, salt and basil. Return to boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. (Be careful as this dish tends to bubble a lot at the beginning). When done, scoop polenta into bowl and press down firmly. Cover bowl with the serving plate. Meanwhile, heat oil in large frying pan over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, sausage and shallots, and sauté until golden brown. Add salt and water chestnuts and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Invert polenta onto serving plate. Top with mushroom ragout and sprinkle the top with fresh parsley. Lovely!

LEMON INFUSED ZUCCHINI THREADS

This looked fanciful and fun. I think if I were to make this recipe again, I would choose spinach angel hair pasta so that the focus is on the beautiful green threads of vegetables. Regardless, this recipe tasted fresh and even a bit on the lighter side than you would expect for a pasta dish. It is a nice side dish for a variety of meals.

Ingredients:
4 medium sized zucchini, cut into thin ribbons with a mandolin and then sliced into thin threads with a knife
4 Tbs. Earth Balance (butter substitute)
4 green onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
Pinch of salt and pepper
½ box linguine, spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1 Tbs. lemon thyme, chopped
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbs. lemon juice
6 oz. parmesan cheese substitute
 
Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Melt Earth Balance in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add zucchini and green onions. Cook until tender. Add salt, pepper, thyme and lemon zest. Add cooked pasta and sauté for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the cheese substitute and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve. Mmmmmmm….

SPINACH AND SAUSAGE STUFFED PEPPERS

For such a small item, these sure pack a delicious punch

Ingredients:
2 slices of bread, crumbled
¼ cup coconut milk
1 Tbs. flaxseed meal
2 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
2 Tbs. pine nuts
2 Tbs. red onion, chopped
1 lb. field roast Italian sausage, chopped into small bits
Pinch of salt and pepper
15 small red, yellow, orange peppers (these are about 2” long), hollowed out and seeds removed
¼ cup olive oil
14 oz. can tomato sauce
¼ cup No Chicken broth

Directions:
Mix flaxseed meal and water with water and let sit for 10 minutes. Mix bread crumbs, coconut milk, flaxseed mixture, nutritional yeast, pine nuts, onion, sausage, salt and pepper. Stuff mixture into the peppers. Heat oil in large flat-bottomed frying pan over medium high heat. Add peppers. Turn when skins start to burn, about 5 minutes on each side. Add tomato sauce and broth and let cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. Serve.

TOMATO TAPENADE

This had to be my favorite part of dinner! This spread had a deep, complex flavor that was perfectly complimented by the basil. If I had nothing else to eat, I would have been a happy person.

Ingredients:
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
4 regular tomatoes, quartered
2 tsp. garlic chopped
1 tsp. herbs de Provence
2 Tbs. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. honey
4 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped
Thinly sliced herbed foccacia bread, cut into small slices

Directions:
Place tomatoes, garlic, herbs and salt into a medium sauce pan over low heat. Cover and cook for 18 minutes. Remove cover, add oil, and turn heat up to high and let cook until the liquid has fully evaporated (about 10-15 minutes). Add honey, stirring constantly for about one more minute. Remove from heat. I Place a dollop of tomato spread onto each piece of bread and top with fresh basil. This was unbelievably good. Enjoy!

HERBED CIABATTA BREAD

I LOVE this recipe! The thought of doing anything outside of the bread maker initially scared me, but a recent visit from my brother-in-law’s fiancée forced me outside of my comfort zone – and I have been there ever since. When my brother-in-law and his fiancée recently visited, she told me that she preferred ciabatta bread over all others. In an attempt to find something that she would love, I searched the interwebs for something that I could just do in the bread machine and let it be. But, it would not be so. I am so glad that she mentioned this bread, and I am so glad that I did not shy away from the challenge. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups water
1 T. white truffle oil
3 ¼ cups bread flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 ½ tsp. bread machine yeast
2 Tbs. dried herbs de province
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. garlic salt
 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly flour cookie sheet. Place the water and white truffle oil in the bread machine. Top with the flour. In one corner, pour in the salt; in another corner, pour in the sugar. Dig a little well in the middle of the flour and pour in the yeast. Select the “dough” setting on the machine. When it has about 1 hour 15 minutes left (my machine just beeps when it’s time to make additions), add the dried herbs. Once the machine is done, leave the dough in the machine for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the machine and separate into two separate balls. The dough is very sticky – just let it fall from your fingers onto the floured cookie sheet. Sprinkle flour on top and form into two loaves. Poke your finger all over the top. Cover with a towel and let sit for another 45 minutes. Dimple again and place in the oven. After 3 minutes, brush the tops with water. After another 3 minutes, brush the tops again with water. After another 3 minutes, brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic salt. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until the top is nice and crusty. Remove from the oven and serve. Delicious!

CHRISTMAS DINNER

I was drooling over the food in the December issue of the Food & Wine magazine that my mother-in-law gave to me while I was trying to find inspiration for their upcoming Christmas visit. I was search each page for inspiration when I came across the menu ideas. I saw the one for a family-style Italian dinner and was sold. When I think of Italian food, I think of family (though mine is primarily Dutch) and rich, hearty, beautiful food served family-style. It felt very celebratory, and very appropriate for a Christmas dinner, never mind the fact that it was about as far away from vegan fare as one can imagine. I took most of the menu proposed by Food & Wine, together with their recipes, and adapted them for a vegan feast. I tampered with each of the recipes to varying degrees. Some are nowhere near where they started in the magazine, and others simply swap out meat and milk for meat and milk substitutes. I was very impressed with myself, if I do say so myself! My in-laws said that it was the best vegan dinner that they have ever tasted and even went back for seconds. I think it was a smashing success. So, in this next series of posts, you will see what it took to create this lovely menu.


Tomato Tapenade and Basil on top of Fresh Ciabatta Bread
Spinach and Sausage Stuffed Peppers
Lemon-Infused Zucchini Threads
Mushroom Sausage Ragu over Polenta
Meatballs
Blood Orange Sorbetto by Talenti (I bought this round)

Perhaps you will be inspired to do it yourself, or perhaps it will inspire you to think beyond traditional vegan entrees. In any event, thank you for continuing with me on this food journey.

Friday, December 23, 2011

SPLIT PEA STOUP

My mother likes to call her super thick soups “stoups”, so hence the name. As the name implies, this is a thick one. The smokiness from this dish comes from two things: the smoked paprika (which I LOVE) and tempeh bacon. It is a hearty dish, perfect for winter nights. Serve with fresh bread, and it is irresistibly comforting. My kids love spinach (yeah!), so this is a good dish for them.

Ingredients:
8 oz. split peas, dried
4 slices tempeh bacon, cut into small pieces

1 quart vegetable stock or no-chicken stock
10 oz. frozen spinach, chopped
4-5 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic, chopped
½ onion, chopped

Directions:
Place all ingredients into a crock-pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours (or for however long you are at work). Before serving, use a potato masher and mash the potatoes so that the soup has a very thick consistency. Serve with fresh bread.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MEMPHIS HASH

I just went grocery shopping yesterday. My refrigerator is nicely packed. When I opened it tonight, I saw lots of fresh veggies – greens, reds and oranges all staring back at me. “This is going to be easy tonight!” I confidently told myself. However (it seems there is always one of those words when I mention my great amount of confidence), all of the food was for our upcoming Christmas dinner, and the dinners to follow while my inlaws are visiting. I did not purchase anything for dinner preceding the BIG dinner. Silly me. So, here’s my improvisation at its best. It turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. However… (just kidding).

Ingredients:
2 cups of red potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ red onion, sliced into thin wedges
1 bag of Quorn chick n’ tenders
4 oz. can green chilies (I use mild)
¼ cup honey BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. freshly chopped cilantro
 
Directions:
Put potatoes into a microwave safe dish and cover with 2” of water. Microwave for 8 minutes. Drain. Heat oil in large frying pan over high heat. Add potatoes, onion, chick n’ tenders and chilies. Cook until mix starts to brown and crisp a bit (about 10 minuts), stirring occasionally. Add BBQ sauce and cook for an additonal 5 mintues, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Serve.

Friday, December 16, 2011

CHRISTMAS JAM

It’s a little naughty and whole lot of nice. When you read through the ingredients, it may give you pause, but this is one jam with which you will fall in love! It has sweetness with a bit of a bite, and looks absolutely lovely. Try it, I promise you will like it! If my kids like it, then you shall too.

Ingredients:
7.5 oz. fresh cranberries, washed
0.4 oz. mild chilies (canned)
½ cup sugar
½ cup honey
1 Tbs. lemon juice

Directions:
Put all of the ingredients into the blender and puree until smooth and well blended. Pour into the bread maker and select the “jam” setting. If you don’t have such a setting, I suppose you could put the ingredients in a small sauce pan and cook over medium high heat (stirring frequently). Let boil for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

CURRY SORT OF

Okay, this is barely a curry dish, and if we were in a fancy restaurant, it would fall more within the “fusion” section – a fusion between Indian, Mexican and American amateur cook. Well, I had some lovely yellow curry sauce in the pantry, and the dish was built around that. It is really a mish-mash of the stuff that I had on hand that seemed like it would go well together. So many interesting textures and flavors.

Ingredients:
11 oz. jar yellow curry
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 red baby potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1 cup)
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into small discs (about ½ cup)
1 bunch of carrot greens, chopped (about ½ cup)
½ sweet yellow onion, sliced into thin wedges
1 head broccoli, cut into small flowerets (about 2 cups)
1 soyrizo sausage
¼ cup raisins
1 cup green lentils, rinsed
2 cups refrigerated coconut milk

Directions:
In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk and lentils. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Turn to low and let simmer until the milk has been absorbed (about 15) minutes. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, carrot, onions, broccoli and sausage. Saute until veggies are soft and sausage has browned (don’t worry about getting the sausage too brown, it tastes better that way). Add curry sauce, raisins and carrot greens and let simmer about 2 minutes. Add lentils to mixture and serve.

NUMMY NUTS

I think that nuts are a good snack to have on hand. I like to keep fresh fruit within the kids’ reach on the counters, and a bowl of nuts on the coffee table. I figure that if they can access it, they will eat it, and it has been true. I was surprised when I started putting out the nuts. I didn’t expect them to touch them, but they love them, and they are quickly gobbled up. I alternate between sweet and savory. These are cinch to make, and you will want to have them on hand at all times.

Ingredients:
1 cup shelled walnut halves
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. curry
¼ tsp. dried parsley flakes
Non-stick cooking spray (make sure there is no silicone in it)

OR

1 cup shelled walnut halves
¼ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. sugar
Non-stick cooking spray (make sure there is no silicone in it)

Directions:
Put walnuts into a small frying pan over high heat. Spray the cooking spray over the walnuts and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir constantly to coat the nuts while ensuring that they don’t burn. Cook them until toasted (about 3-5 minutes). Pour into your serving dish and enjoy when cooled.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SUPER STARS

This is not a fancy dish, but it is good and the kids just love the little star shaped pasta. This is a super-easy dish that you can put in the crock-pot and come home to later. It also has the same creamy texture of a more sophisticated Bolognese sauce, but without the work (or the dairy).

Ingredients:
14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
14 oz. can tomato sauce
14 oz. can light coconut milk
14 oz. water
10 oz. package frozen spinach, chopped
2 cups sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1 bag Quorn meatballs
½ yellow onion, chopped
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 tsp. garlic, chopped
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
½ cup small star pasta

Directions:
Add all ingredients to your crock-pot. Stir to mix. Set on low and cook 6-8 hours. Serve. Could you ask for anything easier than that?!

POLKA-DOTTED BREAD

What kid doesn’t like polka dots? Chia seeds give this bread its playful dots and interesting texture. The little seeds pop in your mouth like poppy seeds. However, unlike poppy seeds, chia is the richest non-marine whole food source of Omega-3 and dietary fiber currently known to man. Who would have thought those little specks could be fun and healthy? Bob’s Red Mill packages chia seeds, and I found them in my local grocery store in the “healthy” section. I didn’t have to go to a specialty store to get them. Additionally, this bread has flax meal, which acts as a binding agent and also lends some additional Omega-3 to the mix. This bread should rise really high and be light and airy when done. It is a favorite in our household, and I make a few loaves a week.

Ingredients:
1 cup almond or coconut milk
2 Tbs. flax meal
4 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. Earth Balance (butter substitute)
3 cups bread flour
¼ cup raw sugar
¾ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup chia seeds
2 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
¼ cup uncooked oats
 
Directions:
In a small bowl, mix flax meal with water and let stand for 10 minutes; when done, pour the congealed mixture into the bread machine. Add the milk and Earth Balance. Sprinkle the flour on top of the wet ingredients. In one corner, pour in sugar. In another corner, pour in salt. In a third corner, pour in chia seeds. Dig a little well in the middle of the flour and pour the yeast into the well. Cook according to the bread machine directions. Once the dough is finished mixing and the bread starts to rise, sprinkle the oats on the top. Enjoy hot or cold.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

PEANUT BUTTER PIE

Need I say more?! The taste doesn’t even hint at the fact that it is vegan. The filling is silky smooth. It is relatively easy to make, too. I am not sure how you could mess this one up.

Ingredients:
1 pkg. extra firm Mori-Nu silken tofu
1 cup creamy peanut butter
¾ cup raw sugar
2 Tbs. coconut milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. toasted salted peanuts, chopped to smallish size
10 graham crackers (1 rectangle = a cracker), pulsed to crumbs
6 Tbs. Earth Balance (butter substitute)
¼ cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
3 Tbs. Earth Balance
 
Directions:
Melt 6 Tbs. Earth Balance and add to graham crackers, brown sugar, salt and nutmeg. Put into pie pan and press down on sides and bottom hard. Bake in 325 degree oven for 15 minutes. Cool. In a blender, add tofu, peanut butter, sugar, coconut milk, and vanilla. Pour mixture into cooked pie crust. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Melt chocolate and 3 Tbs. Earth Balance in a small sauce pan over low heat. Once completely melted, drizzle over top of pie. Sprinkle nuts over top. That’s it!

JAMMIN' BROCCOLI

This recipe is for the vain (and thrifty – the two don’t have to mutually exclusive) among us. You know who you are! Do you put your makeup on before you go to bed? Do you wear heels to the Post Office? Does glitter live in your house? Do you hate ugly food? Do you only serve pretty things? Do you wonder what you can do with the ugly stem on the broccoli that you usually throw away? And, while we are talking about ugly things, what about those wilty strawberries that haven’t gone bad but don’t fit well in your vain world where only pretty things belong? Well, you make jam, of course! Here is a unique way to reinvent ugly food in different, pretty and tasty (of course) ways.

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cup strawberries, cleaned and tops removed
½ cup pineapple, chopped into large chunks
¼ cup broccoli stems, cleaned, steamed (until soft) and chopped
¾ cup raw sugar
¼ tsp. ginger, ground/dried
1 Tbs. lemon juice
Directions:
Place all ingredients into a food chopper or blender and blend until smooth. Put it all into your bread maker and set on the “jam” setting. Transfer to storage container and refrigerate for a day to let the flavors settle. Voila! The ugly has been made beautiful and yummy.

Monday, December 12, 2011

OUR BEAUTIFUL SUMMER GIRLFRIEND FROM NIAGRA FALLS – BEETS

So, you know where I’m going here, right? (Are beets really that great? Does the tasty beet really exist? Well, to you naysayers, here she is. You are going to want to take her to prom after this.) Bet you wondered whether you could use the leafy greens atop the beets. Well, if you are like me, you certainly wondered. The answer is HECK YES! They have a surprisingly mild flavor and a good texture. They are also loaded with healthy stuff. This is a simple dish to make, but is absolutely lovely to serve. It looks like it belongs on your Christmas dinner table. Kids and adults will like it. And, don’t tell me that you don’t like beets – you probably dated the canned beets once and said “never again!” Those canned beets are just going to get fat and wear mom jeans some day. They got nothing on the real thing.

Ingredients:
1 bunch of beets (greens included), cleaned, peeled and chopped into smallish cubes
½ head red cabbage, chopped
½ sweet yellow onion
½ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbs. Earth Balance (butter substitute)
2 Tbs. olive oil

Directions:
Chop the greens from the beets. Discard the long red stems. Melt the Earth Balance in a large frying pan. Add beets, greens and onions. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the mixture. Sauté over medium high heat until everything is wilted, but not browned (about 8-10 minutes). Add salt and mix through. Serve. Yum. How simple was that?!

TEX-MEX QUINOA

Got a jar of salsa, some tofu and quinoa? Well, then you have a dish! This is a pretty simple dish, and you can adjust it to your personal spice level (which is difficult in my house because my two-year-old daughter loves spice, and my 5-year-old son is suspicious of anything spicier than BBQ sauce). This isn’t the prettiest dish, but it is tasty and filling.

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1/8 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. chipotle powder
¼ tsp. cumin
1 package extra firm Mori-Nu silken tofu, cut into small cubes
1 jar salsa
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tomato, chopped

Directions:

In sauce pan, add quinoa, vegetable broth chili powder, chipotle powder and cumin. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer until all liquid has been absorbed (about 15 minutes). In separate frying pan, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add tofu and 2 Tbs. of salsa. Cook until browned on all sides. Don’t stir too much as you don’t want the tofu to crumble. When the quinoa is cooked and the tofu is done, mix together with the remaining salsa. Heat through. Top with fresh cilantro and chopped tomatoes and serve.

Friday, October 28, 2011

PUMPKIN SOUP

It’s Fall. I am too busy making Halloween costumes to think about preparing an elaborate meal. Besides, it is nice to come home to a nice bowl of soup and some fresh sourdough bread (I have a bread machine, and I use the recipe that came with the machine – it is perfect). When I started making this soup, I thought, “Hmmm… seems kind of boring. Oh, and when am I going to use that eggplant that I bought the other day?” So, that’s how it started. Once I added the eggplant, I thought it needed something to sweeten it up just a little bit, so I added an apple. Then, it needed to be tied all together – so in came the curry and coconut milk. Not a likely combination, but not an unlikely one either. It worked, so I thought I would post it. Not to mention the fact that my kids ate it right up! My son even took the time to say, “I like it, Mommy!” Yeah! Well, my work here is done. If you have about 5 minutes to chop and throw everything into a Crockpot, well then, your work will soon be done too. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
2 cans pumpkin puree
1 quart No-Chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 small eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can light coconut milk
1 Tbs. garlic, chopped
1 red apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 tsp. herbs de province
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. curry powder
 
Directions:
Are you ready? This is going to take a while. Okay, here goes. Put everything into a Crockpot and let cook on low for about 6 hours. Put everything into a blender (you may have to do a few batches) and puree until smooth. Yep. That’s it. It is a cinch to make, but tastes very gourmet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

QUINOA AND NEIGHBORS

Although quinoa, tempeh and cappage are not technically neighbors, they all coexist peacefully in my humble abode. Today, they got a little better acquainted in this dish and, surprisingly, played together very well. If you have been keeping up with my recent blog entries, you will know that my mother was kind enough to bestow on my family her home-grown cabbage, so I have been on a mission to use it all up in new ways. Hence, quinoa and cabbage’s new relationship… I am proud of my new matchmaking role. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
2 Tbs. Earth Balance
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
½ cup onion, chopped
5 slices of Tempeh “bacon”, broken into small pieces
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground sage
2 cups mushroom or vegetable broth
1 cup red quinoa

Directions:
Heat butter in frying pan over medium heat until melted. Add cabbage, tempeh, onions, salt and sage. Cook until cabbage and onions are soft (about 10 minutes). Set aside. Meanwhile, heat broth and quinoa in sauce pan over high heat until it starts to boil, then turn down to low heat and cover. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed (about 15 minutes). Add cabbage mixture to quinoa, stir and serve.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

KID-FRIENDLY CHILI

I always thought that chili wasn’t a “kid” food. But, once I took out the spice and replaced it with smoke, I stumbled upon something that both kids and adults truly enjoy. Chili is a great healthy meal, and it is one of those foods that you can throw all kinds of things into – here, I have added the unlikely sweet potato (it is very complementary), edamame and corn. You can throw in whatever else you might have in the freezer; just make sure that it is a hearty vegetable (no peas – they will just turn to mush after a few hours in the crockpot). Most of the ingredients are staples that you would find in your pantry. This is a nice thing to throw together at the beginning of a busy day, and it is all ready when you get home.

Ingredients:
2 cans beans (I like to use a variety – pinto, kidney, black and/or black-eyed peas)
1 ½ cup frozen edamame
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 small can green chilies (mild)
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 sweet potato, cut into small cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
½ pkg. Quorn meat crumbles
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. cumin

Directions:
Add everything to a crockpot (do not drain the beans or tomatoes). Stir and cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 4-6 hours. How easy was that?!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

CABBAGE FRITTERS WITH AIOLI

My mother came over the other day and donated some cabbage and carrots from her garden to our kitchen. So, I have been on a mission to use them all up in new and interesting ways. If you are in the same boat, and have grown weary of coleslaw, this dish is for you! The key to these little patties of awesomeness is to make sure that you use as little flour as necessary (just enough make sure that the ingredients all bind together) and make the patties as thin as possible (while still keeping them together). You want them to be crispy little treats. The aioli is an absolute must with this dish, as it has some great flavor, and ties everything together perfectly (if I do say so myself).

Ingredients:

Fritters
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
2 cups white cabbage, shredded
½ cup carrots, shredded
½ cup red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
½ cup flour (more or less as necessary to bind everything together)
4 Tbs. sesame or olive oil
 
Aioli
¾ cup Vegenaise (I swear by the one with grapeseed oil)
¼ tsp. ground sage
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried parsley
 
Directions:
For the fritters, mix everything together, except the oil. Be sure to sprinkle the flour in a bit at a time, using only as much as you need to get everything to easily bind together. Form thin patties. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add patties (you will have to do these in two batches – when you do the second batch, you will use another 2 Tbs. oil) and cook on each side for 5 minutes. They should be crispy, but not burnt. For the aioli, mix all ingredients. Dollup some atop each fritter (it is so flavorful, you will probably want a double batch). In my son’s words, “Nummy!”

SLOPPY JILLS (who says that the Joes are the only ones that can be messy yumminess?)

What child doesn’t love the mess, chaos, and relative simplicity of these little numbers?! What parent doesn’t love the fact that these are uber healthy, packed full of veggies and a healthy source of protein?! (Do I hear lentils, anyone?) So many questions today. Now, let’s get back to the business of cooking fun, healthy, child-friendly meals.

Ingredients:
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large leek, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 medium-large zucchini, finely chopped
28 oz. canned tomatoes, chopped
15 oz. can lentils, drained
½ bag Quorn crumbles
½ cup red wine
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. white pepper
2 tsp. agave
1 Tbs. dried basil
¼ tsp. dried ground chipotle peppers (omit if spiciness is an issue)
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano
6 oz. tomato paste

Directions:
Heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and all veggies (except tomatoes). Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until veggies are softened and starting to brown. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 8 minutes, or until all of the liquid is gone. Add lentils, Quorn crumbles and herbs/spices, and sautee until heated through (about 5 minutes). Increase heat to high and add remaining ingredients, and cook until liquid is absorbed (about 5 minutes). Serve atop hamburger buns.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

KICKIN' KOLRABI CHIPS

I saw these odd-looking root veggies in the produce aisle and thought, “What the heck… This should be fun.” Then, they sat in the fridge for a few days because I had no idea what to do with it. When I finally decided to plunge in, I cut the tops off, then took a vegetable peeler and peeled until the texture looked different. Pretty technical explanation, isn’t it? Then I smelled it. I fancy myself to have super hero smelling abilities. It smelled bit radish-y, so I was a little nervous. But, when paired with the mesquite seasoning, it all made sense.

Ingredients:
2 Tbs. Earth Balance
1 Tbs. olive oil
3 small kolrabi, peeled and sliced paper thin with a mandolin
2 pinches of sea salt
1 Tbs. onion, minced
1 tsp. smoky mesquite seasoning

Directions:

Heat Earth Balance and olive oil in skillet over medium high heat until melted. Add kolrabi and onion; sprinkle with salt and cook until translucent and starting to brown, stilling frequently (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and sprinkle chips with mesquite seasoning, tossing to evenly coat. Note, these will not be crispy like potato chips (just so that we properly set expectations). My kids like them served with a side of ketchup.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

PB&J QUINOA

Need a new idea for hot cereal in the morning that your kids will embrace? Well, here it is, and it’s vegan and gluten free to boot! Although there are no peanuts, the hazelnut milk and pecans give it a nutty flavor (without being overwhelming), and the preserves on top bring it all together. Need I tell you the awesomeness of quinoa again? Well, in case you haven’t read all of my posts, quinoa is a complete protein. Although it looks like a grain, it is really a seed. It is considered a superfood – it is full of phytonutrients, antioxidants and can even help balance your blood sugar. What more could you ask of your humble PB&J?! Enjoy.

Ingredients:
2 cups hazelnut milk
1 cup quinoa
2 Tbs. raw sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash salt
4 dates, chopped (about ¼ cup)
½ cup pecans, chopped and toasted (f you have raw pecans, just place them on a cookie sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes at 350 F. Don’t skip this step)
1 Tbs. Earth Balance
2 Tbs. preserves

Directions:
Place milk and quinoa in a medium sized sauce pan and bring to boil over medium high heat. Turn down to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar, vanilla, salt and dates. Cook until most of the moisture has been absorbed (about another 5-8 minutes – longer if your quinoa is older).  Remove from heat. Stir in Earth Balance. Serve in individual bowls and sprinkle pecans and a dollup preserves over the tops.


Monday, June 13, 2011

TOFU SCRAMBLE

I am trying to incorporate more vegan dishes into our overall repertoire. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous to see how this was received from my egg-loving children. With the bacon bits and smoked paprika, the scramble satisfies that Jonesin’ for bacon, and the nutritional yeast gives it a bit of a cheesy element. The kids ate it without prompting, so we will be making this one again.

Ingredients:
1 block extra firm tofu
2 Tbs. Earth Balance “butter”
¼ cup green onions, chopped
2 Tbs. imitation bacon bits
2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. smoked paprika
¼ tsp. salt

Directions:
Place tofu block between wads of paper towels and squeeze excess water out of it. Cut tofu into small cubes. Using a fork, crumble the cubes. Melt the Earth Balance in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add tofu crumbles, green onions and imitation bacon bits. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. In separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over tofu and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Note that your cooking times may be less, depending upon your ability to squeeze out the excess water from the tofu. I am impatient and don’t want to place my tofu between paper towels and books for hours, so that is why mine cooks so long. Just keep an eye on it and make sure that you aren’t overcooking it.